Ross Stewart has sense of underachievement at Cambridge’s finishing position

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 May 2018

Matt Hema makes a flying tackle on a Fylde player. Picture: Chris Fell

Matt Hema makes a flying tackle on a Fylde player. Picture: Chris Fell

Chris Fell

Outgoing director of rugby feels side can do better

Ross Stewart has revealed a sense of underachievement for Cambridge this season after they finished their National League One campaign with a 29-7 win over Fylde.

A hat-trick of tries from Harry Morley, one from Jake Hennessy and a penalty try, plus a conversion from Ben Penfold, guided Cambridge to victory in Stewart’s final match as director of rugby.

It helped them seal 10th place in the table, a significant improvement after only just missing out on relegation the previous season, but Stewart was underwhelmed

“We’re top eight,” he said. “It’s a top eight club and a top eight squad. We let ourselves down, if we’re honest, in big games.

“There are games that you can highlight where the referee has impacted us – the two at Blackheath and Esher; they weren’t us.

“It is a disappointment. I don’t think we should shy away from that and I don’t think the boys should, if I’m honest, because they are a top eight squad, if not top six.

“I have learned a valuable lesson in these two years that at some point you’ve got to be honest with yourselves. For me, whilst we’ve enjoyed every minute of it, if we’re honest, we have underachieved and we have to look at ourselves in that.

“It’s no surprise to me that we played good rugby, our defence was outstanding and we were challenging, except against Coventry where we never turned up and fair play to them as they were very good.

“It is disappointing, but where and why did we not get that top eight; then we make it better next time. It doesn’t mean we sulk or I’m not happy with what we achieved.”

Stewart did admit that after flirting with getting sucked into the relegation scrap, he was satisfied with their finish.

But he just expected more given the tools at their disposal.

“I judge it on what we’ve got, the infrastructure, the commitment the club have made to funding the programme, we’ve got the squad, we just let a couple of games get away from us,” he said.

Stewart says that he will miss the friendships he has struck up at Volac Park, but there were mixed emotions on the final whistle.

“Even when you win a league, that point you win it you think that’s it now, I’ve got to focus on the next thing,” he said.

“I’m sure it will sink in in a couple of weeks. I am sad, but looking forward to the next challenge.”

Richie Williams will be replacing Stewart as head coach of Cambridge next season.

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