Jonny May: ‘Gloucester can go all the way’
The storm clouds that had gathered around Kingsholm late last season have now thoroughly departed according to Jonny May.
The depressing and negative feeling that pulsated through the cherry and whites for the last few weeks of their Aviva Premiership campaign has been eradicated and replaced by a “positive, can-do attitude” brought from across the Welsh border by the departing Llanelli Scarlets Director of Rugby Nigel Davies.
May is full of praise for the regime and its new attitude, applauding their strenuous pre-season training and positive environment, something that seems to be paying dividends if their free running and try-scoring JP Morgan Sevens Pool C victories are anything to go by.
At the grand old age of 22, May was given the captain’s armband for the Gloucester leg of the 7s series, ahead of proven internationals something, which he states, “was a big honour, to be chosen by Nigel”. He even admits that “he wasn’t much of talker” during the team talk and pre-match warm-up, but that he, “prefers to do his talking on the pitch,” and he proved this, as he was instrumental in almost everything Gloucester achieved.
Although, he was slightly overshadowed somewhat by a less illustrious team mate Ian Clark, who is unsurprisingly another product of the phenomenal academy production line that Gloucester seems to produce. Clark at 19, with only three other senior appearances to his name, took the stage with aplomb and shone with six tries in three appearances. May is full of praise for his team mate declaring that he has untapped, “raw talent” and that with training, his speed could easily increase – something which should be frightening to the other JP Morgan Sevens finalist and the Aviva Premiership at large.
May is eagerly anticipating the JP Morgan Sevens final at the Rec on Friday. He calls it a “big ask”, but sees it not only as a chance to lay down a marker for Gloucester for the season and to kick-start this new positive mentality off in the right way, but more importantly, it’s a chance to restore some pride and an opportunity to “bring back some silverware to Kingsholm, which the fans deserve.”
The final also has a further sub-plot for Gloucester fans and players alike, as it re-introduces them to the villain of last season, Brian Redpath, their old Director of Rugby. This will be the first time many cherry and whites will have seen Redpath face to face since his public departure at the end of last season. But for May this will not be too much of a problem as he has, “no hard feelings” since the rather acrimonious departure of Redpath, who seemingly jumped ship from Gloucester to the more promising one at Sale.
He is in fact full of praise for his previous coach, as he “brought him through and spent a lot of time one on one.” He even goes on to say that there are “two sides to every story” and Redpath had simply just “fallen out with the board.” He also believes that it was actually quite an upheaval for the departing Redpath who had to, “uproot his entire family up north,” something which he believes Redpath hadn’t planned.
May is also of the opinion that although at the time Redpath’s departure seemed rash and impulsive, it was actually a positive one for both parties, as he believes that Gloucester needed a change of environment in the club, which had become negative and stressful.
When May looked back at last season, he did it through the eyes of a hard-task master and was subsequently “down on last season.” This is despite being one of the standout performers, acquiring many accolades amongst them, being named LV= Breakthrough Player, Aviva Premiership Player of the Month and being awarded the Aviva Premiership Try of the Season. However his light at the end of the tunnel came with a late call up to the England Squad, thanks to the injures to the Harlequins pair of Mike Brown and George Lowe, in South Africa. This has allowed him to look positively on last season and May believes that it was a good learning curve.
This upcoming season also reunites Gloucester’s very own Fantastic Four, namely: Jonny May, Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder and Freddie Burns. This quintet of talent is something which excites the shed weekly but May believes that they can all up their game looking forward, especially thanks to their amazing young academy players, whom May states are always putting pressure on them and “making them feel old.”
Regarding this upcoming season individually, May is more philosophical when talking about his personal aims and chooses not to have any specific targets. He states that he enjoys working hard Monday through to Friday and letting Saturday take care of itself. He believes that there is however, one individual ultimate goal, “somewhere in the back of your mind, to represent your country.” But he believes that there is no need to get wrapped up in the debate about England squads as he states that, “you can play badly and get picked and equally, play really well and not.” He added that it is not his job to pick the team, just to work hard through the week and put on performances at the weekend.
With London 2012 in full swing and pre-season still in control for rugby players, May has the spare time to enjoy the coverage of the Olympics something which he loves and he appreciates the other sports being showcased to the world. He continued to add that it was, “nice to take your mind off rugby and watch other people perform under pressure for a while.” Although he won’t be visiting the Olympic Park this time around, May did state that he was looking forward to seeing the 100m athletes in action as he finds it helpful for his individual sprint training.
Watch out for May’s own speed tearing up on Friday and throughout the Aviva Premiership season.
To book tickets for the J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final on Friday, 3 August at The Recreation Ground, Bath, call 0844 448 1865 or visit www.bathrugby.com/tickets
By Barnaby Halliday