Tue. May 11th, 2021
Billy Ocean’s backing vocals…see below!

I’m gonna get myself ‘cross the river
That’s the price I’m willing to pay
I’m gonna make you stand and deliver

When the going gets tough
The tough get going
When the going gets rough
The tough get rough

Billy Ocean – When The Going Gets Tough

I think we’re past the point of lessons we can learn from. That just wasn’t good enough, we didn’t have enough quality in our team to execute what we wanted to do.

Coventry’s Director of Rugby, it seems, is about to make his players stand and deliver…

Strong words from Rowland Winter, and ones that will probably seal the fate of a number of current first team players.

If lessons aren’t being learned, then how can the team possibly move on to the next level with the same squad?

And if players are being carried, as was suggested last week and it is more than just a one-off, then the writing is very much on the wall.

And as RW has intimated elsewhere, there just aren’t enough experienced players of sufficient quality in the squad who have both the experience and the composure to see a game like Saturday’s through to a successful conclusion…

…when the going got tough, the tough just weren’t there to get rough, so-to-speak.

I’m sure RW’s comments are borne partly of frustration, having just watched his side throw away a 12 point lead in little over 5 minutes, having looked as if they were at one point in cruise control. Cov ended up a side well-beaten and barely able to compete. Hard to watch from the sidelines.

However, for the second week running he has expressed similar thoughts and it is clear that his patience, and that of his coaches, has been sorely tested.

If we are building a squad designed to be competitive at this level, one that ultimately will be good enough to win promotion, then part of that building process involves bringing in new players to strengthen it, as and when required. No one has said we are working on a one in, one out rule, but with finances always stretched, the size of the squad isn’t going to increase greatly, so that really only leaves one conclusion.

We’ve already lost Snyman and Conquest from the current squad and arguably, you could also include Boris and Brendan Burke in the list of those whom we know already won’t be a part of the next season’s squad, given their contribution has been so limited this season.

There must be some players who are playing for their places now and others for whom it might well be too late. And I’ll hazard a guess that older, more experienced players come at a cost in excess of those who have yet to prove themselves at this level and above.  One in, two out perhaps?

As in any sport at the higher levels, only the strong survive – or perhaps more accurately only those with the necessary qualities. I don’t think anyone who has watched Coventry this season fairly regularly would suggest that there hasn’t been some progress from last season, but the fact remains that Coventry are not yet equipped to compete consistently with the best teams, particularly  away from home and without all the advantages that come with the best attended club in the league.

As RW says in his post-match interview with John Wilkinson, the team’ imploded’ after 60 minutes. And implode they did. Instead of controlling a game in which they had eked out a reasonably comfortable lead after what was a disappointing start, they contrived to hand the initiative to Fylde first with a yellow card and then with some woeful defending.

With their tails up, Fylde proved unstoppable for a Cov side that suddenly seemed disjointed and susceptible every time Fylde ran the ball at them. Confidence was shot and it became something of a procession with the home side scoring three tries between the 67th and 72 minutes. Quick ball, played out wide, was an invitation for their players to run at us from deep; holes seemed to open up where, before, spaces just hadn’t existed.

For me, though, there’s absolutely no point in getting annoyed or angry over defeats, or indeed performances, like the one we witnessed yesterday.

I bought into the bigger picture a while back; Project Cov is one that is going to be three or more years in the making and there will be plenty of games that are lost that should have been won whilst the team is rebuilding. No one expected that this squad would be the one that would see us into the Championship, so it’s not surprising that the coaching and support structures have been embedded well before the squad is sufficiently strong to compete for promotion.

Indeed, this year and perhaps even next, would Coventry be in a strong enough position to be competitive in the Championship, off the field as much as on?

Presuming we are promoted at some point, it would be foolhardy to start in Tier 2 without a squad sufficiently strong enough to maintain a place in the Championship. That’s not going to come cheap, even with the RFU’s £575,000 handout, so that means ensuring the business model is a good deal more robust than it is at present. Until The Butts has been developed enough to secure the additional income needed for Championship rugby, or until the club has the finances from elsewhere to support it, I’ll be happy to see us progress on the pitch steadily over the next couple of seasons.

