Neil Mitchell bemoans Stour’s bad breaks
Neil Mitchell was left to rue a ‘freakish’ combination of breakdowns and break-ins after Stourbridge fell to their second defeat on the spin.
The director of rugby blamed Saturday’s 34-21 loss at Hull Ionians on an unfortunate set of circumstances which meant only 13 players attended last Thursday’s training session prior to the match.
Mitchell believes that made the result against a strong Ionians outfit ‘inevitable’ and admits the lack of effective preparation for his team is becoming a big concern.
He said: “Last week was an extreme case. Two players are teachers and missed Thursday night due to being on a training course, while two more suffered a breakdown on the motorway.
“Another couldn’t make it because his girlfriend’s house was broken into. To cap it all, we lost Chad Thorne right before the game due to illness.
“Ultimately, it killed us. We started well enough and were 14-0 up at one stage but in the second half the experience of their pack told. The result was near enough inevitable.”
While Mitchell has spoken to players about the need to show greater commitment, he acknowledges there are limits to what can be done.
The majority of Stour’s squad are drawn from outside the West Midlands region and Mitchell explained: “We are a part-time club. The players have jobs and those will always come first. We understand that.
“The demographic of the area does not help. There are simply not enough players of the standard to play this level of rugby.
“That means we have to recruit from further away and makes us susceptible to motorway closures and things like that.
“I need to bring a few more players in but other than that, there isn’t a huge amount we can do about it.”
Stour, who have dropped to 10th in the table having won three and lost three of their opening six games, now face back-to-back home fixtures.
Wharfedale are the visitors to Stourton Park this Saturday, with South Leicester then heading to town the following week. Mitchell has billed both as ‘must-win’.
“We have to come out of this with five wins from eight, there’s no disguising that,” he said. “The issues we are facing aren’t unique to us. You can see it in the results, every week is throwing up surprises.
“We have a good squad. It’s not the biggest squad but we have the capability to be a very good side.
“In order to fulfil that potential we need to be training together, it really is as simple as that.”