IT has been a wildly fluctuating campaign for London Irish with Friday’s Aviva Premiership 43-18 loss to Bath a severe ‘disappointment’ according to Tom Court.
The Exiles had been highly competitive initially as a first half Court try helped them into a 12-13 interval advantage.
Bath, though, were enterprising and efficient after the restart cruising to a surprisingly facile success.
“I think it was an accumulation of things,” the popular Court told The Irish Post on Monday. “The boys had put in a lot of effort especially with our scramble D in the first half.
“We were pushing ourselves to hang on in there which we did for most of the first half, but unfortunately once Bath clicked the floodgates opened.
“The situation we are in; it can be difficult. You go to play a team like Bath, who are looking for a home play/off match.
“We are in purgatory really; essentially we aren’t playing for anything. We are safe from relegation and we are a bit too far away to get into the play/offs so these matches can end up being very tricky situations.
“It can be demanding to keep the boys concentrated at this stage of the season. It is frustrating because we were right in the contest, but straight after half-time small little things started going against us.
“Suddenly then the end scoreline is desperately disappointing because we have worked extremely hard, especially in the second half of the season. We were gutted the result had blown out so much, but a team as good as Bath can be potent.
“The boys can take a lot of pride from the way we have competed recently, but the weekend was hugely disappointing.”
With two fixtures remaining against Gloucester and Wasps Court wants the Exiles to stay focused even though that will be a difficult task due to a plethora of factors.
“The main motivation lately is to play for each other; to keep putting us in a position to win games. Regardless of the circumstances or who you are playing you need to stay in the contest, we didn’t do that for long enough against Bath.
“For the rest of the season we need to keep building on our systems so that we are in a better position for the start of next season. We don’t need to try anything too fancy, we just need to keep it simple.
“Overall it has been a positive campaign for us. The boys are a bit down following the Bath game, but it is important that we simply stick to our guns. There is no need to go back to the drawing board or anything like that, we don’t need to force things, we just need to improve our consistency.
“At this stage of the season it becomes extremely difficult for everybody, coaches, management, and the players obviously. It is an awkward situation. Some players are moving on, others are looking for a contract extension, others are worrying about the World Cup, others just want the long season to come to an end.
“Then you have a core of guys who want to keep everything moving right. All these things mean you have a real mix. Here at the moment we have coaches who aren’t going to be in the same roles; they are trying their best to do things without changing it too much.
“We’ve been training flat out trying to improve. As the season has become a little bit broken up it is hard because you still have to do heavy training to maintain your fitness so a mental fatigue can set in. It is difficult for guys to keep motivated and keep pushing yourself all of the time. It is a tough predicament you can find yourself in towards the end of a season. The senior players have an important role trying to keep everybody’s head on the game.”
With Tom Coventry joining as Head Coach in the summer and a string of exciting additions already announced Court remains optimistic about the Exiles’ future.
“There will be a new start at the club in the summer. The boys are talking about it. Hopefully for the club we will have a few guys involved at the World Cup.
“Those that are left will have extra time to work on their fitness ahead of the late start date to next season. There will be a longer pre-season so we will have an extra lead up. It should be nicely spaced out.
“Tom Coventry will have a huge input and hopefully many of the new signings will be around so we hit the ground running. Tom Coventry has been corresponding with Bob (Casey) so he will be in control of everything.
“We are looking forward to next season. In one way some of the boys are looking to get this season done and dusted so we can launch ourselves again.
“It is vital, though, that we don’t let people, who have supported us this year down. There has been ups and downs for sure, but we are staying positive. We can do well next season.”