Club talk

Injuries and a chance to listen and learn, for everyone…

One of the most depressing aspects of Coventry’s season is the number of injury’s sustained by players over the course of the last six months or so.

Whilst Scott Morgan has been quick to play down the significance of this, recognising that the whole focus of the retention policy during the close season was to ensure that there were always two or three players available in any one position as a contingency should the worst happen, the absence of key players has certainly contributed greatly to the poor form Coventry have shown over much of the season. We’ve lost matches partly because we’ve lost key players and as a result, we haven’t been able to have any consistency in the teams we’ve selected.

Earlier in the week a tweet from Adam Canning (and a big thank you to him and speedy recovery, too)  drew my attention to an article in Rugby World concerning a study conducted in France over a period of 3 years (2012-2015) which looked at all the injuries sustained by players in the Top 14 that were serious enough to result in players having to  withdraw from the game. Minor injuries treated on the pitch that  weren’t serious enough to prevent the player taking any further part in the game were not included.

Results don’t include injuries sustained in mid-week training or practice sessions, purely those suffered during competitive games. The table included below lists the 6 most frequently types of injury suffered (so not all) and figures relate to the numbers of injuries… In all, there were 2208 such injuries recorded.

Please bear in mind, these are the ramblings of a watcher, not a doer, so if I’ve made a comment, it’s made from someone who loves the game, but doesn’t know a great deal about it’s intricacies and finer points. Hopefully, where I have reached a conclusion and got it hopelessly wrong, someone will chip in and put me straight…but be gentle with me.

Table: The table shows some of the injuries suffered by players per position between 2012-13 & 2014-15If we didn’t already know it, it’s the front row that suffer the most. In the survey, these three positions alone accounted for a phenomenal 26% of the total injuries sustained over that period.

If anyone had asked me prior to the reading this article which position was worst affected, I would probably have gone for the props and if pushed, the tight head – given that his head is between the opposition hooker and loosehead and therefore has pressure coming in from both sides, as well as from behind.

I would have been close…looseheads suffering most from shoulder injuries and the tightheads from ankle injuries (which aren’t recorded on this chart).

With tightheads expected to anchor the scrum, presumably more strain is placed on the legs and ankles whilst looseheads have a more disruptive role, attacking the opposition scrum and, in so doing, shoulders and necks become more at risk…it would be interesting to hear from a member of the front row though, as to just whether this is the case.

However, what is clear is that it is the hookers who seem to suffer most, topping the list as far as blood, neck and knee injuries are concerned and second in the table for concussion, which I suppose isn’t a total surprise.

Matt Price suffered a terrible neck injury a few years ago which I seem to remember resulted in him having to wear a metal brace for months –

'So in hindsight, maybe not the best idea...'

‘So in hindsight, maybe not the best idea…’

whether the original damaged was suffered during a game or as the result of wear and tear I’m not sure. However, this survey  does suggest that hookers generally are in most danger of neck related injury – and we’re all too aware of how some can be life-changing or even life threatening.

The front row is no place for the faint hearted. The fact that Matt has started so many games this season is testament to his fitness and skill as a hooker, preventing the sorts of injuries amongst the front row that are so prevalent in the modern era.

The front row is an area where we’ve had a few problems this season and whilst we at one point had 6 props in the squad (Thorne, Parkins, Kivalu, Brown, Foreman, Sigley and Stout) we quickly seemed to discard Sigley and Stout, although adding Kivalu, leaving in effect 5. With Adam Parkins apparently playing for one of the Northampton sides (or stuck on the bench), we are down to just 4, with Chad carrying an injury and Tiploma struggling to last the full 80 either because of fitness or the wrath of the referees.

In view of the above, should we have looked at other options besides Sigley and Stout…? Or is the present situation just a case of bad luck rather than poor judgement? I guess you can never see how things are going to pan out, but that’s presumably why you opt for depth…at the moment we just don’t appear to have that as far as the props are concerned and that’s not entirely down to injury, is it?

What surprised me most though, were the number of injuries suffered by the scrum half and fly half. Concussion, neck and muscular injuries seem to be the most prevalent. I rather suspect that some of the neck injuries will be the result of high tackles or flailing arms from opposition defences, whilst muscle injuries might sometimes result from hamstrings that don’t take too kindly to the excesses caused by the quick acceleration…maybe?

Muscle injuries are high across the all positions though as one might expect, especially if you remove the front row’s numbers.

It might be my imagination, but I don’t recall too many Coventry players having to exit the game with muscle-related injuries that don’t involve the knee or ankle – teams seem to take pre-match warm-ups extremely seriously these days with the obvious benefits resulting.

The survey suggests that over its three years the numbers of players suffering concussion remained pretty constant at between 36-38 which, given the numbers of high profile players who seemed to have been injured in this way of late, is reassuring but it is clearly an area that governing bodies have to address. However, the fact that the total number of injures in Top 14 matches rose by 40% between August 2012 and June 2015 suggests that overall the situation is getting worse rather than improving.

The professional game seems to demand that players get bigger, faster and stronger and the potential rewards from a successful career in the game could be contributing to players taking greater risks on the field, as well as off it. I guess one of the worries is that players feel they need to play on through injury or return before an injury has completely healed  – the longer they are out of the team, the more opportunities other players have to stake their claim. Players and coaches must sometimes find themselves in an invidious position, caught between doing the right thing and protecting themselves or their players from injury ,whilst having to deal with pressures, both internal and external, resulting from the need to win…

…but not at all costs

I guess the position to be in is either in the centres or out on the wing, but try telling that to Callum, Rob or Dan. However, many of the injuries sustained by Coventry players over the last 6 months have happened outside of the match day environment, something this survey didn’t consider and which would be much harder to either monitor or influence.

