Club talk

‘An exciting future’ – comparatives or superlatives?

Glad to see that Jon Sharp seems to have taken a leaf out of Rowland Winter’s book and announced the imminent departures of four Coventry coaches through the most appropriate channel  – the club’s own website.

I’ve always felt that news of any significance should  go through the website as that way supporters have the chance to hear about it first, provided of course they log on to the website with any regularity. Until recently, there hasn’t really been much need to do so as most club news has gone directly to the Coventry Telegraph or appeared on the Messageboard.

I’m a firm believer in ‘Our club, Our news’, although I do understand that newspapers like to have first dibs with stories of interest, otherwise they might as well forward their latest editions directly to the local fish and chip emporiums.

Anyway, it’s another small step towards developing the website as the focus for all the club’s news, something that many have been pushing for over the past few seasons.

In truth, there was little in John Sharp’s update that we weren’t already expecting. The confirmation that Scott Hamilton, Peter Glackin and Dave Addeton will be moving on at the end of the season had been hinted at previously by the new DoR. Perhaps Scott Morgan’s continued involvement in the club was somewhat unexpected, but it does make sense.

Having played most of his rugby in Wales, Scott will have retained links with his former clubs as well as those players he has played with and against over the years. As a result, he could be a very useful ear to the ground, someone who could perhaps get involved in scouting on behalf of Cov in the South West/Wales region.

I’m glad the Chairman has publicly thanked the coaches in this way.  I’ve felt a little uncomfortable at times this season when players have left and there hasn’t appeared to be even a formal acknowledgement from the club of their departures, let alone thanks for their services, however short that might have been.

I’m sure there will be further goodbyes said to the coaches within the club and amongst the supporters, but this was the right way to begin the farewells.

The statement is refreshingly honest, with no attempt to soften the language:

Our optimism was fuelled by some tremendous pre-season results (beating Ealing, putting 50 points past Cardiff) before we were abruptly derailed by an unprecedented injury crisis which, frankly, exposed the weaknesses in our set-up and we were driven to making the best of a bad job

I’m presuming the ‘bad job’ there refers to the pre-season recruitment, and although I still think there are players who came in over the summer who could have had a more prominent role to play, overall those who were recruited haven’t had the impact that was hoped for.

Roberts, Ryan, Weightman, Hough and Hope have all had a part to play this season and I’m sure Canning and Preece would also have been involved had it not been for injuries. I’d argue, though, that they haven’t played any less well than many of the more regular faces retained from last season. The whole squad seems to  have underperformed at times and not just the new players who have come in this season. If this had been the case, perhaps you might have expected one or two more players from last year’s squad to have been retained?

Quite rightly Jon Sharp says weaknesses were exposed as a result of the injury crisis Coventry  suffered early on in the season. However,  I would take issue with the line  ‘we were driven to making the best of a bad job’. It is true to say the club were driven into trying to make the best of a bad job, but they certainly didn’t achieve it. Had they done so, had they made the most of the situation, they would not now be making wholesale changes to the coaching structure and releasing so many players. The best of a bad job would have proved the coaches were up to the challenge and, as it’s turned out, well, they weren’t, however sad it is to say that.

The real failure this  season has been as much about the inability of the coaches to respond to the crisis and make the best possible use of the resources available to them as it is about the quality of the players in the squad.

Match day squads haven’t performed as we know they can, either at a team or an individual level. There’s been bags of effort and passion, with players giving it their all, but whether it’s been a matter of a lack confidence or a game plan that doesn’t suit the players or a myriad of other reasons, it hasn’t really been happening on the pitch.

I’m gutted that Addleton and Morgan in particular are leaving, but in the end it’s the right decision. Aggers is so passionate about Cov that I just can’t imagine him anywhere else…well over 300 appearances as a player and a fair few seasons as a coach. The Butts will take a bit of getting used to without him around.

Scott loves the club and is a firm favourite with most supporters; he’s someone I have huge respect for and I hope he’ll be back watching the odd game next season. He’s sure of a warm welcome if he does. This past 12 months has been a ‘annus horribilis’ for him; he’s due a change in fortune.

Peter Glackin’s  involvement in Henley College  means he’ll be a busy man and with the Nighthawks looking to include many ex-Academy players, I’d imagine he’ll still be very much involved with Coventry. His forte would seem to be in developing young talent, something that he’s clearly had great success at. Watching his lad in a kick about with his Dad before the Cinderford game, it won’t be too many years hence before we see him in a Cov shirt, too! He was bombarded with high balls from Pete and he caught every one of them. Brilliant.

