Harrogate coach holds players’ meeting after questioning attitude in Broadstreet defeat

On the warpath: Mike Aspinall wanted honest answer from his Harrogate squad following Saturday's defeat to bottom of the league Broadstreet
On the warpath: Mike Aspinall wanted honest answer from his Harrogate squad following Saturday's defeat to bottom of the league Broadstreet

Mike Aspinall has issued an ultimatum to his young Harrogate squad to front up or risk losing their first team shirt.

The director of rugby gave a stinging verdict of the club’s shock defeat at bottom of the league Broadstreet on Saturday.

Harrogate went down 23-8 at Broadstreet after a lacklustre performance

Harrogate went down 23-8 at Broadstreet after a lacklustre performance

He questioned the attitude of his squad and suggested several players took their Coventry-based opponents lightly.

Aspinall said: “I don’t think we turned up with the right attitude I would hope that was not the case because that would make us look really arrogant.

“That’s certainly not what we were saying to the players last week.

“If people are not turning up with the right attitude, they are letting themselves down as well as their teammates.”

The Rudding Lane outfit were comfortably beaten by a side with only three previous victories to their name.

The result dropped Gate down to eighth-place and came as a shock to the management following five strong performances in recent weeks.

Aspinall fronted a players’ meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the failings on show on Saturday, and he said selection for this Saturday’s home match against South Leicester was dependent on the outcome.

“We really need to be looking inside ourselves on why we weren’t quite on the money,” said Aspinall.

“What interests me is the players’ reflections and what they think.

“They need to look deep, find some learning and ask some tough questions of each other.

“Everyone makes mistakes. This is a pretty young group of guys playing National League rugby.

“If the reflections are honest, we learn from the mistakes.

“That will fill me with confidence that the majority of this group should go forward.

“If those reflections are dishonest, I might have to make a lasting impression on them, which will mean they don’t play first team rugby for a while.”

Aspinall was reviewing a number of contributing factors behind Saturday’s poor showing.

The flooded training facilities at Rudding Lane - due to the inclement weather - has been a source of frustration for the coach, who revealed he has been scouring the area for alternatives to no avail.

The Harrogate squad have had to come up with unusual ways to train, including using the car park near the clubhouse to throw a ball around.

“The last three Tuesdays we haven’t been on the grass. It’s reminiscent of swimming and not rugby, so we do look a bit rusty,” said Aspinall.

“The lack of quality training is having an adverse effect but that is to be looked at secondary, when we’re not turning up with the right attitude.”

Harrogate had been without the services of brothers Jonny (groin) and Guy (concussion) Coser on the trip to Broadstreet but Aspinall was hopeful both would be fit to face Leicester.

Steve Parsons has been ruled out with a foot problem, with Harry Barnard likely to return to the squad after making an impressive debut against Sale last month.

South Leicester lie three places below ‘Gate but have dropped down the table following four straight defeats

“They have an enormous scrum, first and foremost, and a nice kicking 10 who controls the game well,” added Aspinall.

“It will be a big challenge, and a different challenge.”