I always feel much happier when Coventry release the team news on a Thursday afternoon, rather than delaying it until Friday.
An early announcement suggests that the coaches aren’t waiting on news from players who might be carrying an injury and as a result could suffer an adverse reaction on Friday morning, following Thursday’s evening training session.
And with an early announcement, thoughts invariably switch to the game on Saturday and away from other topics that might have been dominating the discussion board in the day’s leading up to the release of the match day squad.
Or might not, as the case may be.
And it has been eerily quiet this week.
Just 4 weekends left to the end of the season and with all that has been happening, frankly you’d have thought all was well at the Butts Park Arena.
The release of most of the current squad and coaches, the announcement of a new Head Coach, some discussion as to whether all the players believed to be re-signing next season will indeed be doing so, speculation as to who might be heading this way in the close season, potential changes that the new management structure might make – there’s endless possibilities for discussion.
But there’s nothing happening of note.
So the news that there are three changes to the Coventry team to play Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday gives everyone an opportunity to concentrate on the rugby side of things rather than continued contemplation the possible effects of all the developments currently taking place.
There are no real surprises in the team selected to play Darlington on Saturday because I don’t think there are any surprises left to make. I’m not sure who else could come into the match day squad who is currently available, other than DRs. With little to play for and enough of the squad available to play, I don’t think it’s of much benefit to the club to have to have DRs still playing.
George Tresidder is the obvious exception because, other than Wayne Evans, who is probably unavailable due to the back strain he picked up last week, we have no recognised scrum halves. Were George forced out of the game, I imagine Caolan Ryan would deputise but if anything were then to happen to him…well, perhaps best not to ask.
So ignoring DRs, who is still around? Off the top of my head…
- Daniel Carpo – injured? Or no longer required..? (This is where some updates from the club would be helpful)
- Chad Thorne – injured?
- Jacques Le Roux – injured
- Gaston Mieres – injured (such a shame we didn’t get to see more of Gaston)
- Cliffie Hodgson – injured
- Adam Parkins – don’t get me started
- Sam Smith – unable to play because contracted to Broadstreet until the end of the season
- Loti Molitika – available but with Pailor, Oliver and Woodburn playing well as a unit, then unfortunately Loti misses out. A shame for Loti because he’s always done well when he’s been called upon.
Apologies If I’ve missed anyone out, but the point would still be the same if I have – there are very few outside of the current match day squad who are even available for selection on Saturday, so Scott’s hands are tied. If he’d like to spring the odd change, he’s just not able to.
So the team for Saturday remains pretty much as expected, with young Joe Foreman being given a welcome chance to start. Joe performed admirably when called up in January; certainly well enough to persuade Rowland Winter into offering him a contract next season. I look forward to watching him again against a Darlington scrum that certainly wasn’t dominant against Cov when we played them before Christmas.
Tom Poole remains on the bench which is a talking point, although the line outs and scrums functioned well against Henley and Thomas and Wright both put in a good shift. Darlington will be a different proposition though and it remains to be seen just how effective they will be when defending against a team that won’t be inclined to run it quite as much as Henley did.
I don’t expect the game to be as open as it was a couple of weeks ago, something that Henley deserve a great deal of credit for. Irrespective of the fact that it was a Coventry win, as a match is was a great spectacle but I do think Saturday’s game will be won and lost upfront.
Tiploma Kivalu’s name isn’t being mentioned very often but I do believe he’s made a great deal of progress since he joined us as a late arrival back in October (?). He was a strong scrummager even then, but there were some concerns over his fitness. However, in the last couple of games he’s lasted the full 80 minutes and has carried the ball far more than any of the other props. He must have trained extremely hard and he’s beginning to look a really useful player. He’d make a welcome addition to many National 1 teams next season.
Matt Price’s return comes as little surprise. Devlin Hope had a run of two games so Matt was due a start and Devlin certainly didn’t help his cause with a needless yellow card last week. I hope he gets another opportunity before the end of the season, perhaps for the final home game where he can say his goodbyes to those many supporters who have appreciated his efforts on the pitch and who have felt he has been unlucky not to get a little more game time, even with Matt Price having such a strong season.
On the wing, even though Ryan Hough scored two tries against Henley, I’m pleased Peter Weightman has another chance out on the wing on Saturday. I thought he looked really promising back in August and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. Ryan must be disappointed, and rightly so, but Weightman gets my votes as he does seem to have that little bit extra about him. Tough call though, Ryan H did look sharp last weekend.
Darlington are clearly a different proposition to Henley Hawks, and we struggled to make the game safe against them at times. They’ve won 6 more games than us this season, although they have the same number of bonus points as us and have scored less than 50 more points, despite their win ratio. Whereas we’ve lost many of the close games we’ve been involved in, Darlington have come out on top in theirs (which was the case against us up in Darlington earlier in the season).
With home advantage and a crowd that’s noisy and partisan , we could get something out of the game. However, from the 14th November Darlington have played 17 and lost just 2 which is promotion form and had it not been for such a poor start to the season, they would be up there challenging Hartpury and Ampthill.
|6||Darlington Mowden Park||26||17||0||9||663||551||14||82|
It’s going to be really tough for Cov, but with Fylde just one point ahead of us, the incentive of a 9th placed finish is the target to be aiming for between now and the final game against Wharfedale.
One final note…we have a lot to learn from many of the clubs in our league. Take for instance the way other clubs announce their match day squads. Here’s Darlington’s :
No need to say anything else other than it’s far more interesting than the way we do it.
It speaks for itself…well done DMP…
…although the music leaves a lot to be desired!
The winds of change might be beginning to blow elsewhere, but right now supporters still seem to be very much in the doldrums.
Oh, how I hope that, come September, there will be someone working within the club who can produce a Coventry ‘blog’ on the official website, more factual and far less opinionated than this and with posts every couple of days or so, written by someone in the know and offering an insight into what is happening in and around Coventry RFC.
It could be directed at the supporters (young and old), focussing on all things Cov, perhaps with interviews on, and features about, players, coaches and staff with photo shoots from behind the scenes on training days and match days or just from within the office, bar or kitchens. I’d find something like that really interesting.
For someone who is working from within the club, perhaps one of the interns supervised by the person with responsibility for media coverage, it wouldn’t be too onerous and would certainly get supporters regularly logging on to the website for news, rather than going directly to the unofficial messageboard to see if there’s anything coming second or third hand from supporters.
Supporters would be so much better served by some sort of ‘digital diary’ and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to read someone else’s thoughts rather than writing about my own, especially someone with access to everyone connected with the club. A cup of coffee and a few minutes reading about Cov every couple of days…heaven. Even something along the lines of Rosslyn Park’s hugely informative ‘Park News’ would be a huge step forward – (http://rosslynpark.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Parknews29.pdf).
Something just to keep everyone interested when there isn’t much other Cov news available.
It could even be interactive, with opportunities for supporters to ask questions or post their own match day photos or reviews of the game even.
Anyway, that’s something for the future…
It’s all about the build up to Darlington now.