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
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…