Ampthill, community links, a 2nd XV and turning wheels
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In the Weekly Preview on the messageboard Ampthill are referred to as ‘Ampthill and District’, but their own website only refers to the club as Ampthill, so perhaps the ‘and district’ is a leftover appendage from a previous era in the club’s history?
Given the fact that Ampthill pride themselves on being a community club, then that would make sense.
Indeed, in their website, Ampthill make the bold statement that they:
…aspire to be the most ‘professional’ community rugby club in the country, we aim to offer the best possible player development environment through high quality coaches, support staff and volunteers to aid players of all abilities to reach their potential.
and in fairness they seem to well on their to achieving that goal, having been awarded the Sport England Clubmark.
This accreditation apparently recognises the excellent work they do at mini and youth level, together with the ‘ increased status and credibility with local authorities, educational establishments and potential sponsors’. There are plenty of photos of them receiving their Clubmark, as well as the Whole Club Seal of Approval which recognises;
the effort and achievement of volunteers in reaching the standard required in the development of rugby across the whole club, and to plan for the long term sustainability of the club and rugby union.
Ampthill appear to be a club very much on the up.
And they want people to know that. And quite right, too!
Their website is rather more formal in its design than Coventry’s and isn’t overly welcoming, probably less so than ours, but it is extremely informative. There is a lot of materials on there that would be of great interest to a supporter of the club…if anyone from Cov were to undertake a bit of market research on what clubs offer on the website’s, then Ampthill’s would be a good place to start.
The excellent promotional video above is on the Henley website.
I appreciate that Henley College take most of the plaudits for the brilliant work it does with older students and it’s reputation is national rather than local, yet this wouldn’t happen without younger boys and girls being enthused at a much younger age.
And this is exactly what Coventry are doing through their own community links.
Given the fantastic work that Matt Price and his team undertake in liaising with local schools and organising the various holiday camps, shouldn’t the club be seeking accreditation in the same way that Ampthill has done in recognition of what the club is doing in this area?
Not necessary the same Quality Mark, but something that shouts out, ‘Hey, we’re good at what we do!’
As a recently retired teacher, I appreciate as much as anyone how sport can offer an alternative pathway to self growth, and provide a sense of happiness and well-being that the more academic routes can’t always provide. It also helps to promote the wider key skills such as team building and leadership which are such drivers in adult life.
So support for schools and the local community in general is not only a vital part of Coventry’s own growth, but also that of the area in which it serves.
I’m not altogether sure we do enough to celebrate it…
Coventry sees itself very much as a community club in the same way Ampthill does (Your City, Your Club after all) and last Saturday’s minis’ games, both before the game and at half time, are indicative of the good work being done.
It’s there, big and bold, on our CV and we ought to be making more of it. And if there is accreditation available out there to go with it, let’s go for it.
Ampthill and Coventry have to take very different approaches to community cohesion. Ampthill are particularly blessed in that they have several pitches at their disposal and can offer matches at the club across senior, youth, minis and ladies levels, something Coventry just aren’t able to do, given the lack of facilities.
Ampthill have a staggering 35o registered youth players – if just 1% of them go onto play national or regional league rugby, that’s 11 or 12 future ‘stars’ whom Ampthill are presently be nurturing.
Not bad going at all.
Coventry have to focus more on outreach work in order to get the message out to the community at large, something that in many ways is much more difficult to set up, for all sorts of logistical reasons. All the more reason to celebrate what the club is achieving.
As I skimmed through the Ampthill website, it did make me recall just how much effort outside of the teaching is involved in working with youngsters. It is something I always used to take for granted, but because Ampthill publish all their documents pertaining to health and safety and safeguarding on their site, as well as their other policies and various job descriptions, it brings it all home once again. Those who offer their time and expertise, especially at weekends or in the holidays deserve huge praise.
Coventry are at a disadvantage in that they have to go into schools for much of the work they do, rather than the reverse as in the case of Ampthill. I hope Matt and his colleagues continue to develop their links within the local community and that we hear more all they are doing to develop that side of the club. There is usually something in the match day programme, but not everyone buys one and not every Cov supporter attends all the home games.
Where else could be a showcase for the work we do within the community.
Whilst the messageboard has remained very quiet since the relative frenzy of last Friday, there has been one topic that was offered up for discussion, receiving some response, only to quickly peter out, which is a shame because it probably merits further consideration.
