Club talk

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

I tried, but all I could manage was a selfie

I tried, but all I could manage was a selfie

The Infinite Monkey Theorem states that a monkey, sitting in front of a computer keyboard (I’ve updated it a bit, it should be a typewriter) for an infinite amount of time would eventually produce any given text, the one most often cited being the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Saturday’s team is a clear rebuttal of this theory…. Put all the posters on the Messageboard into one of the hospitality suites at the Butts for as long as they can stick it, give them a laptop each and as much draught 1874 as they can consume and I don’t think any of them would come close to the producing the team announced to play Esher at Molesey Road on Saturday.

Incredible.

That’s not to say I’m being negative about the team. I’m not.

Yet.

But I am somewhat confused by it all. It sends out some very strange signals to those of us who aren’t privy the whys and wherefores of team selection. It cries out for some sort justification…I’m not sure I mean justification, Scott Morgan doesn’t have to justify his selections…perhaps explanation would be more appropriate.

Let’s start with some of the less contentious choices. Scott Hamilton’s return is a welcome one, his experience has been sorely missed. In his absence and Cliffie H’s long-term injury, Caolan Ryan has done a sterling job and has been one of the more consistent performers in the team. With Jones still out injured and Adam Canning unavailable, his move to fly half is probably a sound one, although he didn’t excel at 10 against Rosslyn Park. His success there will depend on the game plan; if he’s been told to shift the ball out wide and give the backs some freedom to run at the opposition, then fine. If the plan is to kick the ball long, then he’s wasted as his strength is very much in his ability to run at the opposition. Perhaps this augers well for the wings…maybe Dom might even see a bit of the ball on Saturday!

I’m pleased to see Sam Baker back on the bench as he looked useful when he played a couple of games at 11. Tincknell is a fine player, but for me he’s a better centre than he is wing, although he’s played in both positions before arriving at Cov. Rory Hutchinson, capped for Scotland U20’s and a Northampton dual reg loanee, is clearly a good prospect. He came on against Park, but like all the backs, he didn’t stand out. I guess the coaches want to give him a run at 13, although I think Knox and Tincknell, potentially, could be something special as a pairing.

Rob Knox makes a welcome return to the team on Saturday

Rob Knox makes a welcome return to the team on Saturday

Rob Knox’s return is a massive boost for Cov and it will be really interesting to see whether the coaching staff decide on a different game plan that enables Knox to have more freedom to create the gaps for the likes of Hamilton, Lespierre and  Tincknell to prosper. I hope so.

Lee-Everton has to take the no 9 jersey in the absence of Evans who, having been suspended against Park, has now picked up an injury. Like Ryan, he’s also been consistent this season, without ever really seeming to be a natural successor to Wayne. A problem on Saturday would be if Lee-Everton picks up an injury. I guess there must be someone in the team or on the bench who could deputise, but I’m not sure who. Sam Baker, perhaps?

The front row is as almost as expected. Few would want to change either Kivalu or Parkins, both of whom caused so much damage to the Park front row two weeks ago. However, Farnworth is curious chance, given he was replaced after 20 minutes or so in the last game, having himself come on as a replacement together with Andy Brown. I’m really surprised he’s been given a starting place in front of both Hope and Price. And Hope seems to have disappeared from  the radar totally. He’s not had a bad game other than problems with the throwing in at the lineout, but that applies to Price as well. He’s a bull around the park, just the sort of tenacity you’d want when things are a bit difficult. Strange.

And in the second row, in comes Danny Wright. And that is the strangest one of all. Having clearly been side-lined from the second row and re-marketed as a 6/7, sent to Chinnor with no explanation as to why, relieved of his community role within the club with cries of foul play from some supporters, he suddenly returns.

The prodigal son is back.

In Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, on seeing the ghost of Hamlet’s father with Hamlet, Marcellus cries out ‘There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark’; ‘state’ in this context suggesting all is not well from the top down. Well, the ghost of Danny Wright returns…is there, then, something rotten in the state of Cov?

I happen to rate Wright as a player, but with Courtney Roberts, Martin Wolfenden, Tom Hicks and Ben Thomas coming in, it seemed as if he was well down the pecking order as far as the second row is concerned. And so it still seems to me. Courtney Roberts has done nothing wrong really…he seemed to have forged a good rapport on the field with Tom Poole, he’s not injured, but like Hope he now seems to be persona non grata…? Very odd indeed.

Alex Woodburn starts tomorrow against Esher. He'll add some pace to the back row

Alex Woodburn starts tomorrow against Esher. He’ll add some pace to the back row

At No 7,  I am really pleased to see Alex Woodburn back. He was in my ‘dream team’ of last week, someone who adds real pace to the backrow. Jacques Le Roux and Daniel Carpo could be really exciting, but one has to ask why George Oliver, erstwhile captain in Evans’ absence, and 3 times MoM this season, is removed without trace. He’s not listed by Tom  as injured – is he another one to have incurred the wrath of someone in the Cov hierarchy? It’s not the first time this has happened to him this season either.

And here’s the thing. Courtney Roberts, George Oliver, Chad Thorne, Devlin Hope appear to have fallen out of favour with the coaches. It’s not clear if their absence is temporary or permanent. Was, then, the person who wrote that e-letter directing the comment:

Players who don’t perform when they play will not will not (sic) be part of the playing squad and other squad members will get their chance to prove themselves

at them, because you can bet your bottom dollar I’m not the only one jumping to that conclusion?

Does Scott feel that they haven’t given it their all? Courtney Roberts? George Oliver? Devlin Hope? Chad Thorne? Come on…

Perhaps they’ve have they spoken out of turn about their frustrations with what’s happening on the pitch…?

What's happened to Courtney Roberts...?

What’s happened to Courtney Roberts…?

I’m not a great one for conspiracy theories, but if you look closely around the Butts, I’m sure you’ll see a grassy knoll that wasn’t there a few weeks ago.

But in the absence of any explanation from the club as to their absence, what else can we infer?  And if there are other reasons, valid reasons as to why they are unavailable for selection, or just not selected, then the four of them deserve a public explanation to avoid further speculation.

It might well be that this team leaves Esher with a win under their belts on Saturday and if they do Scott Morgan/Phil Maynard deserve credit for making these sweeping changes and I’ll make sure I given them that on this blog, should that happen. But only a vastly improved performance is acceptable…the Board has said as much.

But even a win won’t answer the nagging questions relating to what was said in the e-letter and the lack of information coming out about those players who don’t seem to feature in the coaches plans anymore…

2 replies »

  1. Another excellent piece Tim. Well done for casting a light on a very puzzling time in Cov’s rich history . I won’t comment any further but, as ever , hope for a successful Cov visit to Esher and look forward to Blaydon at the BPA on the 14th.

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    • Yep, looking forward to my visit Esher tomorrow; it should give a good indication of just how effectively the coaches have used the two week lay off. Will be a tough game, but I remain hopeful that Cov can put in a good 80 minute stint and come away with the spoils.

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