Scott Hamilton’s reputation as a player will ensure he finds work quickly…injury really prevented us from seeing the best of him in the 12 months or so that he’s been with us, but as with the other 3 coaches, I wish him all the very best.

I’m glad the news of their departures has come sooner rather than later. It’s no longer the elephant in the room (which is quite appropriate given Coventry’s badge) and I won’t feel quite so guilty about getting excited as we await news of the incoming coaching team. A number of names have been banded about and all of them are names that demand respect, certainly on the playing front anyway.

With players still contracted to their present clubs, I think it will be a while longer before we know the names of players newly recruited. And that’s probably just as well because there are still 5 games left to play this season, 2 of which are at home and there’s a small matter of saying our fond farewells to the Cov players who are on their way out of the Butts come April.

It’s rather like coming to the end of a relationship and finding your partner’s already making overtures to someone else – at least that’s how I imagine it to be…

The players who will be playing their final games in a Cov shirt over the next few weeks, some of whom would have stayed on had that been a realistic option, are rightly the focus of our attention now. Along with everyone else, I’m looking forward to giving them a great send off and I’m sure they will want to leave their mark over the remaining games.

I’m guessing from the wording of the final paragraph of the statement that although the directors have committed ‘substantial’ funds to the changes in personnel, these don’t include individual donations from Board members.  Jon Sharp does make a distinction between the monies spent and the ‘personal’ time given up by the directors and backers. I only mention this because at the Members’ Forum back in August, Phil Maynard did indicate that Jon Sharp had previously invested a substantial amount of his own money in the club, but it appears that hasn’t been necessary this time around which in turn suggests that the club is in a much better position financially.

The directors and backers of Coventry Rugby have committed substantial funds and dedicated much personal time to this overhaul of the playing and coaching side.  We also have ambitious plans for the development of BPA and for increasing our work in the community. We remain committed to the continued development of this great club in the heart of Coventry.”

I’m relieved to see that he is also prepared publicly to include the phrase ‘minimal debt’ when referring to the club’s finances. Given the rather heated discussions on the messageboard a while back, at least we know how the club view their current situation.

Back in August, Jon Sharp also mentioned that in the 2014/15 season takings were up 37% on the previous year and that the club was on ‘sound ground’ financially.  In the latest statement released today, he highlighted the fact that Coventry is a thriving business generating twice the revenue it did back in 2011. With average gates down approximately 24%, income from other sources must be up a fair amount for this to be the case. It just goes to show how important it is for the club to continue to pursue its business/corporate links –  without these the clubs finances might well be far less healthy.

And what a nice touch to finish with ‘…this great club in the heart of the city’,  a clear reminder that despite the presence of a Premiership side just a few miles away, it is Coventry RFC, with all it’s traditional and history, that is central to the city.

All in all, given the real purpose behind  the update was to formally announce the departure of the coaches (I presume Paul Hardcourt will be leaving, too?), this was a pretty upbeat statement of intent.

Sensibly, whilst being ‘ committed to the continued the development of this great club’, there is no mention of a top three target next season or another promotion push. Hopefully, lessons have been learned from the start of the season and the focus is very much on getting a squad together and seeing how things progress and perhaps reassessing after Christmas rather than set goals which become the only means by which you’re judged. It’s far too soon for that in my opinion.

If the management of the club remain realistic in their goals, I’m sure the supporters and the media will be less inclined to get quite so carried away, as happened to many of us back in August and September.

I do think this shows far more awareness of the situation than was the case back in October and November. I hope the directors continue to encourage the openness and willingness to communicate  that we have seen  over the last few weeks. I’m sure the very positive reactions of supporters to the detailed and, at times, candid updates from Rowland Winter will have been noted.

We could be about to enter into a new era, with the club presently undergoing what seems to be a complete overhaul with the aim of making Coventry RFC great once more.

Me, I’d settle for greater and then take it from there.

At the moment it’s all about comparatives rather than superlatives.

 

 

 

 

2 replies »

  1. At almost 17.00 , Coventry Telegraph online are only carrying yesterday’s Jon Sharp announcement and not today’s newly revealed coaching appointees. Things are fast moving aren’t they!! A massive change, some would say ‘ a seismic shift’ almost.

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    • The news of the new coaching certainly should have the rest of National 1 ‘quaking’ in the boardrooms…agree, though, you’d have hoped for a quicker response – presumably John W was asked t0 do a feature for the paper copy?

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