England coach Lancaster helps inspire Vandals safety bid
Forward thinking: Vandals number eight Adam Bullett shows the determination that brought Saturday's 17-10 win over Old Alleynians
If Weybridge Vandals escape London Division Three South West relegation, club captain Paul Hollingshead will be writing a special thank you to England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
The 42-year-old has breathed new life in to English rugby in the last few months and performed a similar trick at Vandals last week, by sending a good luck email to skipper Tony Couzens’s men that helped inspire them to a final day triumph over league leaders Old Alleynians.
Vandals, who won 22-15 at Sandown & Shanklin last time out, needed to win to stand a chance of avoiding the drop and a second half Daryl Bryant try and a late Cassian Bramham-Law effort duly delivered a 17-10 victory at Brownacres on Saturday.
A win for Purley John Fisher meant head coach Nick Ridley’s side finished fourth from bottom in the table, with three teams – Old Freemans, Alton and Andover – certain to be relegated from the London divisional set-up.
It is yet to be confirmed whether a fourth London Division Three South West side will drop into the county leagues, although league officials expect the situation to be clarified by the end of the month.
And if Vandals survive Hollingshead admitted Lancaster - who sent his messgae in the lead up to Saturday's win - would be the first to know.
"What a brilliant and insightful thing for him to do. He knows nothing about our situation, but he still took the time to write to us and he got it absolutely spot on," he said.
"You can see why he is England coach and I'll be writing to thank him as soon as I can."
Oxford Blue Bramham-Law’s heroics may have stolen the headlines on the day, but first team skipper Couzens was left in no doubt where Lancaster’s words of wisdom had struck a chord most.
“Like the game against Sandown, it was our forwards that won us the game,” he said.
“It was nice to see the tries being run in, but it was the determination and belief from the forwards that was the difference."
Couzens added: “Whatever happens, a lot of players have already committed to being here next year.
“Even if we are relegated we are in a strong position to bounce straight back up. If we don't go down then no team in this division is out of our reach.”
England head coach Stuart Lancaster's message:
To Weybridge Vandals,
I understand you have a key relegation battle this weekend and you needed a little support.
For me the most important thing in winning big games is the reason why - i.e which team has the stronger motivation (internally) to win - and it strikes me that you guys should win hands down, if they have already been promoted and you need to win.
Secondly, to win big games you need to believe you can win. Self belief and team belief are key. Think positively and prepare properly 24 hours out from the game and you never know what might happen.