The hiring squad…

In yesterday’s post I expressed some concern over the number of players who would not be getting any game time on a weekend (Two into one won’t go). I thought I’d develop this a little further today.

A quick perusal of last Sunday’s ‘The Rugby Post’, and in particular the reviews of the National League 2 North games that were played on the 24th, shows that in the Broadstreet game against South Leicester,  which they lost 22-16, only 2 players currently listed as being in the Coventry squad turned out for ‘Street.

I say ‘turned out’, but Martin Wolfenden and Joe Foreman were both on the bench although I’m presuming they got onto the pitch at some point in the game. The week before was a similar story, 2 players both on the bench, only it was Foremen and Liam Munroe and not Martin W (there was also a Carpenter playing in the back row for Stourbridge so I assume that’s Coventry’s Joe Carpenter). The week prior to that, again two players, Munroe started and Foreman was on the bench.

I reckon we have a squad of approximately 40 players at the moment, give or take a couple and without including the recently-recruited loanees.

I tried to find Old Nick’s very useful squad update  on the Messageboard but a search came up with nothing, so I’m not sure what’s become of it now. Fortunately  I’d printed out a copy of a September version, so I shouldn’t be too far out with that  figure of 40, even with the recent acquisitions of Sam Smith, Lee Everton, Tiploma Kivalu and Daniel Carpo.

With such a poor start to the season, having lost their first 5 opening leagues games, maybe  Broadstreet aren’t going to be quite so keen to welcome so many of the Coventry squad into their fold. I would certainly be sympathetic if that is the case. It must create problems for them  if players are coming in and out of the squad (Le Roux and Wolfenden being but too examples of this), as the well as the more obvious advantages.

And there’s a premiership team just down the road who might be very interested in the facilities ‘Street have to offer…

Now here’s the thing…

…17 of the squad were involved in the Rosslyn Park game, with the other three made up of loanees. So that leaves a further 23 squad players not directly involved with Coventry last weekend. Of course there are a number of injuries, but even when those are removed from the 23, that still leaves between 10-12 quality players who had no match that weekend and who obviously won’t be playing for at least another two weeks.

Some might argue that’s not a bad thing, two or three weekends off ensures that the chances of injuries occurring are reduced dramatically. However, it presumes that these players have been playing regularly before that and will do so after the World Cup Final weekend break. I don’t believe this to be the case, at least not for several of them.

By my reckoning Chad Thorne, Rikki Stout, Haloti Malitika, Terry Sigley, Jake Caulfield, Courtney Roberts, Peter Weightman and Liam Munroe, together with Tom Poole and Devlin Hope, weren’t involved in any rugby last weekend and won’t be this weekend either. Now that’s a lot of players, a lot of quality players, not to be playing in competitive games over a three week period. I’m assuming that Tom Poole, Wayne Evans and Devlin Hope will be back in the squad next week – if they’re not there might be a few questions asked…However, their return means that one of Price or Farnworth won’t be in the squad, although that’s not the case as far as Scott Morgan is concerned  as he’s now been added to the lengthy injury list.

But it gets worse…

Martin Wolfenden first appearance in a Coventry shirt is eagerly awaited, but it will only add to selection difficulties
Martin Wolfenden first appearance in a Coventry shirt is eagerly awaited, but it will only add to selection difficulties

What happens when Martin Wolfenden, Ryan Hough, Rob Knox, Dan Rundle, Cliffie Hodgson, Gareth Turner, Alex Woodburn, Scott Hamilton, Adam Canning and Thomas Preece become available having recovered from their particular injuries? Obviously, some of those now playing will pick up injuries of their own, but that list is likely to reduce over time. So that figure of 10-12 not presently playing much, if any, competitive rugby is itself likely to increase rather than reduce in numbers.

At some stage this is going to need to be a firing, rather than an hiring, squad…

It’s no wonder players get so frustrated at times and occasionally this will break out into training ground fall-outs and more. That’s why the coaches have got to man-manage the side so carefully in order to avoid potential conflict. You’re always going to disappoint a goodly proportion of the squad by not being able to select players on a regular basis. How that is explained to them, how it’s communicated in a way that ensures players understand why they aren’t playing and that they are still very much in the coaches thoughts, is at the heart of the matter. I know it’s still very much a man’s game and you can’t afford sentimentality in the modern era, but there is such a thing as tough love.

I think one of the concerns being expressed at the moment is that this is one area that the Coventry coaches aren’t so hot on. A lack of communication between coaches and players…it’s all rumour and hearsay and it probably annoys Scott Morgan hugely when he hears comments like this.

My response to that would be – if the club let supporters know why some players aren’t  selected when fit available, what the current injury situation is and where players who aren’t in the match day squad are playing their rugby, none of this speculation would occur. And most of that is down to a website that just isn’t fit for purpose. All this information could be added on almost a daily basis…a quick 10 minute briefing with one of the admin. team and then 30 minutes to update the website with the current news.

Back on the 5th August, following the Supporters’ Meeting the day before, I wrote in a post summing up the main points coming out Jon Sharp’s introduction to that meeting:

Jon S rounded off his 10 minutes by stressing that Coventry RFC were very much a professional business. He certainly was extremely positive and set the tone for the rest of the forum.

He’s right.

Coventry RFC is a business, a professional one at that, but it still falls well short of what is expected in terms of it’s communication with supporters. There have been assurances made by the club that this will improve – last weekend just shows how important it is that this happens sooner rather than later.

I’m sure Scott Morgan and Phil Maynard would much rather be concentrating on other aspects of their roles within the club, rather than having to respond to various gripes from the likes of me. And in truth, they shouldn’t have to. It all goes back to better PR…three months on and not a lot has changed on this front.

Jon Sharp wouldn’t have to be sending emails to worried supporters if the communication was right in the first place.

And enough of that…


…following Will Hurrell’s hugely entertaining YouTube clip in yesterday’s post, I’ve been asked to include  one of Dan Rundle’s 2015 highlights:

Dan Rundle has got a ‘Best Bit’s’ clip on Youtube from Cov last season. I often watch this as that type of rugby has disappeared at the moment. Maybe you could put that one on to cheer us up…

Dan could be back playing in Cov colours in 10-12 weeks or so. Some player, Dan.

As you watch, look at where those tries come from…his own unique brilliance, a confident fly half who can judge a cross-kick to perfection, a left wing who could penetrate the first line of defence at will (no pun intended), backs who were only too happy to throw the ball wide, and forwards who off-loaded for fun. In short, a team playing with confidence.

Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to, I pray he’s back to full fitness before too long:

Happy days…

Author: Tim

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