Blaydon coach Hall Charlton is playing down the significance of Saturday’s trip to Tynedale, admitting players and club officials can do more harm than good by building up the National One derby.
Having made more than 200 appearances for Newcastle Falcons, and earning England Saxons recognition, the former scrum-half is speaking from experience when it comes to the psychology required to perform in big games.
Charlton said: “The players build it up hugely, as do the alickadoos. It is what the club members’ season is made of, but from our point of view it is the second game out of 30 we will play in this division.
“It doesn’t make or break your year and, other than a few local bragging rights, it is no more significant than any other match. Our job as coaches is just to keep the players calm.
“They get so worked up about the derby, playing against their mates in many cases, and it is not constructive. We just want them focusing on the processes of their game, rather than who their opposition is.”
Both Blaydon and Tynedale go into Saturday’s game on the back of heavy opening-day defeats, the former beaten at home by Loughborough, and Tynedale by Henley.
Charlton was forced into an unlikely playing comeback during his side’s 34-9 defeat, stating: “I wasn’t even meant to be playing this season. I thought I was finished.
“I had done absolutely nothing during pre-season, not a single session, and I was knackered by the end of the warm-up, never mind the game!”
Explaining why he was forced into action, the 33-year-old added: “It was only through circumstance that I was forced to pull the old boots back on, because we found out just before the game that Jonny Burn wasn’t registered for us.
“It turns out that when the Falcons academy de-registered him over the summer it also de-registered him for us, for some reason. Luckily we spotted it in time and avoided playing an ineligible player, but the upshot was that Micky Ward coaxed me out of retirement.
“Jonny will be absolutely fine for Tynedale and there are no problems with his registration, it was just one of those things that was picked up too late for last weekend.”
Departing the fray before half-time clutching his chest, Charlton said: “I just did a rib cartilage, landing on someone’s knee. It’s getting too rough for me now, this rugby lark. I must be getting so old that my bones are too brittle for it!
“Our open-side Rob Bell went in there and gave it a good go for the remainder of the game, as he has had to do once or twice in the past. I have no plans of being involved this weekend from a playing standpoint, and in terms of how long I will be out for, it will be as long as possible if I have anything to do with it!”
Looking for major improvements on last weekend’s five-try defeat, Charlton said: “We just did everything not very well, if that makes any sense. Our defensive width was poor, and I think any team in the league would have turned us over when we were playing as badly as that.
“It wasn’t like we didn’t turn up, but things just didn’t seem to happen for us. From there we started chasing it, and Loughborough got three easy tries from turnovers which made the scoreline look a lot worse than it should have been.
“It flattered them, to be honest, but it was our own fault, we completely lost our structure. The more I watch the video the worse it seems to get.
“I need to throw the disc away, because it was only a one-off and we know we are much better than that.”
Expecting a stern test at Tynedale, he added: “No matter how bad their first game was, it is still very early into the season and they have a lot of good players.
“They just seem to raise their standard against us, and when you look at the recent derbies they have all been pretty tight. Andy Buist has done well to come back, and they have recruited very well when you look at their signings.
“The Beasley brothers coming back will be great for them, and gives them the kind of experience you need at this level.”