Blog: The 1% Gains

Monday 1st December

Talking to players and coaches, and glancing at the results at the end of play on Saturday, there were a number of very close – and exciting – matches.  

In a high number of cases we seem to have put in ‘gutsy performances’, but finished on just the wrong side of these results, leaving us all wondering what we can do to turn these narrow loses into victories?

Dave Brailsford, the former British Cycling guru who is credited for masterminding much of the recent Olympic success in this sport, believed in a concept that he called ‘aggregation of marginal gains’.  Expanding on this, his suggestion was that just a 1% improvement in every area would result in a remarkable improvement.

Rugby

The stand out fixture of the weekend was the JCAs Cup match vs Canford played on The Hamersley pitch.  Coach Mr Jones described the match as ‘the most intense game of the season’, and final result went right down to the last seconds.  In summary, a great contest between two very good sides.  Other notable performances included an emphatic win for the Open 3rd team, victories for the JC 2 and 3s and a clean sweep for the four Yearlings teams.

Hockey

Canford proved a very tough opponent on Saturday, with our squads really tested at the top level.  The XI fought back after a slow start, and despite dominating the midfield, couldn’t capitalise at the ‘business ends’ of the pitch, finally losing 2-4.  The 3rds and U14Cs continued their winning streaks, and the 16Bs had a great 6-0 win.

Lacrosse

Whilst our junior teams found the pace hard going against St George’s Ascot, the senior team ‘dug deep’ to carve out a 12-7 win.  Coach Cohen commented afterwards, “although it was not the smoothest of matches, a win’s a win and the team should be proud”.  Our most experienced squad continue to develop and show improvement all over the pitch as they build towards the prestigious National Schools’ tournament next term.

Overall, there were some very competitive and enjoyable matches.  As well as picking out the highlights in matches, perhaps players (and coaches) can be inspired by Brailsford’s enviable success, and ask themselves to give 1% more in every aspect of their play and preparation.

Best of luck to all teams as we approach the final rounds of matches.

Katy Bennett
Director of Sport

Follow the latest news from Marlborough College Sport on Twitter via @MCol_Sport

Monday 17th November

Last week, the sporting blog asked the sportswomen and men of Marlborough College to maintain their work ethic and positive attitude in the face of a bleak November.  

I’m delighted to report that rain and a drop in temperature appears to have done little to dampen spirits or effort levels on the pitches.

Stand-out moments this weekend in rugby, hockey and netball in particular have really demonstrated the positive character of our students.  As a spectator lucky enough to scale the pitches after an early hockey push back on Saturday, the decisive factor in many performances seemed to be the collective desire to work together and give 100% to represent the College.

Rugby

The 1st XV rugby team epitomised this collective effort and resilience on Saturday.  After a great start, an impressive team from Cheltenham fought back, leveling the score with minutes to go.  In a roller-coaster last few minutes, Ben Wilson first put MC back ahead, maintaining his kicking accuracy under pressure.  Cheltenham then scored; however, whilst the crowd seemed at first to believe the end result would be a narrow loss, Cameron Coulson and his team had a different plan and determinedly collected the re-start.  After sustained pressure on the opposition’s defence, we scored in the corner.  The final result was a well-deserved victory following a great match between two impressive teams.  Other stand-out rugby performances on Saturday came from the Colts 1st and 2nd teams.  Both teams kept clean sheets, with 10-0 wins.

Hockey

Fixtures against sporting powerhouse Millfield are always going to be tough for our A teams in particular.  Coach Mr Jackson was pleased with the 1st XI, who played well despite finally losing 1-2.  Plaudits to our hundred goalkeeper Naomi Weir for some outstanding moments and to Olivia Hazlitt who showed tremendous ability dancing between the Millfield press time and time again.

The final home match of the day, played under floodlights, saw an incredibly tense contest between the U15 A teams.  Both teams created numerous opportunities, often thwarted by a combination of brave last-ditched defending and strong goal keeping.  The crowd where kept on the edge of their seats until the final whistle, and a 1-1 draw was a really great result.  Checking the score sheet this morning, coach Mr Heywood has entered the POM (Player of the Match) as “The Team”; a fitting tribute to a very talented and ‘gritty’ group who were not going to be beaten on Saturday evening.

There were a number of other strong performances on the hockey front, and a particular ‘well done’ to the victorious 16Bs, 15Bs, 14Bs and 14Cs, reinforcing the strength and depth in all of our teams.

Netball

Three teams travelled to Swindon for the county round of the National Schools Championships on Sunday, and all three teams qualified for Regional Finals in January.  However, this was much more than ‘job done’ from our perspective.  A really strong moment for Marlborough Sport was when our very focused and committed 1st team finished their matches, and headed straight out to support the Shell competing in (and winning) their very first county tournament.  It’s great to see that teamwork extends beyond each individual squad, and that the support for other College teams is instinctive here as well.

