Club talk

The club is dead, long live the club, season tickets and a Wasps conspiracy…?

‘The king is dead, long live the king’ or, originally,  ‘Le roi est mort, vive le roi!’, is an often used proclamation following the death of a monarch and the accession of his or her successor. It represents the  quick and complete transition of sovereignty passing from the old to the new and is seen very much as something positive and a cause for optimism. The monarchy will always survive the death of a sovereign.

Just as the club will survive a change in its leadership.

And whilst Scott Morgan is happily alive and well, the reigns of power are well and truly being passed over to Rowland Winter during the last few weeks of his tenure. The publication of the list of retained players yesterday is proof, if proof is needed, that any long term decisions to do with playing affairs are now under the direction of the DoR-elect.

The club is dead, long live the club….

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I’m impressed.

Whatever you might think of Roland Winter’s vision for the club over the next couple of years and his breaking up of the current squad, with 2/3rds of the current players having to move on at the end of the season, he is clearly prepared to make difficult decisions which he feels are in the best interests of Coventry RFC in order to make the club competitive at this level and beyond.

Whether he’s done the right thing by letting so many players go will only become clear in 6 months time, but he certainly deserves plenty of respect for coming in, assessing the problems and then quickly beginning the ‘overhaul’ which he considers crucial for Cov to progress.

And he’s been open about it…transparency with its supporters has never been high up on Coventry’s agenda, and there is an argument that says there’s no reason why it should be either, but as a  suppoter I do appreciate being told what needs changing, how it will be changed and when that change is likely to take place.

It creates a sense of openness and trust; and if we need to do just one thing, it’s place our trust in Rowland Winter.

I also like the fact that when he says something, he does it.

Take for instance yesterday’s announcement regarding the names of the players who are to be retained for the 2016/17 season. He said they make the names public by the end of the week and by Thursday morning we had them. And even more than that, he’s prepared to list not just those who are staying, but those who are in the final stages of agreeing terms as well – in the past, names of players re-signing or moving to the club were repeatedly delayed until contracts were completed…now we are given the information we asked for, and more besides, well before the date we might have expected.

With 6 games still to play, we know the names of those who are staying and we know the names of those who are going.

Clear cut and unambiguous.

If that’s a taste of how communication is to be in the future, then there won’t be many complaints from me!

Except…

I still would have preferred it to go on the website first, even if it’s just 24 hours before it’s released to the papers – many people don’t have access to the Coventry Telegraph and so it becomes a bit of a postcode lottery as to who hears first with there always being a delay before its reaches the CT website. The Cov website is accessible to everyone and should really be the main mouthpiece for all major news coming out of the club…but it’s a minor point really and certainly the prompt release of such important news is very much the main story here.

And what of the news itself?

Well the  number of players leaving the club this Spring isn’t quite as great as I feared, but it is still a lot – by my reckoning 20 of the players who are presently with the club and who have played this season will be leaving. However, this doesn’t include the likes of Nigel Baker, Terry Sigley, Tom Preece, Courtney Roberts, Martin Wolfenden and Lee Everton, all of whom have represented Cov in National 1 at some point this season. All-in-all, it is indeed something of an exodus after all.

Some big names have gone too, names synonymous with Coventry over the last two or three seasons – Sam Pailor, Jacques Le Roux, Dom Lespierre, George Oliver, Wayne Evans and Matt Jones – all have been regulars when not injured. Whether it was because Rowland Winter doesn’t think they will be committed enough or have the passion to play that he expects of his team, or because they’ve fallen short in some way on the pitch this season, or they are too prone to injury or because they just couldn’t commit themselves to the additional training requirements, we’ll probably never know. But one thing is certainly sure…it’s the end of yet another era in Coventry’s distinguished history.

