By Joel Watson
After taking the reins as captain of Royal Arsenal this season, I assumed that the only change would be that I’d play rock paper scissors at the start of each game to decide who kicked off.
But actually, I’ve ended up taking the role a lot more seriously than I thought I would – as my rapidly receding hairline will attest. Within the first week or two, I started taking every try we conceded personally and I spent a couple of hours agonising over the game in my head after it finished.
In the previous season, my first with the club, I’d largely stuck myself on the wing and focussed on playing as well as I could each week. Even if we lost (and we did lose a lot last season) I could still be quite happy with my performance if I scored a couple of tries.
But after Royal Arsenal’s first loss of the early summer league against Beasts from the East in week 2, I found myself totally obsessing over the performance of the whole team, with what I’d done in the game a complete after-thought.
After that, ahead of the games, I’d try and think up tactics and strategies that usually manifested in me yelling ‘RUN F****** STRAIGHT’ or ‘PASS THE BALL’ as the game went on.
I’ve also found myself playing a lot more centrally than before as I try to lead the line in defence and spread the ball around in attack. It’s meant playing more of a supporting role in attack, but hopefully it’s made it easier for the other members of the team to get over the line.
The plus side of captaincy has been having a fantastic team around me all season who’ve given their all, rain or shine, every single week. It’s hard to be too annoyed with defeats when you know your teammates have given 100%.
The high points of the season has to be the last-second draw we rescued in week 1 against Kool and the Gang, with Andrew scoring a brilliant try on the last play of the game – and the closely-fought win we had against Steve Thorpe Destroyers a few weeks later was also amazing, where we played so well defensively and managed to scrap our way over the line with a brilliant team effort.
Despite suffering a few losses along the way, every week I’ve seen signs of improvement from the team – plenty of whom had never played before this year – and I’ve got no doubt that with another season under our belts, we’ll be challenging for a place in the championship game once again next season.
*Joel Watson joined Royal Arsenal Rugby January of this year. He was fast tracked to captainship due to his sheer enthusiasm, know how and remarkable team spirit. We look forward to him staying on as captain for "Royal Arsenal' next season.