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.
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.