Coventry and Wasps – friends with benefits?
I thought Paul Smith’s article in the Coventry Telegraph this week might spark more interest from Coventry supporters on the messageboard than it has.
Okay, there have been a couple comments on the continuing debate as to where Coventry will train both in the short term (Broadstreet) and in the longer term (probably not Broadstreet as I understand Rowland Winter is looking at other options around the city which will give Coventry a training base specific to them).
Important as this obviously is, the main thrust of the article was about Wasps using Coventry as a stepping stone for their 18-21 year olds who are part of their pool of talented Academy players. According to Wasps Academy manager, Matt Davies:
experience gained scrapping your way through a season of Championship or National One rugby alongside battle-hardened teammates is an invaluable stepping-stone to the Premiership
Understandably, Davies wants the youngsters in his charge to have the opportunity to play regularly to hone their skills in a challenging and competitive environment. And he wants it done in ‘quality’ matches.
Now I find this all rather intriguing.
There seems to be a clear message to Coventry here…we want to work with you for the benefit of both clubs.
Wasps blood their youngsters in a league that will allow their players to develop further before making the next step up and Coventry are able to add some talented, full-time players to their squad; players who are hugely focused and motivated.
This is rugby’s version of a dating agency. Wasps have seen Coventry’s profile, feel there might be something there that is attractive to them and are making the initial contact to see if Coventry are interested.
It’s a ‘come and get me’ message if ever there was one…it’s not just an attempt to woo Cov…it’s more a case of offering themselves as ‘friends with benefits’.
Or is this the initial contact…?
What I’d love to know is just how much discussion there has been prior to this article between the two clubs on the possibility of such a loan scheme. If there hasn’t been any, then the article would be all the more surprising – have Dai Young and Matt Davies decided to test the waters and chance their arm a little by throwing out some bait in the hope that it will attract a response?
Or, have discussions between Roland Winter and Davies already taken place and this is the initial announcement of the likelihood of a loan programme being set up between the two sides in the near future? This would seem the more likely of the two scenarios although if that is the case, why not just say the two clubs are in discussions to look at the viability of Wasps academy players come=ing to Coventry on an extended loan?
When I first read it, I ruled such a partnership out almost immediately, having mistakenly thought I’d read that the new DoR had suggested in a previous Telegraph article that he wasn’t in favour of such a move. However, that was me misreading Rowland’s original comments:
Winter is looking at a squad of around 28 to 30 players on top of the development group with a couple of player-coaches also involved and without any dual registered players.
“Coventry comes first, so it’s about getting the Coventry squad in place and getting a new group of players bonded quickly. At any point then, if we feel we could benefit from dual registration links, then we will do that.
The two paragraphs seem to contradict each other a little, but it is pretty clear that were Wasps to offer Coventry players who would be dual registered, then RW would only do so if there was a point later in the season when there would be a direct benefit to Coventry by entering into such a partnership.
However, there is no mention of longer term loans – ‘longer term’ presumably for a whole season. From Paul Smith’s article, it would appear than unlike many other clubs, Wasps do enter into such arrangements, thus making it rather more likely that we might well see some Wasps Academy players wearing blue and white next season.
While some Premiership clubs are reluctant to put their youngsters into the Championship and National One, or only do so on their own often very inflexible terms, Wasps historically do support longer-term loan deals for their younger players
Indeed, Wasps apparently already have 10 youngsters out on loan including at Henley and Rosslyn Park in National 1.
Given that Rowland has been working as an ‘elite player development coach for Northampton’, he will know better than most what players from the Premiership Academies can offer aspiring clubs like Coventry and he has already publicly prepared the way for developing a partnership of one kind or another:
he (Winter)… views the presence of Wasps in the city as something which can work to the benefit of the club.
‘With Wasps on the doorstep we’d be silly not to explore what opportunities we’ve got with them…we can benefit from their experience and they can help progress some of our players.
Each club talks very much about the benefits to accruing to their own clubs whilst not directly acknowledging the symbiotic nature of any such relationship. Such a partnership would have to work for both clubs for it to happen.
I do find it strange that Wasps should be throwing this out into the public domain without having first discussed the matter with Coventry. If they haven’t, then it would be a little discourteous and would come across as the junior club being pressed into such a move.
Were things to go pear-shaped for Cov next season, not that I think they will for a minute, but if they did and Coventry hadn’t taken up such an offer, then supporters might be questioning why, when we all knew about the overtures the Premiership side were making back in March, we hadn’t made Wasps presence in the city work for us when the opportunity has been there all along.
The more I think it through, the more likely it is that although there’s no mention of it in the article, this is something both clubs have already discussed.
The fact that they’ve only made such a statement some 16 months after their arrival might suggest that under the present coaching structure they’ve haven’t felt it’s the appropriate thing to do but given Rowland’s involvement with Northampton, perhaps they feel the time is now right?
I’ve always had rather mixed feelings about loans and dual registrations. Some have worked, and worked well for Coventry – Lewis Ludlum and Ed Milne are two examples of temporary moves that have been successful in recent times, as are George Tresidder and George Worth. But too often they don’t seem to work and players come in and out of the team almost on weekly basis, depending on the players’ commitments elsewhere. I suppose that’s the inflexibility that Matt Davies spoke of in the Coventry Telegraph article.
If we recruit well, then there should be no need to take on loan players, provided injuries don’t get out of hand again. I’m not in favour of squad players having to sit games out just because we have youngster from Premiership sides whom we are almost obliged to play. However, one or two really talented players who are contracted to the club over a season and are, to all intents and purposes, Coventry players, well that’s a different story. If they become part of the squad and are selected on merit, then I’m all for that.
In effect, any loanee players from Wasps would be full-time professionals and I remember Scott Morgan commenting after a recent game on the huge advantage the two Georges, Messrs Tresidder and Worth, have over the rest of the Cov team fitness wise by being full-time.
And with the Nighthawks team consistent mainly of ex-Henley Academy players, perhaps there are also opportunities for Wasps’ youngsters to be involved?
All rather speculative, I know…but I rather feel there’s a bit more in Matt Davies’ comments than just an outline of the possible benefits to Wasps (and by implication to Coventry, too) and that things are probably a little more advanced than the article suggests…
I’ve never been part of a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship before.
I have to say it all sounds rather exciting.
A quick check shows that Coventry’s official Twitter account has 4484 followers.
It’s disappointing then that the last tweet coming from the account was on March 19th which gave the final score in the Cinderford game. The club did retweet a link to the Coventry Telegraph article detailing the very sad news about John Cannon but other than that, there’s been silence.
Given that there’s been some of the most important news coming out of the club for many a year since Cinderford, first with the official announcement of the moving on of the current coaching set up and then the announcement today of names of the new coaches coming in, why haven’t the club passed this news onto the four and half thousand followers?
Having done exactly the right thing by using the website to announce the initial statements why not follow it up on Twitter – the audience certainly isn’t the same and surely the more Coventry supporters who are reading about what’s happening at the moment, the more interest is generated and the more potential season tickets are purchased? And besides, it would just be good practice to keep your punters informed..
Other National 1 Twitter accounts have posted details of Saturday’s matches, kick of times, squad news and so on, but there’s nothing coming from the Cov account. It’s another missed opportunity really and it seems that as hard as the club work to get things right in one area, a problem arises elsewhere.
It would only need the same person putting the information onto the website to add it to a tweet at the same time, something that is neither time-consuming nor costly. But to have no tweets at all in almost two weeks since the last game isn’t helping Cov’s cause, especially when there is so much to tell at the moment.