The U16s also deserve a special mention for some truly outstanding netball.  All three squads will travel to Bournemouth next term, determined to make it through to the illustrious National Finals.

Some of you will have been involved in the matches mentioned above, others of you in different sports and competitions.  I hope that you all experienced the joy of working together as a team, and the great satisfaction that this can bring.

A final thought today comes from American soccer superstar Mia Hamm:

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”

Let’s continue to see this support for ‘Team Marlborough’ as we enter the final stages of this term.

Katy Bennett
Director of Sport

Follow the latest news from Marlborough College Sport on Twitter via @MCol_Sport

 

Monday 10th November

After a relatively long two-week break, there was some concern that our teams would start slowly on the first weekend back.

Fortunately the competitive spirit kicked in and, despite some difficult weather conditions, a full block of home and away fixtures went ahead.

Rugby

The Radley rugby fixture has become one of the most eagerly anticipated and largest blocks that we play. Eighteen matches played, against a large and proud rugby school such as Radley provides a stern test. The Colts were cruelly overtaken in the 12th minute of injury-time, and were justifiably disappointed to lose on the last kick of the game. The Junior Colts 1st XV recorded a fairly emphatic 50-10 win, Tom Hunt scoring his third hat-trick of the season, and elsewhere in the year group the 2nd and 3rd XV also registered victories. The Yearlings were impressive in winning away from home. The XV will be disappointed that they could not take more of the multitude of chances created, or capitalise on their set piece dominance. A 10-13 defeat would have been difficult to comprehend for any neutral observer. An excellent win for the 3rd XV showed what they are capable of, even in such poor conditions as Saturday.

Hockey

The XI secured a win versus Bradfield two days after becoming West of England regional semi-finalists (losing 1-0 to Millfield). This was an amazing effort from our girls, breaking new ground in the process.  The 2nd and 3rd XI wins outlined the depth in our senior squads; there was also a draw for the 4ths and a narrow loss for the 5ths.  The 16As had a commanding performance against Cheltenham, playing some of the best hockey of their season to date.  The U15 and U14 teams all acquitted themselves well, with particularly impressive results from the U15 and U14 Bs and Cs.

Lacrosse

Ten girls represented the Wiltshire and Dorset County in the South West County tournament held at St Swithun’s School. W&D played matches against Berkshire, Gloucestershire & Worcestershire, and Hampshire & Oxfordshire. All teams placed 2nd for the day in very wet and windy conditions. After play concluded Tamsin Bracher (MO U6) and Isobel Woods (PR U6) were selected to trial for the South-West team; a great accomplishment.

The 2nd team had a strong win over Westonbirt; a great start to the second half of term for this squad. Eve Mahony (IV Hu) and Ami Jackson (MM Hu) played fantastically well and scored multiple goals each. Anna Symons (EL U6) and Cathy Liney (EL U6) led by example on Saturday and displayed great leadership.

The U15 team narrowly lost 8-11 to Godolphin. Although the team was always down they continued to fight until the very end. Mimi Grant (EL Sh), Freya Owen (NC Re) and Carla Henderson (EL Re) featured heavily on the score sheet.

The U14s also had a tough match against Westonbirt. They are still a very young team with a lot of raw talent. Although the final score was 0-14, Marlborough was able to hold Westonbirt to only four goals in the second half.  Ella Mylne (MM Sh) in goal and Sophie Gow (MM Sh) in the defence were key players.  We were very proud of how positively the squad responded to coaching.

Football

The Open 1XI recorded their first ever win over the Corinthian Casuals with a dogged and determined performance which finished 3-2. Despite going a goal behind early on, Hugo Fry pulled one back followed minutes later with another goal by Alexander Callender. In the second half the XI defended resolutely against sustained pressure and then increased their lead against the run of play with a well taken goal by Hugo Vivash. A late goal by the Corinthians led to a nail-biting finish but the result never looked in doubt. A fantastic day in the history of College football.

In summary, a great effort across a huge range of sports.  Finally, the thought of the week is ‘inspired’ by the poor weather forecast.  As we enter November, there are likely to be some cold, wet and, quite frankly, miserable training sessions ahead of us all.  However, I urge you all to support your enthusiastic coaches and really make the most of all the time you have together to practice, come sun, rain or snow.

“If there is no dull and determined effort there will be no brilliant achievement” – Hsun-Tzu

Katy Bennett
Director of Sport

Follow the latest news from Marlborough College Sport on Twitter via @MCol_Sport

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