I hope the club does the decent thing and publicly thanks them for their loyalty and for all the efforts they have put into trying to move Coventry RFC on to the next level. If experience is anything to go by, particularly with respect to the recent departures of Courtney Roberts and Tom Preece, this is unlikely to happen.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t, does it? Early days yet, but come the end of the season, I hope the club officially recognises what these players have done over the last couple of seasons or so.

Although there are 4 players who are still in final discussions with the DoR, it seems pretty clear that they will be with us come August. To name them in this way and for them to then end up elsewhere would look very poor indeed and just wouldn’t be something the club would want to risk – it would certainly question the wisdom of releasing such information.

A back line of Rundle, Knox, MacBurnie/Smith and Hodgson, all fit and in form, would take us back to last season where we played some of the most attacking rugby we’ve seen from a Coventry side since the move to The Butts. Another wing and a quality fly half and scrum half and we’re looking at a set of three quarters that is unlikely to be bettered in National 1. I’m sure there’s going to be some concern about the fitness of Cliffie and his propensity to get injured but, equally, RW will be well aware of his recent playing record. He has stressed the importance of fitness and training and at only 26, Cliffie has much to offer on and off the pitch.

Callum is an important signing for me…an underrated player but someone who possesses plenty of skill and vision and who is the perfect foil for Rob Knox. Strong defensively as well, his experience will add plenty of stability in midfield. Rob Knox is arguably the best centre we’ve had in a very long time and if he can rid himself of this on-going injury problem, he will have another great season and will set the pulses racing on many occasions. And Dan, well he’s unique and if we play to his strengths, he’ll continue to terrorise defences as he did 12 months ago. We all know he’s quick, but he’s a natural ball-player with good hands and the ability to kick. Hopefully, he’ll be the catalyst that’s been missing this season for both the team and the spectators.

Young Sam Smith did well in the games he played for Coventry and in his first season at this level, he has shown a lot of promise. Although chances to attack defences have been few and far between, when given a bit of space he is a strong runner and will cause defences difficulties with ball in hand.

Knox, Rundle and Hodgson are bound to have attracted some interest from other clubs and possibly in the case of Rundle and Knox, from a higher tier. Even if two of them are on two year contracts, the fact that Rowland Winter has been able to get the three of them to commit themselves to another season at least, suggests that as far as they are concerned, the club is going in the same direction they want to take.

Matt Price, Andy Brown and Tom Poole were all bankers really and Matt’s retention will hopefully mean the community work that he oversees on behalf of the club will continue to thrive – it’s such an important part of the work the club does and its importance can’t be overstated.

Woodburn is probably a surprise in that he has been out a lot of the season and has always been seen as a player for the future and an understudy to George Oliver (why isn’t he returning, I wonder?)…but he’s got his chance now and RW clearly rates him. Joe Foreman broke into the team in January and did more than enough to suggest that despite being so young, he has a great future ahead of him.

We’ll all have our own disappointments with regard to who’s not returning…apart from those already mentioned above, I would have like to have seen Hope and Weightman on the list, but if they aren’t going to get a chance again next season, they need to be somewhere where they will. Good luck to the both of them

However, important the news is and however, much discussion it will generate, the real focus now lies in how Coventry will perform against Cinderford on Saturday…a win would take a bit of pressure off the club, if not the players….a loss would be a bitter blow, although hardly a fatal one.

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Retained/In discussion         To to be released

Matt Price                                   Dom Lespierre

Andy Brown                               Sam Pailor

Tom Poole                                  Devlin Hope

Rob Knox                                   Wayne Evans

Cliffie Hodgson                        George Oliver

Callum MacBurnie                 Daniel Carpo

Alex Woodburn                       Tiploma Kivalu

Sam Smith                                 Chad Thorne

Joe Foreman                            Peter Weightman

Dan Rundle                              Caolan Ryan

                                                       Scott Hamilton

                                                       Ben Thomas

                                                       Jacques Le Roux

                                                       Matt Jones

                                                       Gaston Mieres

                                                       Danny Wright

                                                       Adam Parkins

                                                      Ryan Hough

                                                        Loti Molitika

                                                      Adam Canning

                                                      

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I was delighted to see that the club released details of their membership renewal yesterday…and what a decent package it appears. Even without the early bird renewal, the cost of entry into all 15 games would only be £12 which, if the current price is rolled over to next season, represents a saving of £3 per game. Buy before 23rd April and the price drops to just over £11, which makes it extremely reasonable and pretty competitive with most other teams in National 1.

