A Winter wonderland, Brett, Callum and Dom, pre-season optimism and Blaydon on Saturday
The introduction of an Extras side has been pretty high on the list of subjects being discussed over the last few weeks amongst Coventry supporters, along with 3G pitches and recruitment/retention. Each impacts on the others – at it’s most simplistic, to have a second team you need a larger squad and a second pitch, or failing that, and artificial one – and all featured prominently in poll results published yesterday.
Hopefully, at the Members’ Forum in April we’ll get further information as to the medium to long term vision Jon Sharp has for the club. We know that he has already commented positively (or negatively, depending on your point of view) regarding the possibility of replacing the current pitch with and artificial surface at the Butts on a couple of previous occasions. Maybe he’ll set out in more details his plans to develop the grounds’ business facilities to generate additional monies to finance such a project, should this be the path he intends to take.
However, there’s another consideration to factor into all this now. Namely, the appointment of Rowland Winter.
What are his views regarding an artificial surface and the expansion of the playing side of the club to include a second team? Does he share the same thoughts as the supporters in these areas? Or indeed the Chairman?
Whilst he might give us some indication in April when he speaks to members at the Forum, he has already provided us with a massive hint as to his views on at least one of these areas.
And it will be music to many supporters ears.
In a tweet today following Cambridge’s win against Taunton Titans, a win that was clearly all the sweeter because of absence of several key players, our DoR-elect commented:
— Rowland Winter (@RowlandWinter) February 27, 2016
It’s pretty clear from this that Rowland Winter is strongly in favour of having a second team to ensure the majority of players are getting game time on a weekly basis within the club, with all the benefits that come from playing in front of the club coaches who can work on the same skills and styles of play across both teams that will enable a smooth transition from Extras to the first team, if and when it is needed.
You’d like to think that in making the tweet, he is also sending out a clear statement to Cov that this is the way forward. Of course this isn’t the case, but I’m sure that if I’m following Rowland Winter’s Twitter feed, then there will be other supporters, players and officials from the cub who will be too.
Actually, that’s a bit disingenuous of me…I know there are. Anyone who is familiar with Twitter will know how to find this out for themselves.
Who knows what discussions are already taking place between RW and the club…
Perhaps the re-introduction of an Extras side is indeed part of Cov’s long-term future? I’d like to think so for all sorts of reasons, not just those that centre around what is best for the club but also from a personal perspective, it would mean there would be rugby at the Butts nigh on every weekend from September to April! How good would that be?
When the Members’ Forum was first announced I did comment on how Rowland’s Winter’s presence there would be a very sensible move on the club’s part for a couple of reasons. First, supporters will be eager to hear what he has to say about his role and his vision for the club and if they’re anything like me, they’ll be hoping there might be some news as to who his coaches will be come August and his general thoughts way forward for Cov. He will be assured of a warm welcome.
His presence will also ensure that the meeting is less controversial than it might have otherwise have been…it is only an opinion, but by simply being I believe the mood of the Forum will be different. There have been some pretty difficult times this season and there will be those who want to ask some pretty tough questions of the Chairman and whoever else sits at the head table that evening. Rowland Winter will replace some of the pessimism that is bound to be about following the club’s poor showing this season with a note of optimism and thereby deflect from some of the controversies that might otherwise have been brought up by those present. That’s the theory anyway and I’m delighted that the club have asked RW to be there and that he is agreed to be so.
A quick well done to Cambridge’s Brett Daynes, erstwhile Coventry stalwart, who played for England Counties against Scotland Counties, alongside our own Andy Brown. They lost 57-27 in the end, with Brett coming off the bench to play his part. Not only was he greatly admired whilst at Coventry, he is clearly very well respected at Cambridge if another Rowland Winter tweet is anything to go by…:
— Rowland Winter (@RowlandWinter) February 26, 2016
A return of the prodigal son perhaps?
We could do a lot worse. A lot worse.
Plenty of food for thought…
Makes you wonder.
Our very own Winter wonderland…
Ladies and gentleman, you’ve been a lovely audience.
Thank you and goodnight.
Two days on and another player compilation. This time it’s Dom Lespierre.
I would imagine that Dom is a nailed on certainty to be offered a contract with the club next season, at least from where I sit in the stands, so I’m not going to read much into it, at least not in the same way as with Devlin’s. Dom has produced similar highlights in previous seasons so hopefully it’s just an anthology of his best bits.
