Sun. Apr 18th, 2021

So, another three signings and a couple of retentions…

I’m not sure whether I’m reading too much into the announcement, presumably written by Rowland Winter, but the blurb alongside Cliffie reads:

comfortable at centre or fullback joined from Championship side Rotherham and has quickly scored over 1000 points in just short of 100 caps

Now it might be something and nothing, but the fact that he’s comfortable both at centre and full back but there’s no mention of fly half, which to me is a position that he’s more comfortable with than centre, is an interesting one.

Is it a deliberate omission in the sense that there will be other options available at fly half once the squad is announced that provide RW with better choices..? I’ve never felt that centre was Cliffie’s best position and with MacBurnie and Knox already here and others presumably to come, Cliffie might find it hard to hold down a starting spot in midfield…? Perhaps full back is where he’ll fit in initially?

At only 26, Cliffie has several good years of rugby ahead of him and will be reaching his peak in the next couple, provided he’s over his shoulder problem. His scoring record is exceptional and he’ll win games for Cov that they might otherwise lose, such is his ability with the boot. It’s a good signing for the club and I can’t believe that there weren’t other teams interested in him, ones probably prepared to make him a better offer. The fact that he’s shown loyalty to Cov will only endear him even more to supporters for whom he is already a much loved figure…

Tom Poole’s return is also a welcome one for me.

At times he’s not looked the player he was last season but hopefully he’ll blossom under the guidance of Rowland Winter and the tutelage of messrs. Snyman and Stankovich. I guess the hope is that their experience and expertise will be able to take players like Tom Poole to the next level. It’s probably the wrong time to be critical of the present coaching setup, particularly as it involves Aggy, but the new scrum and lineout specialists might be able something different to the forwards other than that which is available at the moment.

Although Tom Jubb didn’t play for Darlington against us a couple of weeks ago, he was Rob Conquest’s partner back in December when their lineout proved so dominant on the day. With three second rowers now in place (4 if you include Snyman who can play no 8 or second row) there looks to be options already there and I imagine there’ll be at least one more yet to come in.

Tom Jubb – The Rugby Paper (Feb 2013)

Jay Heath isn’t someone whose name I’ve heard mentioned before, but he’s clearly got some pedigree having been with Nottingham prior to joining us. The only thing I could find out about him was that he scored two tries for England Counties U20 against ‘an experienced Hungarian Barbarians line-up packed with internationals.’ – a game which England Counties won 90-24! (England Counties U20 v Hungary Barbarians – match report).

Things are definitely taking shape now and it shouldn’t be too long now before we know the make-up of the full squad. If the rumour of a surprise signing yet to be announced is correct, it could make for an interesting couple of weeks.

But still no news of the Members’ Forum…?


Fast on the heels of Plymouth Albion’s decision to go into receivership comes the somewhat more surprising news that the directors have decided to part company with Graham Dawe, made in part to:

enable them to start to put their plans in place to secure the future of Plymouth Albion and establish a firm financial structure which will enable it to thrive in the years ahead

An interesting move and one that probably many Plymouth supporters will be finding difficult to accept, given his standing within the club.

However, the directors would argue that you have to cut your cloth according to your means and Dawes must be too costly for them at present. Plymouth clearly aren’t done with him with the hint that he could return some time in the future:

The club needs people with the courage of Graham and his role in the future will unravel as progress is made

However, it’s the last paragraph of the statement released by Plymouth that interests me most:

In the short term Exeter Chiefs have offered the help of staff to support the existing coaching staff with the final two matches and the preparations for summer training and the pre-season arrangements

Is this the scenario many of us fear might happen with Wasps and ourselves?

Here’s a club with plenty still to offer, with decent facilities and a strong fan base – I bet Exeter didn’t have to be asked twice to get involved…just how much support will they be offering, I wonder? If Exeter’s coaching staff are to be made available, how many DRs or loanees will be making the 45 mile trip as well? Is this the beginnings of a move to turn Plymouth into what becomes in effect an Exeter 2nd XV?

If Exeter’s involvement ensures that Plymouth can survive in the long term, then it is obviously to be applauded, but the cynic in me just wonders how short term, ‘short term’ really is?

With so little rugby at a national level played in Devon and Cornwall, it is vital that Plymouth survives and remains autonomous and independent. However, Exeter might just be the lifeline that allows Plymouth to remain a top National 1 side, rather than one that ends up in freefall because it can no longer afford the players or the coaches to maintain National 1 rugby.

There certainly seems to be a feeling amongst Plymouth supporters that Graham Dawe has been poorly treated and that the club will struggle to attract quality players under the present arrangements. The new owners appear to have decided that they want to rebuild the team again, whilst also letting go of Dawes who has become something of a talisman for them.

 Love him or hate him, he is special.

I sincerely hope that Plymouth are able to be competitive next season and don’t have to rely to heavily on Exeter to support them beyond the pre-season friendlies…



The cancellation of the Coventry Rugby Awards’ Day does little to enhance the general feeling amongst many supporters that Coventry just haven’t quite got their PR right this season.

Whist the idea of an awards’ day is definitely a good one, to have it on the day after the Wharfedale game as a stand alone event definitely wasn’t.

I think the vast majority of supporters, certainly those who would have attended the event, feel that the club haven’t come out of the recent changes to personnel, from Scott Morgan down, without a great deal of credit. Scott Morgan’s own initial response was one that clearly suggested if not anger, then certainly annoyance and frustration, and the players too have expressed their own disappointment at the lack of communication, feeling left in the dark about much of what’s been happening.

The cancellation of the Awards’ Day is a further example of the club not capturing the mood of the occasion.

