Thomp­son re­build­ing Blay­don af­ter mass ex­o­dus

The Rugby Paper - - National League 1 - ■ By JON NEW­COMBE

MATT THOMP­SON says his first pri­or­ity as new Blay­don head coach is to stop the club slid­ing fur­ther down the leagues.

Blay­don’s 12-year stay at level three came to an end last year when they were rel­e­gated into Na­tional 2 North and an­other sur­vival bat­tle beck­ons un­less the for­mer New­cas­tle hooker can turn things around.

“My first tar­get is to stay in the league,” said Thomp­son, be­low, the Fal­cons’ record holder for Pre­mier­ship ap­pear­ances at hooker. “We are just be­low midtable, but it is quite tight down at the bot­tom.

“The sec­ond one is to keep build­ing on the young tal­ent that we’ve got and add a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence. Take my­self and Keith Laughlin out of it and the av­er­age age of our squad is only about 20 or 21.

“Thir­teen play­ers ei­ther left or re­tired af­ter we were rel­e­gated, de­priv­ing us of over 1,000 ap­pear­ances’ worth of ex­pe­ri­ence, so we’ve al­most had to re­build a whole first team, and we’re still in the process of do­ing that, but it’s not easy with the Fal­cons, Dar­ling­ton Mow­den Park and Tynedale on the doorstep.

“We’ve got to try and make the club at­trac­tive to play­ers by the style of rugby that we play and the coach­ing they get on a Tues­day and Thurs­day night.

“Last year we had a huge lumpy pack that tried to bully teams up front. But with the per­son­nel that’s left, we can’t do that any­more. We’re a lot lighter than most teams so we need to run them off the park.”

Thomp­son, 34, took over from Ally Hogg af­ter the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional was sacked just two months into a reign that pro­duced three wins from the first nine games.

First team cap­tain Laughlin (de­fence) and Blay­don stal­wart, Lee Hog­a­rth (backs/skills), will form the rest of the coach­ing team.

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