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Paul Morris is loving all things rugby

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 12th November 2021, 09:00

Paul Morris Paul Morris

Paul Morris is feeling on top of the world and it’s easy to see why.

Cinderford are setting the hottest of hot paces in National League One having won eight of their opening nine games, a run that has left their rivals trailing in their wake.

There’s still a very long way to go, of course, but even at this stage of the campaign Cinderford’s supporters can be forgiven if they believe something really special is happening.

Morris, who will be 60 next year, has been Cinderford’s director of rugby for the past six years and is enough of a realist to know that a lot can happen over the next five-and-a-half months, but even he admits he is “buzzing” at the moment.

And well he should be because the turnaround at the club since he took on the role as director of rugby has been nothing short of remarkable.

And to think that if Cinderford continue their current form – and eight bonus-point wins so far this season suggest they might – the Forest of Dean club will be playing second-tier rugby in the Championship next season alongside the likes of Cornish Pirates, Bedford Blues, Richmond and Coventry to name just a few.

So just how has Morris, who has been with Cinderford for 11 years, helped spark the dramatic upturn in the club’s fortunes?

“I work bloody hard,” he said. “I surround myself with good people and we’ve got good players, it’s pretty simple!

“But it doesn’t happen overnight. Along the way you change things, tweak things, bring others in. You’ve got to let things grow, you’ve got to be patient.”

And that patience is paying off, not only for Cinderford but for Morris himself.

“Cinderford are right for me,” said Morris, a scrum-half for Old Patesians back in the day who these days lives in Dursley. “They’ve been good for me and good to me, but I’ve been good for them. I like to think I’ve repaid them in spades, we’ve made significant improvements.”

That is almost an understatement, of course, considering where the club are now and could be next season.

At this stage no decision has been made whether it’s just the National League One champions or the top two who will win automatic promotion to the Championship, but for Morris that is almost an irrelevance, he is focused only on what he can control.

“We want to win the league,” he told The Local Answer. “We want to win rugby games. We wanted to win all 28 league games this season, now we’ve lost to Rosslyn Park we want to win 27. We want to win every Saturday.”

And that desire to win doesn’t look like leaving Morris any time soon, even though in years gone by he said he’d retire from rugby at the age of 50.

“I’ve never lost the buzz,” he said. “I always said that once I lose the enthusiasm for getting up on a Saturday I’d know it was time to give up, but I don’t find it an effort.

“We had 47 players at training last night, players like being in the environment and we can put out three sides every Saturday. We’re doing things better and we’re constantly reinventing ourselves.”

Only those in the 1st XV’s match-day squad of 20 get paid by the club and Morris admits that telling players they are not selected for the flagship team is one of the hardest parts of his job.

“I know I have to have those harsh conversations, I’m alive to it,” he said. “I don’t like leaving people out when they deserve to be in the side and we’ve got a lot of players like that. But the players are here because they want to be here.”

That’s down in large part to Morris and his support staff, of course, and the good news for Cinderford is that Morris is just as happy as the players at the club.

“I love rugby and everything that goes with it,” said Morris, who doesn’t have a contract at Cinderford. “I like the friendships, being in the changing room, being around the team.

“I enjoy what I do. I enjoy winning, I like to win and I like the process of getting to a win. I like us to play well.

“I’m not the rugby fanatic that people make me out to be but rugby does still excite me.”

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