‘Chow Chow’ (I’m not even going to ask!) suggested that Cov might be at a disadvantage by not having a 2nd XV, and that perhaps the Broadstreet partnership doesn’t offer the same benefits that a second team might.
Now I appreciate that there are far too many difficulties attached to the running of a 2nd XV, including cost incurred, the size of the squad required and the lack of additional pitches, to name but three, for it to ever happen, or at least to happen any time soon.
But that doesn’t stop it being a good idea in itself, and that’s not taking anything away from the tangible gains that already come from our close links with Broadstreet.
True, there have been players this season who have gone to Broadstreet to get some games under their belts in order to regain match fitness after injury, before returning to Coventry. Jacques Le Roux is the most obvious player to have benefited in this way. Danny Wright played several games whilst biding his time before receiving the call. Tom Preece and Cliffie Hodgson are there now, both having come back after injury, so it clearly is of great benefit to be able to use the partnership in this way.
I think Ryan Hough might have been at Leicester Lions whilst he returned to full fitness.
Others, like Courtney Roberts, Sam Baker, Joe Foreman, Loti Malatika, Sam Smith, Martin Wolfenden and Rikki Stout have all appeared, or are presently appearing, in ‘Street colours this season. None of these have profited greatly by their time there in the sense they haven’t been able to force their way into the Coventry side on the basis of their performances for ‘Street, presumably the reason why they signed for Coventry n the first place.
Nor, probably, have Broadstreet profited greatly, given they lie bottom but one in National 2N.
And its the latter group of players about whom I most worry.
I think ‘Street can only play four ‘loanees’ at any one time, so when key players like Jacques and Cliffie need the run out, fringe players like those previously mentioned have to make way. Courtney, in particular, must be hugely frustrated at playing his rugby in tier 4 when he came to Cov with such high aspirations.
If some of our squad on match days watch from the stands when there’s been no indication from the club that they were currently injured, then it can’t be beneficial for them or to the club in the long run to remain inactive on match days. It must impact on morale, especially at training sessions during the week, surely?
As the season develops and players fail to break into the 1st team, there must be a huge sense of disappointment for them…where do players go mid-season if they can’t get a game with Coventry or Broadstreet? Are they released, do they invariably find a club to be loaned out to other than ‘Street or do they end up playing little or no rugby until they can sign on for a new club for the following season? I really don’t know…
Keeping a squad of 40+ motivated and completely focused must be a real challenge for Scott and the other coaches.
The above is not a criticism, implied or otherwise, of Coventry at all and is just an opinion, not a statement of fact. Coventry’s hand’s are tied, as far as I can see, they can’t do anything to change the situation, even supposing they would want to. But it’s a shame the discussion on the messageboard didn’t develop because it would be really interesting to hear the other side of the argument. All I’m suggesting is, as good as it is, our partnership with Broadstreet could never realise the potential benefits that would accrue from Coventry having it’s own 2nd Xv.
Cov have to ensure they have a squad large enough to cope with all eventualities, but when it reaches 40+ as it is at the moment, then even when leaving aside those players who are injured at any one time, (for the sake of argument, let’s say 10) and the match day squad and 2 travelling replacements (22), that still leaves a minimum of 8 who aren’t accounted for. If ‘Street take 3-4 you could be left with 5 or more players at least who don’t appear to have a game on a weekend?
Whilst Coventry are so limited in their facilities, they will always have to rely on close links with neighbouring clubs. I can’t see a time in the short to medium term when we’ll ever be able to run more than just one team, other than the odd Nighthawks affair. We have to be grateful for what we have, and we have Broadstreet, and that is no bad thing at all.
But with Wasps constantly on the look out to further expand their empire, is Broadstreet safe from their clutches. Will there yet be a sting in the tail on that front (sorry, too good to resist).
In an ideal world we’d own the land to be able to run several teams, develop a stadium as our climb up to the Premiership takes off and have the financial clout to be able to attract the very best players available at our level…
..or maybe that wouldn’t be so ideal.
Yeah, I’d like a bit more success on the pitch, perhaps a bit more sponsorship coming in that can be directed towards recruitment next season and maybe a regular 2nd XV to watch mid-week or when away day travel just isn’t feasible. But you have to take the take the rough with the smooth and at the moment the road ahead isn’t just uneven, it’s positively bumpy.
But wheels turn…
… and circles get to become whole again…
…provided you never stop believing.