One of the most heartening things to result from the appointment of Rowland Winter at the BPA, outside of purely rugby matters, is the near total transformation in the way the club now interacts with its supporters.
Last night’s training session is an excellent example – not only are supporters encouraged to pop along, when they do they are always made welcome and provided with opportunities to chat to Rowland Winter and ask the questions that they’ve always wanted to ask, but have never had the opportunity to do so, other than at an annual members’ forum…presuming they are members, of course.
It might well have been that training sessions were open to supporters last season but if it that was the case, then it certainly wasn’t publicised.
The impact of RW’s arrival has also resulted in an opening up of existing channels of communication to such an extent that supporters are now kept fully informed of what is happening on the playing front, almost on a daily basis. Last year it was completely different, even to the extent of supporters not being provided with details of the team until the Saturday morning of a game. It caused anger and resentment and did little to endear supporters to the management of the club.
I don’t think it was a deliberate attempt on the part of the club to ostracise supporters; it just didn’t get the importance of building partnership between itself and its fans.
The one believed it could function very well without the other, although we know that the reality was very different.
The appointment of John Wilkinson has already lessened the gap between the two considerably. Whilst those who remain loyal to the club will be aware of the changes and already be benefiting from them, it will probably take a decent winning run to bring back those supporters who voted with their feet last season, and in numbers, and have yet to return to the BPA.
But keep sending out the message and eventually they will take notice.
The website, once an object of some derision amongst supporters, is now the real voice of the club, something that wasn’t true last year when much so information came second or even third hand via word of mouth from posters on the Messageboard.
Take this week, for example…
…since the Fylde game, six days ago, we have seen on the club website:
- John Butler’s match report;
- JW’s interview with Rowland Winter following the game;
- A coach’s view – James Pritchard;
- Supporters’ Club News;
- An official welcome to Freddie Tuilaga;
- A results round up from the previous weekend,
- A review of the Plymouth game;
- An interview with Tom Poole about his reaction to receiving his 100th cap;
- Team news for Saturday, together with additional squad updates;
- News of Dan Rundle and Max Trimble’s one game loan to Nuneaton.
How good is that? The encouraging thing is that other forms of social media used by Cov, most notably the unofficial messageboard and Twitter, are also being used to promote what appears on the website, too. Last season, we would have seen the articles appear verbatim on the Messageboard for the simple reason that so many people had just given up on the official website. Now, however, there’s only ever just a link that directs you to the appropriate webpage on the official club website.
It means that Cov supporters have to go onto the website to access the articles and by doing so the club can then use the rest of the site to promote its other activities, although if I had one criticism it would be that this is something the club isn’t yet doing nearly as effectively as it will need to do. Doubtless it will happen…small steps and all that, but nevertheless it does mean that as far as supporters are concerned, we are getting far better access to information than we ever did before.
Whilst the website maybe isn’t yet being used to its full potential, Lara Hunter and whoever run(s) the Club’s official Twitter account seem to be spreading the Cov word via Twitter far more effectively, with video clips, images and information regularly being updated, often several times a day even during mid-week when you’d expect things to be quieter.
I know this was something that was being looked at before Rowland Winter’s arrival but he has very much been the catalyst to bring about much needed change. It is appreciated and whilst there is still much to be done, especially with the website, I do think most supporters are grateful for increasing amounts of information coming out of the BPA these days.
At least this supporter certainly is…
I was impressed with the sense of comradery that was very evident amongst the players at Cov’s final training session before the Plymouth game on Thursday. Whilst the training itself was undertaken in a very professional and focused way, in the moments between the various activities and particularly once the session was complete, there were plenty of smiles and convivial backslapping and a number of players stayed behind to have a kicking competition. We’re not talking about the Fenners and the Adamsons here, no this was the likes of Rob Conquest, Scott Tolmie et al, along with Will Maisey.
I have to say, both Tolmie and Conquest can hoof a ball, although to be fair to Scott, he does looks to have a bit more technique and if the shouts of delight from the far touchline were anything to go by, I rather think he beat Will in the final.
I was also impressed by Sam Smith, who stayed out training longer than anyone else. In a recent update about the Development Squad players, RW had said that Sam had opted to stay at Cov rather than be loaned out, preferring to train with the players throughout the week. I don’t know how he’s getting on, but his attitude yesterday seemed exemplary. There are a lot of other players battling for places in the centres and if Sam is lower down the pecking order than he would like at the moment, then it’s certainly not for the want of trying.
I’ve hardly made mention of today’s game in the post.
The reason…I’m trying not to get too excited, too soon.
We just haven’t performed against the better teams in the league up to now – okay, against Moseley and Hartpury we could have won both games going into the final ten minutes; but we still lost. Generally the performances haven’t been as we might have hoped. Plymouth offers another chance to redress that disappointment.
I’m really hoping to see a Cov performance that builds on last week’s very encouraging win against Fylde. We need to start putting some sort of run together if we are going to make a challenge on the top 3 or 4 in the league by Christmas, something this side is more than capable of achieving. I’m not sure how we’ll play the game today, will we be likely to run the ball quite as much as last week, or will we look just to play the ball into their territory and take whatever points are on offer? I think we’re better attacking the opposition and with players coming in who are going to shore up some of the defensive frailties, I’m very much for running at Plymouth.
I’d settle for a bit of both, though. Take the early points and if the opportunities arise, get the likes of Stokes, Howe, James and Hircock to capitalise on any gaps the forwards create to run the ball at them. Fylde have already beaten them 39-37 and shown Plymouth can be susceptible to high tempo rugby of the kind we can play.
The loanees from Wasps will be under pressure to perform as the did against Fylde, and I’m sure that there will be plenty of excitement in the main stand when Freddie Tuilaga makes his entrance on to the pitch.
A big crowd could be a decisive factor here, especially as many of the players have said at various times this season just how well they respond to the Coventry roar. If we can continue to do our bit and make the Butts an intimidating pace for the opposition to visit, then that in turn might help to take some of the pressure off the players.
I’m on @Cowshedtim.
If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me), all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end.
Up the Cov!