I have to admit that when I first saw the list of pre-season friendlies, there was a part of me that was just a little bit disappointed with the final triple-header. Not for long, I should add, but I certainly wasn’t as excited about this weekend as I was about the others.
This is going to sound a little patronising, and it really isn’t meant to be, but after such strong opposition as Jersey Reds, Ealing Trailfinders and Newport, two 60 minutes games against Colchester and Bury St Edmunds didn’t really fill me with a great deal of excitement at the time.
I even had to check which league Colchester were in, which is something that I probably shouldn’t be owning up to, but I doubt I’m alone in that. And, to save anyone else the ignominy of having to look it up, it’s National League 3: London and South East Division.
At the time the fixtures were published, it did seem a little odd. Having previously faced strong opposition in the form of two Championship sides and one from the Welsh Premier League, the drop in the strength of opposition seemed a strange one immediately prior to the opening National 1 game.
But the closer it gets, the more sensible it seems.
And the more excited I’ve become.
Rowland Winter doesn’t tend to make decisions on a whim and when compiling the list of pre-season games, he and the coaches will have worked out what they feel is the best build up to the Loughborough Students game in just 8 days time.
We know from what RW said at the Members’ Forum that Bury St Edmunds play a game not too dissimilar to that of Loughborough, and given that he’ll know the club well from his 3 years with Cambridge in National 2 South, that fixture now makes good sense.
Colchester, then, should presumably offer the selectors a final chance to look at those players who are currently close to a place in the side to play Loughborough, whilst again experimenting with combinations of players to ensure that all options are covered.
A few last minute adjustments and a bit of fine tuning.
Neither game should involve the physicality of the previous three, so in that sense dropping down of a league or two for this final game means it’s less likely that players will pick up injuries that could disrupt all the work that has been done over the last few weeks…or at least that’s one theory.
Both games should give the two Cov teams the chance to play the expansive, attacking rugby that we have seen in patches in all the previous games and one would expect there to be rather more opportunities for the players be creative with ball in hand. A good performance and hopefully another couple of wins under the belt and the squad can move into the beginnings of the league season with a good deal of confidence.
This will probably jinx everything, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to see all four games so far and there hasn’t been a poor performance amongst them. There have been spells in each game where our frailties have been exposed, but equally there have been long periods in each game where we’ve either matched or dominated the opposition, opposition which in the last three games has been on paper probably stronger than Cov.
So far the coaches must be pleased with the ways things are progressing, but the real proof of just how effective the pre-season has been will come in the open 3 or 4 league fixtures.
But in assessing the success or otherwise of the last few weeks, I think you also need to also include all that has been happening to promote the belief amongst supporters that this really is ‘Your City…Your Club’.
The one won’t function as effectively without the other.
There’s been lots of interest in what’s been happening at the BPA since Roland Winter and his team took over in May, with many positives to take away from these 4 months or so.
We’ve seen, to list but a few:
- excellent attendances at two members’ forums;
- the setting up of the Coventry Rugby Supporters’ club and a lot of preliminary interest from supporters wanting to join up;
- decent crowds at The Butts to watch Cov play Ealing and Newport; much improved communication between the club and it’s supporters;
- some great media coverage through John Wilkinson’s input from within and the likes of Paul Smith at the Coventry Telegraph from without;
- a general acceptance amongst supporters that what we are seeing take place at the club, despite some difficult decisions having to be made, is in fact long overdue.
To look at the pre-season just in terms of results and the changes that have been taking place on the coaching and support fronts would be to deny another real positive that’s come out of all this – namely that we are far more united as a club than we were last season, with supporters in a ‘dialogue’ with coaches and players through all the channels of communication that have started to open up.
Brendon Snyman spoke on Tuesday about the importance the supporters play in the success of the club on the pitch and the difference the crowd can make when they get behind the team. And they’ll get behind them in greater numbers and even louder voices this season if they continue to be involved in the process of rebuilding.
So, in a rather long-winded and convoluted way, the point I’m trying to make is the pre-season has been far more successful than just the sum of its results. As a PR exercise in bringing the supporters on board, it has been extremely slick and Cov has avoided all the potential pitfalls that could have occurred under a completely new management team, bringing in a new squad and breaking away from established traditions. There’s lots of positives to be learned from the way it’s been handled…
There will always be the doubters, or those very loyal to the previous tenants – nothing wrong with that – but you have to work with those who are willing to embrace change and view it as preferable to possible stagnation. And it looks very much to me as if that’s what been happening, and to great effect too.
With the chance to see the whole squad in action over 2 hours of rugby and additional match to watch as well, any initial misgivings I might have had have long since disappeared to be replaced by that Friday feeling before any Cov game…
… a feeling of expectation and anticipation and always, always the hope that this is going to be the beginnings of something special.
Three into one won’t go…
…unless your a triple headed elephant, of course….
The launch of the Coventry Rugby Supporters’ Club begins in earnest on Saturday. A lot of information about just why supporters might consider joining is available on the Messageboard. Those on the Committee have worked extremely hard to get to where we are now are and hopefully, we’ll begin to see the fruits of their labours as supporters come on board.
As a reminder, there’s a link below to the flyer and application form that will be available at the ground tomorrow and at home games from thereon in. If you do wish to join (all the prices and benefits are contained on the front of the flyer), then please bear in mind that it is cash only this Saturday. The same applies to anyone wishing to pre-order their discounted travel to Moseley and/or ticket for the game.
It’s really exciting to see how what was just an idea muted by Cliff all those months ago has, in just a few weeks, turned into a reality.
With lots of benefits for members of the CRSC in the pipeline, and the prospect of real savings to those who travel to away games, it’s a very attractive package and there seems to be a lot of interest in it even at this very early stage. And of course the other benefit is that you’ll get to meet lots of new, and not so new, faces and enjoy the social side of the CRSC, especially if you intend to travel to away games.
There’s going to be a stall set up in the right hand corner of the Arena Bar as you enter from the changing rooms end (!) – it will be manned from 11.45 am to just before the first game and then at the intervals between games. Even if you’re unsure and want a bit more information, please pop along and say hello and find out a bit more about what the Supporters’ Club has to offer you…