Whilst tries haven’t been as easy to come by for Dom this season, he’s played more games than anyone else (missing only 1 of the 23 played) and is someone who is always totally committed to the cause. He is arguably the best ‘finisher’ in the club by a distance and probably was last season, even with Dan and Will, although he’s not such a creative force as, say, Dan was or indeed Rob Knox.
It might be that he has a bit of wanderlust and feels a move to another club might be the better option for him, or he might just want to have his highlights out there for those who are interested to be able to look at and admire. Whatever the reason, I’ve included it here because there’s lots of good memories in it and it’s a reminder, should it ever be needed, of just how good a player he is.
At the end of a poor season and with a new DoR coming in who has already acknowledges that there’s going to be a significant change in personnel, it’s really difficult to second guess anyone’s position in the club…however, I would be very surprised if Dom were to move on for any other reason than it’s his own decision.
Mick Carter reminded me of another poll that is currently still active on the messageboard – at least it’s still up on the homepage but I imagine it’s too late in the season to still have a vote. The poll simply asked supporters to indicate where in National 1 they felt Coventry would finish come the end of the season.
I mention it because it’s a reminder, if reminding we needed, of the optimism that prevailed around the Butts back in August and September. Most of us felt that Coventry and Rosslyn Park were going to be the two major players in National 1 and whilst there would undoubtedly be some surprises on the way, Coventry would be there or thereabouts come April. It would be a two horse race.
The results of the poll show the extent to which we felt that Coventry would have a successful season and even if it wasn’t a promotion winning one, we expected it would be a promotion chasing one:
Whilst only 44 people took part in the poll, over 61% went for a top 4 finish. If people voted after the Loughborough game then this might have skewed results because form dropped considerably from then onwards. Whilst it’s by no means an accurate indication of opinion, the fact that only 5 supporters, or a little under 1 in 10 of those voting, felt that our season would be quite so disappointing gives an indication of the decent that has befallen the club both on the field and in the main stand.
But a top two finish was a more than realistic outcome given the club’s 4th and 3rd places in the previous two seasons, the relegation of Plymouth Albion who had lost so many of their Championship side and would obviously need to rebuild before launching an assault on the title, strong recruitment that would add to an already strong squad and the bullishness of the Board. Perhaps we (I) did get carried away…no, we definitely did get carried away, but in my defence it was hard not to. Almost all the programme notes of teams we have visited on our travels this season, or in the pre-match reviews on their websites, have commented on the belief that we were one of the favourites for promotion, so that feeling that it could and should be our year wasn’t just felt within the confines of the Butts alone.
I certainly will be more cautious in August when predicting what might lie ahead for the team during the course of the 2016/17 season. Dream I certainly will, but I won’t get carried away with it all as I did at the start of this season. A new DoR, new coaches and probably a very different looking squad by the sound of it will make me hope…but it will take a bit more than that now to make me believe…
Blaydon away on Saturday. A week ago I was suggesting it’s a game that we will win. I have to say that I’m not quite so confident now. Blaydon have suddenly hit a bit of form, beating Henley this weekend, losing very narrowly to Fylde the week before and beating Hull the week before that. They are now in 12th place and looking far more likely to survive the drop than they were at the start of the month. Whilst they are still 11 points behind us, they have a game in hand, so by beating us and winning the extra game, they could end up a whole lot closer.
It will be an interesting week for the team leading to the Blaydon game. There will be players who will be returning from injury and keen to get involved again prior to the end of the season, knowing that RW will be watching what’s happening with keen interest. Those who have come in and done a sterling job over the last couple of games in such difficult circumstances will be eager to show in training that they are the ones currently in possession of the shirt.
It’s that competition for places that we’ve lacked for most of the season as a result of injuries and loss of form, something that has made selection so difficult.
One piece of good news coming out of Broadstreet’s 15-3 defeat to Macclesfield.
Callum MacBurnie played his first game back from injury and lasted the whole 80 minutes which will be a big relief for Scott Morgan. Whether a return to the 1st XV on Saturday is just too soon remains to be seen, but it’s heartening all the same. His presence in the back division has been greatly missed and he’ll add a lot off experience alongside, presumably, Cliffie. Harsh for Sam Smith who had a good game against Esher, but Callum is an automatic choice now James Tincknell seems to be out of the reckoning.