Club talk

Ampthill, community links, a 2nd XV and turning wheels

If you haven’t already voted in the Coventry’s MVP poll, please click on the link below and scroll down. It’s going to be very tight at the top, so the more votes the better!

Thank you:

(Coventry’s Most Valuable Player – Poll)

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Ampthill 1And so we reach the half way mark of the 2015/16 National 1 season with our visit to Ampthill on Saturday.

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.

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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…

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Prior to the game on Saturday, Cov ran a very successful mini rugby competition, the final of which was held during half time of the Ist XV game itself. A great experience for local boys and girls to play on the Butts pitch

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.

I wonder…?

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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.

Could it?

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.

 

 

Categories:Club talk

7 replies »

    • Lol…maybe, but it was worth it!

      ZinZan…heady days…hard to believe now that one of the greats would have come to Cov…

      Thanks for posting…look forward to reading your next one!

      Like

  1. Very many schools in Coventry and Warwickshire are given or offered tickets form Wasps. Admitted some of those tickets have to be bought. This is a very good marketing ploy by Wasps and fair play to them for that. With Wasps being a FULL TIME professional club they are able to do things that a club like COV cannot achieve. In the local press (CT) players from Wasps visited University Hospital Children’s Ward. COV have a very good link for this with Children from that ward coming to BPA for a match plus party. This is very well run by Norman Smith.

    On the 2nd XV front quite a few seasons ago I asked this question to Phil Maynard. His reply was “who are we going to play ?) In the London area including greater London there is a 2ND XV league. The travel cost for that could make this a non starter for COV. Then you look at all the loan/dual registered players from Worcester, Leicester and Northampton. Who are around COV, Moseley Nottingham and so on. So which 2ND XVs could you play on a reasonable game ? If you cast your minds back to the Nighthawks games against Northampton which where a demoralising defeats. Think what this would do to a young players mind set.

    If for instance A MAJOR BIG IF. Coventry won every game from now until the end of the season REMEMBER THIS ONLY A THOUGHT. Would not Scott Morgan have too look at his budget for season 2016/17 to bring in new players with a view to a Championship season. That is just thoughts but you can see where I am coming from on the financial front. So the next question as a fan are you prepared to go for BROKE or to continue as a club which is now well run fiscal and other fronts?

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    • Great comments! Re: community links – just think Cov deserve more publicity for what they do…
      As for the 2nd XV, I know that it is unlikely to ever happen unless we gain at least one promotion…but it does put us at a disadvantage. Jeff Rundle’s comments really say it all for me…the Nighthawks isn’t the answer…as you say, big losses or cancelled games.
      I’m definitely not a go for broke kind of guy…the last couple of years of building up a squad is definitely the way forward…providing of course you recruit the right players. Jon Sharp appears not only to have steadied the ship financially but has begun to look at ways of increasing revenue improving the facilities on the ground…
      As always, great thoughts, Mick…

      Like

  2. Hi tim as a dad with a player at cov I witnessed the frustration of dan not getting game time. like you say in your blog players sign for cov to play for them and when it does not happen they end up at broadstreet. In dans case he never went to broadstreet as he was in the squad. In the first part of the season he was getting the odd ten minutes which ment he needed great self motivation to keep himself fit without ever being played for 80 minutes . So when players are in the squad and don’t get played there’s not even the chance of a broadstreet run out. And I don’t start to understand how they keep the rest of the fringe players happy with that kind of set up. Especially the ones who have come from overseas to join cov. And like you I’m not criticising coventry rfc at all I’m just amazed its working for them without having a second string. I can still remember my frustration when dan could not get in the first 15. I think I went to Macclesfield away and dan got the last minute on the pitch I told him in front of the coaching staff get in the car and come home I’ll find you a team who will play you. At the time Mowden park and leeds had been making inquiries about dans situation. So this is just one player they have got this 40 + to keep happy and balanced they have a tough job. I will point out since dan got his chance dan and his dad love him being at cov.

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    • Hi Jeff – thanks for leaving a comment; it’s really interesting to get the views of someone who is involved, albeit as a parent (That sounds disparaging but you know what I mean!)…
      I can well remember sitting in the stands in the first half of last season willing Dan to get on, without wishing anyone to get injured!!!!
      It’s a really fair point about the overseas players and one that must be a problem…
      Thank goodness the coaches saw sense in the end…I wouldn’t have fancied going all the way up to Darlington a couple of weeks ago only to watch Dan run rings round us!!!
      Hopefully Dan will be back next year, but it’s really important he’s not rushed into the team too soon…I guess it’s more about easing him in gently, getting him match fit and ready to do the business next September?
      Great to hear from you…
      Tim

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      • And probably that will mean dan will have to spend some time at broadstreet and cov have to be pleased that they have there relationship with them as it helps cov to no end.

        Like

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