If things go according to plan for Moseley over the next few weeks, and all the signs suggest they should, many of the Red and Black Gang will look back to a bitterly cold December afternoon in Nottingham as the day when it all turned round.
While the numbers show Moseley headed into Christmas with an irksome eight-point defeat at Meadow Lane which left them joint bottom of the RFU Championship, what they don’t record is the change in atmosphere and attitude Kevin Maggs’ side underwent against a Green and Whites outfit that has traditionally been their bogey team.
Former Wales international Ben Evans marked his debut by shoring up the troublesome scrum, so well in fact they produced six penalties in the first half alone, and from that stability a confidence seemed to spread across the Moseley team and seep into the cracks like cement. They have won three of their four league matches since.
But for Ryan Glynn, Meadow Lane looked to be something of a personal hell. The young scrum-half came off the bench for the last three minutes and while no-one would accuse him of throwing the game away, a heinous fumble on the final play ended the visitors’ hopes of a loss bonus. Utterly distraught the dual-registered Northampton Saint left the pitch as quickly as he’d come on to it, fighting back tears.
“It was terrible, I hate playing badly,” the 21-year-old says, even though there’s only so much damage you can do in 180 seconds. Heaven knows how he’ll feel if he ever misses a match-losing tackle or drops a game-winning pass.
“I wasn’t feeling very well that day and only got a couple of minutes but I was really disappointed.”
It would probably be stretching a point to say disappointment has been an abiding feature of the youngster’s 2012-13 campaign but equally its trajectory has not been as uniformly skyward as last term. Where Glynn played 19 times for Mose and came off the bench in four of Northampton’s LV= Cup matches last season, he has worn the Red and Black just three times this and featured in only one of Saints’ Premiership matches.
Last weekend’s win over Doncaster, which included his first try for Moseley, was his first start since April 14 last year. Playing badly is one thing, not playing at all is another.
“It’s been a bit disjointed this season compared to last season,” he admitted. “It’s just the way it’s gone. Me and Alex Day have been battling it out with each other to play.
“Commitments with Saints when they have got A team games or I have to travel with them to be a reserve, don’t always fit when the Moseley fixtures land. It’s not been ideal game-time wise.
“But I have spoken to Moseley and Northampton and we are hopefully going to rectify that for the rest of this season and going into next.”
Glynn’s battles with fellow Saint, Day, who has also played for Mose, combined with a couple of niggling rather than serious injuries, have limited those opportunities but with Day likely to play for England Under 20s against Italy tomorrow evening, the St Helens-born half-back is hopeful of following up his first start with his second, at Cornish Pirates on Sunday.
“It’s not been demoralising, we all want to play and play in big games like Saturdays. To come back and, unfortunately for Sam [Brown] he was ill, to get a start was brilliant.
“It’s a bit frustrating but you can definitely build on other aspects of your game or yourself, if you are not on the field you can do as much as you can off it to be ready when that door opens.
“I have built on other aspects. My game understanding, through watching and analysing a lot of rugby, has come on and I have improved strength and conditioning-wise so I have to take positives – but ideally I’d play a bit more rugby.
“Opportunities are few and far between in the Championship and Premiership so when you get those opportunities you have to take them and do well. Hopefully I gave a good account of myself on Saturday.”
He certainly did that. While his 90th-second, 1ft score probably wouldn’t have won him Try of the Month, Week or even Match, his all-round performance earned him the praise of head coach Kevin Maggs who says Glynn’s attitude has been typical of all the Northampton starlets who are sent to Billesley Common to experience the white heat of a Championship relegation battle.
“There’s no ego with any of them, they come here, buy-in to what we are doing and give their best,” Maggs said.
“Ryan did really well last weekend. It’s been a difficult year for him he has had injuries and not had a massive amount of rugby but like he did when he came in last year he got tempo in our game and played really well. His service is outstanding, it’s brilliant, when you see the accuracy and speed of his passing it’s a credit to all the work he has done with Alan Dickens at Saints.”
Brown is likely to be back this weekend as Mose travel to Penzance looking for the win that, however unlikely, would be a body blow to their relegation rivals.
With a seven-point gap between them and the relegation place, one or at most two more victories from their six remaining games would secure another year of second tier rugby – and probably Glynn’s short-term future as a part-time Saint, part-time Moselista.
Not that after his stop-start season the scrum-half is taking anything for granted. “It’s not job done,” Glynn maintained. “A few results go against us and a few go their way and we are right back in the mix. But we just need to build on that Doncaster win, we’ve got a few more games at home, which will help us, and hopefully we can take the momentum from that game down to Cornwall.
“I hope we will stay in the league, not to take anything from the sides that are behind us because anyone can beat anyone, but we are confident in our position and hopefully we can pick up a few more wins to put the pressure back on the teams below us.
“I think we have got a good team morale and unity, which has always been there, but when we went up to Doncaster in my first Moseley match we may have been a bit disjointed. On Saturday we came together well when we needed to. That showed the discipline and patience which is something that has come with maturity in the side.” And something that Glynn has had to demonstrate too.