Me, I’d rather be solvent in National One than a Jersey, say, or even worse, a London Welsh, in the Championship.

Is that a lack of ambition on my part? Well, obviously, I’d argue no, but that isn’t necessarily how others might see it.

Having watched Coventry implode on two occasions off the field over the last 20 years and just hours away from the RFU removing us from Tier 2 of national rugby altogether, I can cope with the odd implosion on the field if I think the club is moving in the right direction.

Which I do.

The trip up to Fylde has probably made me realise just how fortunate we are to be in what appears a far healthier position than many teams in National 1.

In their Newsletter, the newly appointed Chairman of the Fylde writes of the ‘need to harness the expertise, experience and enthusiasm of all our members’ and that

as a matter of priority, we have begun a review of the Club’s finances and the results will be reported to members in February /March 2017.

That sounds a little worrying to me…with the end of the financial year just a couple of months away, the fact that a review is taking place immediately is a little strange – but whatever the reason, it is yet another reminder of the constant struggle all clubs face to ensure some sort of financial stability.

When he accepted the role back in November, Dave Young said that his priority would be to concentrate on the club’s involvement in junior rugby as, ‘I think we’ve got the senior rugby very much sorted out.’

That suggests  the Board accepts that for the time being it’s happy to compete in National One. There’s no mention of long term goals, of looking to push on to the next level or  look for promotion into the Championship.

The club sensibly seems to be taking the pragmatic approach, one that says for the time being the Championship lies beyond its reach. It’s a club happy to live within its means and very comfortable with staying where it is, whilst developing its community links through its junior sections, with it’s senior team ‘very much sorted out’.

And rightly so. It’s a great set up there and the new Chairman, who made a staggering 468 first team appearances for Fylde as a player, knows the club better than most.

I wish Fylde well.

In Jon Sharp, we have a chairman who, over the last 6 years or so, has established a degree of financial stability. The club now has a platform on which to build.

With the biggest attendances in the league and a business plan that is focused on not only increasing the club’s income, but also ploughing back profits into developing the rugby side of the venture, Cov supporters have far more to be happy about than most.

It’s far too early to tell how successful the recent wholesale changes at Cov will prove to be, but equally it is far too early to be writing off what has so far been achieved. The club’s away form has been dire, but equally, performances at home against the likes of Plymouth, Moseley and even Hartpury RFC (!) have shown just what can be achieved. Yes it was a pretty poor result on Saturday, well worthy of the criticism that’s been levelled at the team by both the coaches and some supporters.

But context is everything for me at the moment and things are looking far brighter than they were 12 months ago, with the next 12 months offering a great deal more in the way interest and excitement. When expectations are high, disappointments always seem worse than perhaps they really are. Rowland Winter isn’t someone who is going to accept anything but the best from his players and from what he has said over the past couple of weeks, there’ll be some entrances and exits over the coming weeks.

If the quality isn’t there, he’ll make sure he brings it in – a clear message for the current squad that he’s lost patience with those who haven’t yet  learned the lessons from previous games.

If players won’t stand and deliver, then they’ll get left behind…

When the going gets rough
The tough get rough
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Ooooh baby


Billy Ocean with Danny DeVito et al. on backing vocals…

…and as the going gets tough, it’s time to get our your glitter ball, don your boob tube and flares, and strut your funky stuff…



By Tim

13 thought on “When the going gets tough…”
  1. The faithful ones won’t fir sure, Mick, But you’re right, there are those who are still undecided about the changes happening at the BPA at the moment and unless results improve away from home, we will lose supporters who are attracted by the whole match day package that Wasps offer. I think Jon Sharp is full aware that RW is building something here and that he’s never suggested this will be a quick fix, the opposite in fact. Supporters will be impatient if things don’t improve in terms of results, but most seem to recognise that as far as the journey to the Championship is concerned, we’re not very far along the line…

  2. Yes, no answer to that really…we’ve capitulated on a few occasions and just don’t seem to have had either the fight or the experience to stem the tide – hopefully, that’s where bringing in players who are well seasoned might complement the present crop of talented younger players. To be honest, next week is going to be really tough. Plymouth are hardly the sort of team you want to come up against after last week!

