Club talk

Just shopping for compliments

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The club shop – from the outside it doesn’t look too promising…

I had cause to visit the club shop on Saturday and was impressed both with the amount of choice available and with the very pleasant and helpful assistants who were working there.

A big thumbs up goes to teamBAG for managing to do what has proved extremely difficult in the past, namely to keep supporters happy when it comes to retailing official club merchandise.

The portacabin might not look much from the outside and it certainly has a kind of ‘make-do’ look to it, but once inside the layout of the clothing and other items on sale is well presented and the shop generally appears to offer pretty reasonable value for money. If you haven’t popped in yet, its well worth a visit, although you can also shop online.

This season is one of the few I can remember in recent years where there hasn’t been a fairly regular stream of posts on the messageboard from disappointed and disgruntled supporters who have either had problems getting hold of club merchandise or have had concerns over the quality of the items that they’ve purchased.

And with some justification.

The fact that this isn’t the case this season is to be warmly applauded. Well done teamBag and well done Cov.

...but from the inside it's a veritable Aladdin's Cave of must have goodies

…but from the inside it’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of must have goodies

The buying of replica shirts and other Coventry related clothing and gift items is very much  part of the Coventry RFC experience and good service is something that should be expected rather than requested. However, it should never be taken for granted, so I thought I’d begin this post by recognising publicly that my experience of the club shop was an excellent one.

I’m guessing that because there haven’t been any posts in the last few weeks from supporters who have experienced problems means that this is a view shared by most supporters who have bought from teamBAG. Replica shirts were available far earlier in the season and the range of products on offer seems pretty extensive for a National 1 side.

Certainly, my children and grandchildren will be receiving a few gifts with the Coventry logo proudly displayed on them this Christmas…however, whilst Sue (my wife) is very patient when it comes to my love of all things ‘Cov’, I don’t think even I dare buy her a rugby shirt or woolly pink hat emblazened with the elephant logo…I still value my testicles far too much for me to risk doing that…

… and my eyes still smart when I remember once suggesting she might like an ironing board for Christmas.

One last comment…the full page advert in this week’s programme doesn’t contain teamBAG’s web address which is:

http://www.teambag.co.uk/mens/nationalleagueone/coventryrugbymens

…the womenswear follows on from the menswear, just in case anyone thinks I’m being a little prejudiced there.

I have heard that it is customary for businesses to send a small token of their gratitude in instances of free advertising…

…just shopping for compliments.

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Henley_hawks_logo.pngThe report of the Coventry v Henley game in the Henley Herald makes for interesting reading. Whilst it clearly is written with Henley supporters in mind, it suggests that Coventry’s domination in the first half was down to Coventry’s ability ‘to cope with the elements better than the visitors in the first half’.

That seems a tad unfair, given that the points we scored weren’t just down to some slick handling in poor conditions, they were the result for the most part of the forwards exerting total control over a poor Henley scrum and the backs showing a level of flair, pace and ability notably absent from the Henley backs at any point in the game. It also glossed over the repeated retakes of the scrum prior to Coventry’s penalty try and to the warnings given by the referee.

The report also seems to indicate that although Henley’s defence in the first half was poor:

…in the first forty minutes the Hawks had played 20 minutes of these with fourteen men as in addition to West the influential Matt Payne had also been sent to the sin bin after 18 minutes for obstruction

…as if that was the real reason for Coventry’s complete superiority in the opening 40 minutes.

Henley Herald – Coventry match report

I’m not sure everyone would see it quite like that…

It goes on to suggest that it was only when:

…the visitors were at full strength two minutes into the second half….(that) the pendulum of the game swung in their favour.

…and whilst it does make mention of the two Coventry players who were yellow carded, it doesn’t really link the fact that we were down to 13 men for a 10 minute period to  Henley’s increasing amounts of possession and territorial advantage.

Ben Thomas...his yellow card at the start of the second half didn't help Coventry's cause. But he has shown he is an important member of the squad in the last three games

Ben Thomas (right)…his yellow card at the start of the second half didn’t help Coventry’s cause. But his performances over the past three games have been much improved

Still, the Herald could have made more of the two Coventry dismissals, with Chad’s particularly worthy of a mention giving the report is honest enough to mention that  the final Henley yellow card was allegedly for stamping, so credit must go to the paper there.

The overall report would suggest that perhaps it was the conditions, and one team’s ability to cope with them better than the other, that was the deciding factor in the contest.

As a Coventry supporter, my take on the game was that the first half was a true reflection of the gulf between the two teams and the second an example of just how badly Coventry struggle when they don’t show the discipline and self-control that we have come to expect from Coventry over the last couple of seasons. Or perhaps I’m wearing my rose-tinted spectacles again.

To be fair to Henley though, if they can show the same fight and commitment to the cause for a full 80 minutes as they did for the last 35 against Cov, then I rather think they might have a decent chance of finishing just outside the relegation places. But that is based just on one half of the one game I’ve seen them this season. Play as they did in the first half and the omens don’t look too good.

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mowdenI’m very much looking to my visit to Darlington on Saturday. Whilst I do manage to get to some away games,  my journeys away from the Butts are not as frequent as I would like them to be, or indeed as they once were.