However, I’m not really sure why this offer seems open to renewals only as seems to be the suggestion in the advert above. Apologies if I’ve got this wrong, but it does appear that the £168 isn’t available to those who are purchasing a membership ticket for the first time, or at least that’s how it comes across to me. Most season ticket holders will renew with or without the discounted rate for a prompt purchase; not all, but most, although a reduction is always going to be appreciated.

However, it is those supporters who aren’t members at the moment but who might be persuaded to join if there is a clear financial benefit in so doing, who are the very ones the club ought to be focussing on.

Now I rather think that this reduction would be applicable to anyone who applies for membership before the April deadline and it’s just the wording that is so misleading…however, were I reading it with an eye to purchasing my first season ticket, I’m sure I’d take one look and think it wasn’t available to me. Not does it tell me what the saving on normal gate prices actually is….I’m assuming that it’s been held at £15 but it’s not clear and there’s nothing to indicate how much better off I’d be if I purchased a season ticket.

It’s really good that the club has been proactive and released details of the cost of renewal of membership, but there should be something similar for those want to take up membership for the first time. If Wasps raise their gate prices, we could find we attract disgruntled Wasps supporters coming here in preference to paying a big increase to get into the Ricoh…

Maybe someone will clarify the position with regard to first time purchasers  of season tickets, especially if there is indeed some confusion amongst those buying their tickets early

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WaspI was somewhat concerned when my daughter chose to have 3 week old Jessica photographed in what appears to be the latest in baby designer-wear from Wasps RFC, fearing that the club was now making a ‘bee-line’ for the local hospitals and clinics as part of a recruitment drive to entice Coventry’s newest residents to the Ricoh. A conspiracy theory with a sting in the tail, perhaps?

You know the sort of thing, Coventry go pre-season, Wasps go post-natal…

Fortunately it appears this was merely one of the options available to her when she took her daughter for a photo shoot, perhaps with the intention of winding her father up at the same time.

Well, job done…

I am, officially, mortified…

Fortunately, my other daughter, Holly,  has an 8 year old lad who is a Baggies supporter through and through and is showing signs of taking an interest in rugby, too.

Once Jessica’s four or five, the promise of a Happy Meal after a Cov match and an afternoon shopping should be enough to prize her away from horse-riding and ballet which strangely seem to be mum’s priorities for Jessica at the moment.

Categories:Club talk

6 replies »

  1. Hi tim it took us quite a bit to get dan out of ballet and into rugby. Joking aside now that callum has been retained the back line does look a bit tasty.and he said attack would be covs defence.memories of Kevin keegan at Newcastle springs to mind.

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  2. RW is certainly saying the right things and is a breath of fresh air with his communications thus far, you can’t but feel optimistic for the future……however after last years “the only way is up” and the garden is all rosy, i will of course hedge my bets and not get too carried away……New season ticket anyone!!!

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    • I think I’m very much like you in that respect, Phil, always inclined to get carried away by the moment. Going to be hard not to come September…especially if we recruit well (!). Terrible pun by the way…

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  3. Great post Tim, summing up the various comings and goings. Glad to see Cliffie and Poole on list of retained/in talks. Gutted to see a few who might be leaving who have been great to watch over the years – George, Chad, Sam etc.
    On a side note, Cliffie is only 26??? I thought he was much older than me, lol!

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    • Yep…feels like the family’s being broken up…should be used to it by now but it’s always a bit of a downer when it happens though. 26 he is…he’s old before his time

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