They may have been thrashed on the opening weekend but Richmond’s Vicki Jackson is refusing to let the Harlequins defeat dampen her own ambitions for the Tyrrells Premier 15s season, writes Ella Jerman.
It is under three miles down the A316 from Richmond’s Athletic Ground and The Stoop – but the gulf between the two sides is far greater as was evident last weekend when Harlequins Women put on over a century of points on their neighbours.
And Jackson is under no illusions that the challenge her side faces when coming up against their richer rivals is insurmountable.
But for teams like Richmond, they know this kind of result will not define their season.
While they may be on the same league table as the likes of Saracens and Quins – their aims are to improve as individuals and as a team and not challenge for titles.
And while the weekend’s result may have caused shockwaves across the sport – it came as no surprise to Jackson.
“Personally, it wasn’t much of a reality check at all. I’m well aware we were beaten by them by over 50 points last season,” she said.
“They’ve now got a bench full of current or ex internationals and one fifth of our team is from the local sixth form.
“They were taking off senior international players, and putting on former internationals. If you know anything about sport, you can already pick the winner before the game starts.
“The Harlequins result is a starting point. I think it’s a benchmark of what we can go out onto the pitch and do in terms of our own rugby.
“We know, as a team and as a club, that all we need to do is do things better this week. We need to work on our forward shape, which I’m sure we will after focusing on it in training.”
For Jackson and Richmond, it’s all about taking things one step at a time.
When Richmond make the short trip across London to face Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday, they won’t be too worried about the final result – for Jackson, any improvement on the Quins defeat will be considered a success.
“The Quins result can be turned into a positive when we improve on the pitch against Sarries,” she added.
“That’s where we’re looking to find our positives – it’s all about our own gradual improvement week on week.
“It’s all about focusing on ourselves as a team. Are we still enjoying it? Are people having a good time here? Are our players getting stronger, faster and fitter? Are we doing the critical elements of the game better each week?
“As long as all those boxes are being ticked then personally, I’m happy.
“All sports teams experience ups and downs, and they all have one thing in common too – we all want to improve.
“When we go to Sarries, the goal for us is improving on set-pieces, retain more possession and improve our percentage from line-outs.
“Those are the pillars of the game, so that’s our measure of success.”