Club talk

We can be heroes, just for one day….

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But the days still seem the same

David Bowie – Changes

Jersey Reds.

Championship side v National 1 side with aspirations of playing in the tier above.

It might not be Goliath, with home advantage, against David…

…but it’s not far off.

Coming as it does so early in the pre-season,  whatever the result, i’m not sure  to what extent a win could be seen as a true measure of the progress we’ve made, given this is the first competitive game of the season for either side. A reflection of potential, certainly – but first games of the pre-season can be very fickle things…remember Cardiff last season?

Rather like the Broadstreet game on Tuesday, today’s game is more about the performance than the result. The result dictate just how successful the game is  from the first week in September onwards – for now, there’s a different set of criteria by which to determine  the success of the Coventry performances in the run up to the start of the league programme.

Don’t get me wrong, should we win (and I certainly wouldn’t rule that out),  then it won’t be ‘Changes’ but ‘Heroes’ that will appearing on the top of tomorrow’s post:

We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day.

Like it or not though, ‘Changes’ is a song that mirrors to some extent Coventry’s last few seasons. And even prior to that, probably.

Cov have flattered to deceive, with each successive year comes the promise of something bigger, something better. Coventry have yet to make waves in National 1.

Just ripples:

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream

Some seasons those ripples are bigger than others, in 2013/14 and 2014/15 for instance, but in others they are barely noticeable…last season we struggled to disturb the waters at all. We never leave the stream…nor have we really looked close to doing so, other than for a few games in December 2014.

If we are to leave this stream that is National 1 and flow into the river, that leads on to the sea, then we can no longer afford to just float and hope the currents take us in the right direction.

Currents also pull you down and that was certainly a danger for a few weeks last season.

All a bit lyrical I know, but the message is a clear one.

Games like today’s are important because they throw down a challenge both to the team and to the players – prove yourselves.

Put on the Cov shirt, pump out the chest and go to battle…there’s nothing to lose, but there’s everything to gain. You have the opportunity to come out of the game stronger, knowing more about each other and confident that when it comes to the first league game in September, you are a group of players who know you have the ability, the passion and the confidence to take on any team in National 1…because you’ve proved it against Championship sides.

There’s every likelihood that the game will be fairly attritional at times, with Jersey perhaps having a little more physicality than Cov – at least that might be one of the differences you’d expect between teams from different leagues. The Championship side should have the edge.

However, Coventry have worked exceptionally hard in training and there will certainly be no shortage of physicality from Cov. There are some very seasoned players in the match day squad, especially in the forwards. If we can match Jersey Reds in the set pieces and the defence proves resilient, I can’t help but feel we might have the edge if we can retain possession.

Provided we get enough of it, of course,

Against ‘Street, we saw for the first time the attacking game plan that the Rowland Winter has been preaching since day 1. There are players in the Coventry team who can and will exploit any spaces that his non-stop, fluid rugby will inevitably create, so I don’t rule out Coventry causing more than a few problems to the Championship side, especially when they are also playing their first game of the season and experimenting a little with their squad as well.

When I went to watch a training session at The Butts a couple of weeks ago, the forwards were doing some work on defending at the line-out, particularly close to our line, because the coaches had highlighted this as something Jersey are particularly strong at. It is clear that even for a friendly, Coventry have been doing their homework – although I’m sure it helps having several senior ex-Championship players in the coaching set-up. But the points is, Coventry are not going into this game to be anything other than competitive…friendly it might be, but I’m sure they’ll want to send out a clear message to the other National 1 teams.

Coventry will need to take their chances when they can because Jersey will doubtless have theirs too.

But for all the flowing rugby that hopefully we’ll witness this afternoon, I also want to see Cov under some pressure – if only to see how the team reacts.

I don’t mind Jersey Reds having spells where they dominate and have more of the possession because there will be times during the coming National campaign when other teams in National 1 will have similar periods when they control the play too. The test will be how we respond…no one wants players to put their bodies on the line at this stage of the season, but if Jersey Reds start to bully us around the pitch a bit, who are the players who’ll step up?

Take Matt Price – the one thing you know you’re going to get from Matt Price is pride and passion, not just in his own performance, but also in the club’s as well. It doesn’t always seem to come naturally to every player, at least it doesn’t seem to from the comfort of the stand (!), but you know with Matt that when things get a bit tough and feisty, that’s exactly what you’ll get back from him. It’s not always as controlled as it should be (!), but it’s always there.

It’s that CovDog thing again…you either have it, or you don’t. You don’t need everyone to show it, but you do need players who can turn it on when it’s needed…in Tony Gulliver we have someone who knows all about it, as did Dave Addleton before him. Who amongst this summer’s recruits will be similar in character?

I’m really excited about the prospect of seeing this group of players together on the pitch for the first time. I’m trying to rein it in a little because of the quality of the opposition, but in deciding on the friendlies, I guess the gauntlet was deliberately thrown down early on – you’ve had 5 or so weeks together, you’ve trained well and now it’s time for your first big test – so who’s up for it?

Jersey is a beautiful island and the people seem friendly and welcoming.

But I didn’t come here for the scenery and the hospitality.

No, I came here this weekend because I wanted to see what I hope might be the beginning of  a Coventry renaissance. It’s very early days yet, but from what we’ve heard and seen so far suggest this isn’t Coventry making just another ripple that will begin strongly, only to fade quickly into the waters around it.

No, I believe Cov are intent on rocking a few boats along the way as they plough through the calmer waters of National 1 towards the faster flowing river that is the Championship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand that there’s usually full commentary on Jersey’s home games on BBC Radio Jersey, so I don’t intend to use Twitter much during the game, other than for score updates. However, if BBC Jersey doesn’t apply this to pre-season games, please do let me know and I’ll provide some more regular updates…

T minus 7 hours and counting…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And remember:

We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day.

And this is Bowie at his coolest…I’ve watched it 5 times this evening alone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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