  3. I think what is really disappointing is not so much loosing the away games it is the manner of how we lose. Some of the performances have been absolutely shocking. The whole thing falls apart so quickly and we are like rabbits in head lights.
    Still always next week.

  4. You’re right Tim regarding the ‘bigger picture’ coming into play now, which alludes to my comment about the honeymoon period being over.
    We now need some performances to build on for next season and a clear idea of what positions need strengthening. Here’s hoping…

  5. Just re-read my posting I meant to put “Now I am NOT advocating to get rid of Rowland Winter. Sorry for the confusion that has caused.

  6. Have to agree that results on the pitch are the one area of change this season that hasnt been as impressive as I’d hoped. But it’s about the long term and hopefully RW will have the support of the Board for a good while yet to enable him to develop what is a young side. As for the door being slammed shut…we just have to hope the club’s in the lower leagues can out a foot in the door long enough for Cov to make its escape….

  7. Hi Rob…with hand on heart I can. Only 1 defeat at home, plenty of attacking rugby, a team that has come back from seemingly hopeless situations, improved crowds, better communication, a DoR that sdoes what he says and makes tough decisions. Away form has been dire I accept but at no point has the club said anything other than this season would be about consolidation…which is what’s happened. The infrastructure is in place, a squad starting to come together with some ins and outs. I’m more than okay with things at the moment because the bigger picture comes into play now, not just results which have been the biggest disappointment, but even then not a massive one by any means. Far better than last season certainly…12 wins with 9 to play against 13 in total under Scott Morgan last year. Progress…it might not get a ten from Tim but a definite 6 or 7

  8. Interesting thoughts Tim.
    I confess my frustrations got the better of me some years ago and I seldom travel to away games these days. As someone who has kept the faith and sees almost twice as many Cov matches than me, can you honestly say that you have seen any progress on the pitch this season?
    Maybe the stats will show otherwise but for me there is a sense of deja vu in our performances this year, the deficiencies in defence, handling and lineouts being startlingly similar.
    I’m not that worried about promotion, I just want to see a team take the pitch and play their hearts out for our great club, with a bit of skill and flair thrown in for good measure.
    The honeymoon period would now appear to be over in terms of us having a new coach, new squad etc. They’ve had time to gel but it’s just not happening and one wonders where we go from here…once again.

  9. With our big fish cousins across the city of Coventry, CRFC are considered as small fry. That is hard for I to write being a true “Blue and White”. Our club is growing off the field. Yes but what attracts fans to the games ? A successful team/squad. How long do D.O.R./coaches get ? Some do not get long enough or the budget to achieve success. Now I am advocating to get rid of Rowland Winter. But just giving the point of what happens in sport. The sad fact in today’s/current thinking if can not achieve success out you go. I think RW has set up a very good backroom and has proved himself to be capable of carrying out tough decisions (two coaches and two players departed) It will be very interesting to see what squad we/COV have next season. But I hope the faithful fans do not turn to the BUZZ that is happening over the other side of the city.

  10. Hi Tim

    Obviously i was not there on Saturday, but it sounds like a very depressing second half performance.
    I too have bought into project Coventry, my only concern is that on the pitch we do not seem to be moving forward at the pace that most of us expected, i certainly did not expect us to be Top 2 this year, but it does seem we are heading for mid table mediocrity, which in my opinion is simply not good enough.
    The other elephant in the room (no pun intended) is the fact that we may not have three years to build a Championship side, that door may well and truly be shut by then.

  11. Me, I’d rather be solvent in National One than a Jersey, say, or even worse, a London Welsh, in the Championship.

    Totally agree.

Any thoughts:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.