If DMP’s ground is as impressive as everyone says it is, then that alone will be worth the trip.

With Coventry beginning to produce the kind of form we’d hope for back in August, if only in shorter spells than we would like, Darlington is the right sort of team to face at this point in our ‘resurgence’. Still below us but with several good wins under their belts, this will be a huge challenge for Coventry.

With facilities like this, perhaps SISU could be soon be expressing some interest in DMP..

With facilities like this, perhaps SISU could be soon be expressing some interest in DMP..

I’m pretty sure Darlington Mowden Park play in blue and white, so I’m hoping this will means a first glimpse of Coventry’s away strip…which should be a fairly memorable one given the fact that the predominant colour is a pretty loud pink!

At least it should make for some interesting photos…and if it is true that only real men wear pink, then it should work very much in our favour. Knowing my luck, the club will opt for the more usual red strip (which I genuinely do like even though I’m a traditionalist at heart).

…I’d love to know what the players feel about the pink strip and whether they had any say in the choice of colour.

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StreetBroadstreet still remain at the foot of National 2 North despite a hard fought win, 13-15, away against Sandal on Saturday. Sandal started the day 21 points ahead of, and 10 places above, ‘Street so it was a highly creditable and much needed win in very difficult playing conditions.

Although there is apparently some good news on the Coventry injuries front, only three of the Cov squad made an appearance for ‘Street at the weekend, Sam Smith and Martin Wolfenden coming on from the bench and winger Sam Baker playing the full 80 minutes. Broadstreet gave a full debut to Aaron Martin who made his England U18 debut last  season and who is, by all accounts, one to watch out for in the future.

According the report in The Rugby Paper, the game played in front of  140 spectators was a closely fought contest and a game that Sandal should have won, but when in the final 10 minutes play broke down in the ‘Street 22 from a Sandal move where it would have been easier to score a try than not, ‘Street gained possession and promptly worked their way up the pitch to score themselves.

Certainly there appears to have been no lack of effort on the part of ‘Street, something that the Sandal coach graciously confirmed after the game:

They were a physical outfit and we just did not match up but it was still a game we should have won.

They had a simple game plan and stuck to it so full credit to them for working hard and getting the result.

Well done to ‘Street; hopefully this will kick start their season.

However, they are still a full 7 points from safety and they will need to win more than they lose over the next 10 or so games if they are going to be able to avoid being at the wrong end of a relegation battle in April.

I can certainly see the benefits that Coventry might accrue from their partnership with Broadstreet and I’m sure Martin Wolfenden is grateful for the game time he’s had. He must surely be hopeful of soon getting into Cov’s match day squad; I’m looking forward to seeing him play given the very positive comments made about him back in August by Scott Morgan at the Supporters’ Meeting (it might have been Phil Maynard actually, but I’m hoping if I sound confident enough I’ll get away with it).

What I’m not quite so certain about the benefits that Broadstreet gain from working closely with Coventry. I know one of the arguments is that they profit from having players of at least National 1 level turning out for them, but given their current position in National 2 North, this isn’t quite working out as hoped, is it? With Cov players coming in and out of the team fairly regularly as appears to have happened so far this season, is this preventing consistency and adding to ‘Street’s problems, as well as preventing ‘Streets own players from getting valuable game time in the 1st XV?

If anyone from ‘Street reads this, I’d be really interested in a comment…

Categories:Club talk

9 replies »

  1. Cliff, if the question is for me, I have my suspicion of who it might be. I think the teams – the 20 – over the past 3 weeks might give you a clue if you look closely.

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  2. Hi Paul
    That is a fairly one-sided report in the Henley Herald . The “men against boys” comparison in the first half was there for all to see. The fact that Henley then picked up their game in the second half coincided with Cov being down to 13 men. Once we were restored to 15 men Henley never looked capable of scoring again. An attempt to claim that Cov coped better with the conditions is spurious and denies the gulf between the abilities of the two teams.
    The weather forecasters have not yet given anything approaching an accurate prediction for the North East on Saturday, but I do so much hope it’s not a repeat of last Saturday. I’m firm in my belief that dry conditions and the opportunity to play a wide and running game will be sufficient to defeat DMP.
    As a matter of interest, do you know what Old Nick is talking about when he refers in his “myth busting” post to a player who had a “disruptive influence”?

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  3. There may have been one which I was unable to attend, but I cannot be sure, certainly pre-season, but not sure about mid-season. Not sure there will be one this season anyway. Another Johnny Nash moment……!?

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  4. Tim, I do share your comments on the the range of merchandise available but I have written to Teambag and they have informed me there will be no replica shirts above 1xl, and, ” we won’t be getting any more”. I have e-mailed the club and am waiting for a response. Sadly, some of us watching rugby are above a 1xl size and would also like to share the ‘ Coventry merchandise experience'(sic).

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    • Blimey, Paul…that does surprise me. Given a 1xl size these days isn’t overly big and we are talking about a rugby club here, I am surprised…and especially with the response. That’s disappointing…and actually not great business sense either. Good to redress the balance a little.
      You must be ‘sic’ as a parrot..

      On a different note and with a possible theme for another post…have we had Supporters’ Meetings part way through a season before, or is it just my imagination…?

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