Invincible Wetherby have won their last 48 games

Coach Mike McHugh-Hicks.
Coach Mike McHugh-Hicks.
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TAKE a look at all the swathes of green on Wetherby rugby union club’s website and, at first glance, you would simply presume it had crashed or at least malfunctioned in some way.

The green Ws on their results page signify wins. And they stretch back all season without any red in sight.

But the 19 victories accumulated so far that sees them striding out at the top of Yorkshire Three barely tells half the story.

That is because Wetherby, not so long ago on the brink of folding, have actually won an astonishng 48 consecutive games during an unbeaten run that now stands at 53 matches and longer than two years ahead of today’s visit to Bramley Phoenix in the Yorkshire Silver Trophy quarter-finals.

It is a remarkable tale, encompassing back-to-back promotions and winning the national club of the year for their unbeaten 2014-15 season while they could be playing at Twickenham in May and all largely on the back of the West Yorkshire town’s own young aspiring players.

“I just put it down to great coaching!” Wetherby’s coach Mike McHugh-Hicks tells The Yorkshire Post when asked what has created such alchemy.

“That and the ability of these players to want to learn. Thirteen of the side that lost our last game (in February 2014) actually played in our last game last week.

“People say we’ve changed the side but we haven’t; we’ve given them structure, a game plan and the freedom to express themselves. They play happy rugby and it shows.”

The obvious question is do they now feel invincible?

“I don’t know about that but what I would say is winning all the games is not the important thing for us,” added McHugh-Hicks, who took over shortly before their stunning renaissance.

“We did the double last season and the important thing for us now is completing the treble.

“I don’t care if we lose games along the way if it meant winning all three (including the National Junior Vase at Twickenham)

“We’ve learned how to win on this run but also of how to not lose too.

“Even when we’ve played badly we’ve got victories; teams come away sometimes thinking ‘How have you just won that game?’”

If Wetherby win their next two fixtures, promotion to Yorkshire Two will be secured while four more triumphs should see them confirmed as champions.

They are also just two games away from a glorious day out at HQ which makes a mockery of the perilous position at which their journey began.

McHugh-Hicks, 46, admitted: “It was only three years ago that Wetherby was going to pull out of the league as they just didn’t have enough players.

“There were no Colts coming through and they were struggling. But this side now is essentially an amalgamation of two Colts teams.

“We had some great young lads emerge to help Wetherby push on.

“That said, our scrum-half, Nick Oates, is 56 but he’s still the best scrum-half in the club.

“Our inside centre is his son Miles. All the lads here are local, they all know each other, went to school together, we haven’t imported anyone from New Zealand or dragged anyone over from Leeds.”

The last side Wetherby lost to was Otliensians 24 months ago, one of only two defeats McHugh-Hicks has suffered in his reign, the other coming against Stocksbridge.

“We’ve beaten them both since and I’ve had a couple of draws since I’ve been here, these 53 wins on the trot and another five before that, I think,” he said.

“We could take this run on into next season, who knows?

“Everything is in our hands. We’re not waiting on anyone to do us any favours. If we don’t do it, it’ll be our own fault, no one else’s.

“We’ve got a great organisation here with the facilities we have –it’s as close as you’re going to get in terms of professional coaching, set-up and juniors.

“Hopefully that will attract more players to want to come and play with us.

“We score lots of tries and we’re not trying to rough any teams up or anything. Our feeling is ‘We’ll play and we’ll let you play, too, and see where we end’.”

Invariably, that is with rampant, ruthless Wetherby winning.

They have done so by scoring on average more than 40 points per game in the league and their coach remains “confident” they will prosper, too, in Yorkshire One once their elevation is confirmed.

What does he expect from Bramley Phoenix?

“They’ll throw everything at us and I mean everything – probably bottles and jugs too – but we’ll be OK if we play to our strengths.”

Wise words, coach.

Tryscorer Will Homer. PIC: Varley's Picture Agency

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