It should have been a celebration of the season and of individual players contributions to the team’s overall performance. However, the disappointing results along with so many players leaving, and leaving under circumstances which have left them feel somewhat disgruntled, mean  it was never going to be anything other than a muted affair.

To have it on the Sunday after the final game when many of the players will be seeing each other for the final time, seemed bizarre when it was announced – especially when the players were going to go stay over in Leeds on the Saturday to say their farewells. You’d have hoped that they would have been consulted beforehand…I’m not sure how many of them would have wanted to travel back early on Sunday morning following what presumably is going to be a ‘heavy’ evening. It’s kind of adding insult to injury really.

And the announcement of the cancellation itself is somewhat abrupt…CANCELLED in big red letters across the original flyer doesn’t look great – you might just as well have included underneath ‘due to lack of interest’ (more on the part of the players I guess). It looks as if the club have had to backtrack somewhat, especially as it comes with no explanation other than:

‘The Awards day scheduled for Sunday May 1st has now been cancelled! The awards will now take place post match in the Arena Bar after our last NL1 home this Saturday April 23rd. See you all there!

It’s a shame, because in most seasons it would have been seen as a very positive move on the part of the club. But if supporters were expressing their concerns about it’s viability pretty much as soon as it was announced, why didn’t the club anticipate something along those lines beforehand.

Still, it’s a lesson learned.

The compromise, holding the awards immediately after the last home game of the season, is the right decision and one that should have been made from the start…

However, things have improved somewhat during the season and the website is now being used as the mouthpiece for the club in a way it wasn’t before Christmas. From his comment to a previous post, I know Cliff B has been speaking to Jon Sharp and maybe the whole issue of communication between the club and its supporters is one that will be a major focus next season…

Always good to end on a positive.

By Tim

11 thought on “More signings, Plymouth and Exeter and the Awards’ Day”
  1. 100,000? Oh dear, perhaps I should have excercised greater discretion. I just hope at least 99, 999 of ’em will keep schtum.

  2. Thanks, Jeff…really appreciate that. It’s good when people do comment and they’re always really appreciated but they are just a happy consequence. It’s great when as today when there’s a dialogue between those reading the post…in a couple of weeks time I’ll finish the blog as come the end of the season there won’t be a great deal to write about.
    Looking forward to seeing Dan get a longer run out on Sat…!

  3. Cliff, good to hear you are ‘ establishing channels of communication ‘ between the club and the supporters. This is long since overdue. However, in your response to Phil you say ” please don’t speak too widely of what I’m doing etc..”. By putting a response on a blog that has been read by a 100, 000 people, I think it is already out there.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Yes tim this blog is a daily read for me ,and as an outsider gives a lot of information about the club past and present . I know people don’t always comment, because most of the time the blog does not need it .because what you write does not need comment.full of food for thought most days thanks.

  5. All positive stuff, really pleasing to hear that these things are open to discussion.

  6. Hi Phil
    Your comment has persuaded me to say more than I had intended, so here goes.
    One of the items (among a great many, I may say) which we discussed was the prospects and viability of a re-constitution of a Supporters’ Club (there used to be one back in the Coundon Road days, run by Mick Carter and Dianne Pell). There was much discussion, and there needs to be more, as to its purpose, objectives, relationship with the club, areas of remit, etc, etc. One of my suggestions is that it should be headed (if that doesn’t sound too formal) by a few individuals, perhaps three or four, who would effectively be a focus group liaising on a regular basis with the club to ensure, most particularly, that communication with supporters is wide ranging, unfettered, honest and regular.
    However, these are very early days and there is a great deal going on at the club. The good thing is that JS was, and is, very welcoming of my ideas and suggestions to the point that he asked me to attend a meeting at BPA.
    Please don’t speak widely of what I’m doing or of the club’s position in relation to them because, clearly there is a long way to go, much work to be done, much ground to be covered and, perhaps above all, a pre-requisite that the club is the instigator of anything which it does towards an improvement and enhancement of its marketing, communication, publicity and media use.
    Cheers, Cliff.

  7. I understand that RW is keen to set up supporters’ club which would meet a little more often that quarterly and be made up of a handful of interested supporters. More than that I don’t know, but like you I think some sort of working party, made up of supporters with one or two of the managerial/admin staff, might be able to identify areas of concern and hopeful suggest potential solutions. Feedback to the Messageboard would need to be an important part of the group’s remit…

  8. Great news Cliff and well done on following it all through…if there is willingness on the part of the club to listen to what supporters are saying, and I believe there is, then I’m sure further improvements can and will be made.
    Hopefully, you’ll be able to keep every one posted via the Messageboard – I’m sure there will be lots of interest as things start to happen…

  9. Regarding Cliff’s point about meeting with JS and the business manager, which i believe is a very positive move, do any of you believe that there would be any mileage in having a small “fans committee” or such like that could meet with the club on a quarterly basis to discuss any issues. Just something quite informal but with a newsletter following to say what was discussed being released on the website.
    Just a thought.

  10. Hi Tim

    Just as an aside, can I say that reading your blog has become a daily essential, so well done you.

    As far as the Awards Day is concerned, I found it extremely puzzling that the announcement uses the word “cancelled”, because that’s a pretty pejorative word to use, most particularly since it hasn’t been cancelled at all, it’s simply been re-scheduled to a different date. There’s a great deal about the standard of publicity coming out of the club which would benefit from a considerable improvement. Talking of which………..
    Yes, I am in contact (I’ve been to BPA and had a meeting) with Jon and the Business Manager. More than that, it would probably be wrong for me to say, but the reception I was given was warm and generous, to the point where, I believe, we should see improvements and a more strategic shift towards all that supporters would expect from the club.

Any thoughts:

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