To borrow a piece of conventional wisdom from the shiny-shirt code, wisdom that has on at least one notable occasion been shown to not actually be that wise, ‘You can’t win anything with kids’.
If anything that maxim should hold even more true for the handling form of football, either league or union, given the fact that much more so than in soccer ‘might is right’.
Yet last Friday evening Moseley’s young side went to Bristol’s Memorial Stadium, a fortress they have not breached since the last century, and did just that. Won with kids.
The average age of the 21 players who contributed to the upset of the Championship season was not especially breathtaking, just over 24, but all through the visiting team there were young men not so much cutting their teeth in professional rugby, as still teething.
Not that you’ll hear Kevin Maggs inflating the significance of his team’s thrilling 22-21 victory, indeed when the head coach was given the opportunity to proclaim the proudest moment of his short coaching career, his response was ‘We haven’t won anything yet’.
The win, he asserted, was worth four points, no more, and even less if his team followed up by this weekend rolling over for a tummy tickling from the Newcastle Falcons.
However, supporters and commentators are allowed to indulge in a slightly less pragmatic view and where Maggs sees ‘just another Moseley player working hard,’ the rest of us can enjoy the sight of young Buster Lawrence, and the bulk he has been able to amass in 20 short years, driving the older, taller, heavier Mark Lilley five metres back as the Bristol prop went for the Moseley line.
Indeed in his first two Championship starts the No.8 has made the step up from Dings Crusaders and level four seem like nothing more than a logical progression.
His energy levels, work-rate and commitment have already made him the conscience of the Moseley pack.
And Lawrence hasn’t been the only one. Second row partner Addison Lockley is less than two weeks older yet at Bristol his youth did not prevent him from running an increasingly accurate Moseley lineout and emulating Lawrence’s work around the fringes.
Even the blurred vision afforded by his closed eye, he ended the match looking like Frankenstein’s monster after a clash of heads, could not obscure the fact Lockley has been a real find.
The list goes on, 21-year-old Olly Robinson, son of Bath and England’s former archetypal openside Andy, made his first start last Friday night and scrapped at every breakdown as though it might be his last. It won’t.
In the front row Ethan Waller’s angular frame seemed to drive former Scotland international Bruce Douglas to distraction. The 20-year-old loosehead lasted 20 minutes longer than Douglas and added yet another solid game to his burgeoning reputation as Soane Tonga’uhia’s natural successor at Northampton. Assuming he can beat out his brother, of course.
In the backs teenager Alex Day sparked the stunning comeback from 21-5 down with a performance of brio and derring-do, the sort that at 19-year-old has yet to be coached out of a scrum-half.
And outside him came the return to form of Glyn Hughes, himself just 20 yet donor of a fly-half performance that perfectly combined impudence and maturity. If his positional kicking needs a spot of polish, his place kicking certainly doesn’t and neither does his ability to create a gap and evaporate through it.
Hughes did that for all three tries, twice in the case of Charlie Hayter’s spectacular, length-of-the-field strike, two of which he scored himself. Indeed Bristol second row Glen Townsen bit so hard and enjoyed so much the cheeky little chappy’s first dummy, he gorged himself on another a split-second before Hayter was put clear.
Add the elderly Hayter at 23, 24-year-old silver fox Greg King and Billy Robinson, who in four weeks will be an ancient 25, and it is clear Maggs’s New Moseley has youth at its core.
But contrary to BBC pundit Alan Hansen’s famous contention, Hughes believes the absence of miles on the clock is what makes Moseley’s Mites dangerous. Far from being Generation Y, this bunch are Generation Why Not?
“The young lads bring enthusiasm,” Hughes says. “You saw what Buster was like last week [against Plymouth] and what Buster was like against Bristol, he was immense around the park.
“I think experienced guys all around the league come to Bristol maybe thinking ‘It’s a tough place, we’ll be lucky to get a point’.
“Our young lads have no real experience in this league but coming here we want to win and I think that showed towards the end, we just stuck at it. There is no fear. Did we think we could win at Bristol? Yeh, why not? We go into every game looking to win.
“We are a good team, in the first couple of weeks of the season we have really not shown what we are about.
“In the first 50 minutes we were competitive but we weren’t dominant but it just shows when we turn it on – and when we really want it, it’s there for us.
“We can play a good brand of rugby because we have quality players all over the park. That’s what Maggsy is trying to drill in to us. If we are on our game we can beat anyone. So coming to Bristol, it was a big challenge but why can’t we get the win? And we did.”
As for Maggs, he is enjoying the harnessing and moulding of that enthusiasm. Wearied – and in some ways mystified by the attitude of a few older players last season – he has been invigorated by the open minds of his young charges.
He speaks positively about their work ethic and their desire to prove themselves. A couple of fires burn after being released from Premiership academies, others are desperate to prove themselves having played a couple of levels lower.
And what they lack in bulk or wisdom they make up for in other areas.
“We had a good look at those lads before they came to us, we knew they had potential,” Maggs claims.
“It is just a case of trying to get the best out of them and at the moment they are flying. They have been really receptive to everything we are doing, they have worked hard in the gym with Chris Kemp – he’s been fantastic with them, and it’s really pleasing that all their efforts are being rewarded at present.”
Which just shows, that sometimes wisdom is not everything it’s cracked up to be.