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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Wigton aiming for unbeaten rugby union season

Wigton head coach Malcolm Brown has challenged his players to go through the entire season unbeaten after borrowing England’s blueprint for success.

Brown says he took a leaf out of Stuart Lancaster’s coaching manual by adopting a simple game-plan to ensure his players do the basics well.

And his philosophy has worked like a charm as Wigton are unbeaten after 18 games – one of just four teams in the country with a 100 per cent record – and Saturday’s 35-11 victory over Aldwinians stretched their lead at the top of the North Lancs Cumbria League to 16 points.

Wigton are on course to win promotion to North West One after the disappointment of relegation last season, before Brown returned to the club for a second spell as coach.

The 57-year-old retired teacher at Workington’s Stainburn School, admits Wigton’s successful season has especially delighted the club because all but three of the 36 players who have tasted first-team action have come through the ranks at Lowmoor Road.

Only Barbarians flanker Mark Lee and ex-rugby league pair Tane Manihera and Pete Dobson did not graduate from the Colts team.

Home-grown No8 Matt Atkinson is the top try scorer in the country after crossing the whitewash 26 times.

“The squad is fitter and the game-plan has been revised for this season,” said Brown, who is also Cumbria coach and a past county captain. “Rugby is about being efficient at the basics. England defeated Ireland on Sunday because they made fewer mistakes and mastered the basics very well.

“Looking at our set-up, that’s what we have done, and we have got more strength in depth as the squad has developed.

“If results go our way and we continue to be unbeaten it’s possible we could win the league by mid-March.

“Our initial aim was to get promotion, but now there is something more to achieve and the lads are focused on going through the season unbeaten.

“But we are only looking at games a week at a time and we have to avoid complacency and keep working hard.

“Our vision is to continue to improve and develop as a community club.”

Wigton face a Cumbria Cup semi-final clash with Carlisle on March 16 and Brown would love to lift the trophy for the first time as a coach.

The former flanker or No8 won the silverware 13 times as a player with Aspatria, before playing for Fylde and Vale of Lune, as well as making more than 50 appearances for Cumbria. He also played for England students.

Brown, whose side hosts Blackburn on Saturday, added: “Carlisle are doing quite well in North West One so this will give us an indication of how we are doing.

“It would be nice to win the Cumbria Cup but we will be the underdogs in the semi-final.”

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