GB's Andy Barrow on Refocusing After Some Tough Losses

Great Britain team captain Andy Barrow discusses his team's efforts to refocus after some off-court distractions at Florida's "Knock and Roll" tournament.

A Shaky Start
28 Jan 2010 21:41

It was a difficult start for GB at the 10th Annual Knock and Roll Tournament in West Palm Beach, Florida last weekend. Our final preparation was disrupted when a mystery virus saw our Head Coach confined to his room for the first day’s play.

We were immediately goals down in our opening game against a well-drilled Canadian side. Despite some promising Rugby, we lacked cohesion and intensity across all our line-ups. This was reflected in the score line as the game finished 54-44 in Canada’s favour. In the afternoon came Sweden who were using “hi/lo” line-ups for the entire Tournament. This is when two very functional players play with two much less functional players. It’s a style that GB have always struggled with due to the fact that we just don’t have the personnel in the UK to be able to play with or practice against it. While our performance was better than in the morning, we were still making far too many unforced errors and wound up losing the game 49-58.

The sad news that one of our players had to return home due to a family emergency meant that we finished day one feeling pretty dejected. However, we soon consolidated and focused on the things that we, as a squad could control. The next day would see us face two of America’s top club sides including “Denver” who were bolstered by GB regular “Ross Morrison”.

Day two began with a clash against Alabama-based “Lakeshore Demolition”. We started well and trailed by just three at the half while still running our lines and giving the more junior squad members valuable court time. Unfortunately Lakeshore were too strong and managed to pull away in the second half, eventually finishing the game 49-38 winners. The Denver game was also an improvement on either of our day-one performances. We started to move the ball around the court more easily and you could see the confidence growing with every quarter we played. Although Denver won 49-43 we still sensed progress and the mood in the camp was far better at the end of the day!

Even though our emphasis for this Tournament was performance rather than result, I did feel that we needed a win after losing our first four games of the year. Germany are certainly no pushovers so I was delighted to see us seize the initiative and open up a healthy lead in the first quarter. We continued to play with confidence and as we gained positivity, so Germany lost it! We stuck to our policy of rotation and still maintained our intensity, avenging our European Championship loss with a 48-42 win.

This stood us in great stead for our final game against team “USQRA” (USA Development). We took a different tack in this game by using slightly weaker line-ups to see how they reacted to pressure situations. The game was extremely tough and we found ourselves trailing throughout, sometimes by as many as four. However, we dug deep and showed a great deal of heart to slowly claw back the deficit. Experience also played a big part and some naïve decisions by the American’s saw us take a thrilling 46-45 victory with the final play of the game. I have to say that team USQRA put in a great performance and I’m sure that they won’t be letting us off the hook next time we meet!

Our final placing at the Knock and Roll was 5th and next week the whole show rolls on to Birmingham, Alabama where we’ll be competing in the “Demolition Derby”. Check back next week for a full tournament report…