On the tenth day of Christmas…

Just the top three places in Coventry’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award 2016 left to reveal…and there are some pretty big names missing from the from the 9 places already decided. No mention, as yet, of Messrs. Wheatcroft, Boulton, Grace, Dyer, Fenner, MacBurnie, Rundle, Litchfield, Stokes, Poole, Conquest, Trimble, Hircock, Snyman, Bone, Povoas….

Whatever the outcome over the remaining three days, there are going to be some surprise absentees.

So just who did you voted for on day 10…?


…the lords they really are a-leaping today because in 3rd place, you voted for:

Darrel Dyer.

It’s no surprise that Darrel Dyer features in the top three to me.

None at all.

Image result for darrel dyerIn everyone of of the ‘Man of the Match’ polls that has been conducted as part of this blog over the first half of the season, Darrel has always appeared in the top three players nominated by supporters in all but one (other than against Old Albanian in which he didn’t play).

If there were to be an award for the most consistent performer over the course of the season so far, then Darrel would certainly get my vote.

He’s had to be something of a utility forward at times, playing everywhere in the from 4-8 and wherever he has played, he’s always given an excellent account of himself. I think he took a few games to settle into the team and, if anything, his performances have been better over the last 8 games than those of the first.

One of the problems he has faced is that he has been asked to play No 8 because, until the recruitment of loanee Freddie Tuilagi’,  No 8 has been a problem position with both Ali Bone and Olly Povoas both suffering injuries or a loss of form.

From his interview with John Wilkinson, it would appear that perhaps Darrel feels most comfortable at 6. If Cov can remain fairly injury free and with Freddie, hopefully, playing more frequently after Christmas, Darrel can get more of an extended run at 6.

“I’m enjoying where I am at the moment at No.8, but if I was to play regularly at 6 I think I would be just as happy, to be honest. Wherever the coach sees me as best for the team, I’m happy – within reason!”

In defence or in attack, Darrel’s work rate is immense and because he is constantly in the game, putting in crunching tackles or making valuable yards, he is someone who gets himself noticed. And for Cov supporters, that willingness to put your body on the line, to get stuck in especially when the going gets tough, well that’s always going to impress.

Image result for darrel dyerAs you’d expect from someone who wants to play blindside, Darrel has good pace and is able to use it to get to the breakdown in order to try and secure our ball or slow down opposition ball if possible; he is very effective in holding up the attack, giving time for others to arrive in support. Darrel is also very useful in the line-out and is often used as a receiver in addition to the two second rowers.

And because of his basic speed, allied with his strength, Darrel seems to enjoy joining the back line as an extra man during open play…something he has in common with the likes of Tom Jubb and Scott Tolmie.

Darrel has played out on the wing at previous clubs so it’s not surprising that he likes to get amongst the backs every now and again. This natural instinct on the part of Darrel, Tom and Scott to attack is probably something that very much appealed to the coaches when deciding who to bring in to the club over the close season.

He’s certainly not a player whose head would drop when things get tough which is probably why he’s appeared in 15 of the 16 games so far this season, starting in 10 of them:

National One 16/17 Coventry Season appearances

Players Total Start CO Sub Off Points
Scott Tolmie 16 12 4 4 9 20
Philip Boulton 15 11 4 3 7
Darrell Dyer 15 10 5 5 2 15

Had the combination of the 6 back row forwards worked as effectively as that of the front row, then I imagine Rowland Winter might have been able to rotate a little more, but the fact that we have had to make use of the highly rated Jack Willis and Freddie Tuilagi suggests that perhaps there have been concerns about the way in which some of the players within that sextet are progressing.  As a result, Darrel has found himself out of position on occasions and with perhaps some additional responsibility in the back row, given that he has been one of the senior players out there at times.

Darrel actually had a loan spell at Coventry in 2011-12 and  have to say I felt somewhat embarrassed that I couldn’t recall him being here at all. However, it appears that whilst here he didn’t actually get to make an appearance, so I don’t feel quite so bad now I know that!

I was first aware of him last season when he was at Ampthill. He was yet another of this current squad who had stand out performances against us last season (as Tom Jubb and Rob Conquest did for DMP over at theirs in December 2015). In all,  Darrel played 79 times for Ampthill and was with Bedford and Northampton before that.

He is also another play with an ambition to play at the highest level:

I would say the majority of the boys here want to go into the Premiership – and for me, it’s still chasing the dream, that’s where I want to be…but it’s one step at a time and I’m happy to be here building towards the future.

If a really good opportunity came from somewhere else which I thought would enhance my rugby and development, I’d seriously consider that, but for now I’ll be training and working hard to take a few steps forward with Coventry and going back into the Championship with them would be a good scenario.

With a number of players expressing similar sentiments in their chats to John Wilkinson on the official website, the incentive of coming to Cov as part of their own personal career progression is understandably a bigger one than simply returning Coventry to a level of rugby closer to the one to which it really belongs (as far as supporters are concerned, anyway!). Sometimes as supporters we forget the priorities of the players…

For me, Darrel’s attacking play is what makes him such a great player to watch and Paul Smith, writing in the Coventry Telegraph, described Darrel’s try in only the third game of the season  against Macclesfield as a contender for try of the season, even at such an early stage of the National 1 campaign. Paul described it as follows:

Full back James Stokes broke along the right touchline from his own 22 before Corey Hircock and Daynes provided the in-out support, pace and neat hands that continued the move and ultimately gave tall No.6 Dyer an easy run to the posts. A quite superb team try…

Darrel has certainly made a really strong start to his time at Coventry, both on and off the pitch, something that those who voted in this MVP poll certainly recognised.

Well done, Darrel.

Who’s to say it won’t be a couple of places higher next season, eh?


Following on from a point I mentioned earlier in this post, as supporters I guess we have to accept that whilst we remain in National 1, for many players coming here to ply their trade, we are going to be another rung in the ladder up to the Championship and beyond. If we are able to attract players with the potential to play in the higher tiers then I’m ok with that, provided Cov benefit, too. I’m sure the same is true of the coaches as well.

Eventually though, we do need to be attracting the Darrel Dyers of the rugby world with the intention of them want to stay here for the long haul but I guess that comes with promotion and making ourselves a top team in the Championship, something Jon Sharp has already professed that he wants to do.

In the meantime, we just have to be thankful that we have coaches who can attract the likes of Darrel Dyer and a club with the potential to give them what they want in terms of their own career progression, as well supporters who appreciate what they bring to the club.




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