Anyway, food for thought, if nothing else….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was pleased to see that a poster on the messageboard had asked about the date of the next Members’ Forum and even more so when, after someone else had suggested him emailing the Chairman, he later posted that he had now done so and was awaiting a reply.

Good on him and on the other posters who added their support/interest. supporters are going to want to ask questions of the Board when things aren’t going well and when there’s a wall of silence coming out of the club because if, as a supporter, you keep asking questions and no answers are forthcoming, then it appears as if your voice isn’t valued. And by club, I refer not to Scott Morgan or the coaches, but to the Board.

They are the ones (through Jon Sharp) who took responsibility, along with Scott Morgan and Phil Maynard, for the recruitment pre-season, they are the ones who (through the October/November e-letter) publicly blamed the players and they are the ones who took the decision to appoint Rowland Winter, seemingly without consulting either Scott or the coaches. It is they who are ultimately accountable, and it is they who should be talking to the supporters. True there is no obligation on them, but surely it would be the right thing to do?

I think the supporters deserve that.

This is the best supported club in the league, support that has remained pretty constant despite some fairly average performances at home this season. Many other clubs have suffered reductions in their attendances during the season, but Cov’s remains where it was at the start. But supporters shouldn’t be taken for granted and the right thing to do would be for the Board to front up and answer the questions supporters have been raising for weeks now. It’s about being accountable. It’s not easy, but if you set yourself up for the role, you take the rough with the smooth.

It might well be that one or two of the coaches and a couple of players are present, too; the coaches to talk about what’s happened from their perspective and the players from theirs. It would give a balance and take some pressure of Jon Sharp or whichever other Board members choose to be present. You ensure standards are maintained and improvements made through challenge and rigour and all most of us want to hear is that everyone is working to sort it out – this is why the decisions have been made and this is what we hope to achieve by making them come the end of the season. Add a bit about the management structure, recruitment for next season and improvements to the ground and most of it would be covered. Structure it carefully, have a strong person chairing the meeting and it would be fine.  Have Pete Glackin there to talk about the Academy , one of the big pluses again…Personally, I’d like Scott Morgan to be there, if only for supporters to thank him and whatever the right and wrongs of the appointment of the new DoR, to wish him well. 

If the Board were concerned, you could even ask for the questions in advance so you have can control the discussions – it’s not ideal but if it means that supporters would have an opportunity to at least listen to those who run the club, then it’s better than nothing. If I were on the Board, I’d get Rowland Winter in to have a quick chat…nothing would have a greater effect on quieting the audience as everyone would be looking to welcome him and wouldn’t want to be seen to rock the boat…

I accept it wouldn’t be the easiest of meetings. However, I think most supporters hold Jon Sharp in high regard, as they do Scott Morgan and the coaches. Supporters might question some of the decisions that appear to have been made this season, both on and off the field, as well as the problems with communication, but I honestly believe it would be done so in a responsible way.

I do have some sympathy for the Board…they could never have envisaged this scenario back in September when the league programme started and they are powerless to do anything once the players get on to the pitch and the referee blows his whistle. But they are also human, and sometimes we get things wrong and when we do, we hold up our hands and admit it and listen to those who have something to say and then we  learn from our mistakes. Where the Board have got it wrong, in my opinion, is they haven’t listened…perhaps that’s unfair because how can we know they haven’t if they won’t talk to the supporters?

Maybe they’ve listened but not responded…in many respects, though, one is just as bad as the other.

It can be so easily rectified. One Forum,  an hour and a half of open and frank discussion and the promise to listen.

We are where we are and we can’t turn the clocks back, but we can do something, together, about the future.

Its also a chance for the Board to have their say…that would be only right and proper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 replies »

  1. Bluenwriter ? An outsider you have to be having us on ! I know of what you have done with donations to the bond, plus your family record of support over VERY many years. Player sponsorship and other avenues. Maybe an outsider as you were not on the inside. But knowing you plus even more depth with this blog. You felt and lived in fear in those troubled times. (I got banished to the back bedroom because i could not sleep with worry) So Mr Tim Smith you are never an outsider. But like all “True Blue and Whites” a VIP FAN.

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  2. I was musing, whilst reading your blog this morning, that one person we never hear of lately is Peter Rossborough. Am I right in thinking that he is life president and still on the board?
    As one of those involved in saving the club after the Andrew Green debacle and a link to the glory days of the club it’s a shame we no longer hear his thoughts on club matters.
    He was circulating in the bar after the Hull game but maybe he feels that the role of spokesman for the club is now completely down to John Sharp.
    If we think things aren’t great now maybe we should remember this…
    http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-rugby-club-president-attacks-3071280

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    • Yes – difficult times. As an outsider I really feared for the club back then. And if the implication is that Rosie was a tour de force then, where is he now…I guess I’d have to agree. He has soul and he is in the soul of the club…his silence perhaps suggests that either he is fully behind what his happening or he’s watching and waiting, keeping an eye on things without interfering. He still does a lot of PR (excuse the pun) as a front man, speaking/hosting corporate dinner and so on…sometimes he would be good just to sit down and have a chat with individuals that you respect and listen to their views. However, I guess they’d all toe the party line, irrespective of their own opinions; I probably would in that situation too.
      He, along with others, helped the club survive some torrid times and yes, you’re right, it would be good to see him come to the fore again and mediate between the Board and one or two (!) frustrated fans. His, I’m sure, would be the voice of reason…

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