Squad size, squad news and squaddies…
I really appreciate the fact that as far as my support of Coventry Rugby Club is concerned, match days aren’t the only weekly focus any more.
Tuesday’s now have a particular significance, namely the day announcements regarding retention and recruitment for the 2017/18 season are released.
Some mid-week interest as well now.
Coventry Rugby Club…the gift that keeps on giving.
Last week it was new signings, this week it’s players retained.
I can see a pattern developing here.Back last August, Rowland Winter suggested that maybe as many as 80% of the current squad would be staying on, a figure he repeated recently, although he did add the rider that it would now be 80% of the squad remaining at the end of the season.
For the purposes of this post, I’m taking the squad that started the season to be 33 in total, which is a bit hit and miss given I’ve included Adam Canning but not Sam Smith as I’m not sure he had a playing contract, although Sam’s photo is in the squad list on the website.
A 20 % reduction of that original squad of 33 would leave us with 26 players once the season has ended, as was suggested at the beginning of the season.
However, now we know it is more likely to be 80% of those remaining, that figure will be obviously be reduced.
By my reckoning, for one reason or another, Cov have already lost 6 players from that squad list of 33:
although Stankovich and Burke will presumably be retained as coaches.
That takes us to approximately 27 players currently contracted to the first team, not including the dual reg players from Wasps and Leicester. I’m not sure what the position is regarding Josh Peters, so I’m counting him as a dr/loanee.
80% of those remaining, then, works out at 21, to the nearest whole
This is all very theoretical, but please bear with me.
If I’m close, then that would mean we are therefore likely to lose a further 6 players, in addition to those already mentioned.
Much as it grieves me to say it, based purely on the number of appearances made this season, I think it would be fair to suggest that the likes of Callum MacBurnie, Jay Heath, Adam Canning and Alex Smit are unlikely to feature in next season’s squad, although Adam might still be given the chance to prove himself as he continues his recovery.
That’s 4 of the 6 and there are another couple of players whom I’m aware of who are unlikely to be around next season, but until anything official is said, then it would be wrong to mention them by name.
There are also a couple of other players who haven’t really featured a great deal over the last few weeks, despite being fit and available so I think that figure of 6 will more likely turn out to be nearer 8 or 9, taking us down to perhaps as few as 19 of the squad remaining…or a 60% retention rate from last September.
That is certainly lower than perhaps was envisaged, but with the three coaches remaining currently aged 35, 36, and 37 respectively, realistically it would have been unlikely that the club would have had another season from them. That, together with Snyman’s departure which was something that was forced on them somewhat, brings the figure much nearer to 75% – not a million miles away from RW’s original prediction.
If we take 20 as being the number of retained players, then adding on the 7 or 8 players mentioned by John Wilkinson as the number of signings likely to be coming into the club, we would then have a ‘full’ squad of around 27 or 28.
Now that might seem low, but with the likes of MacBurnie, Heath, Canning and Smith seldom featuring this season, if at all, then that figure of, say, 28, would be very close to what we’ve had available for the last few weeks, months even. In informal conversations with supporters, RW has already said that next season we are likely to be continuing to enjoy the benefits of dual registered players from Premiership sides, so that easily takes us back into the 30s.
Still a fairly small squad, and one that wouldn’t cope too well with a couple of long term injuries that could strike at any time, ones that we have managed to avoid for the most this season – thanks in part to the fantastic work done by Rob Norman, Hannah Walker and their respective teams.
I imagine that come mid-September, and after a pre-season that will have given the coaches a good idea of where the squad will need to be strengthened, we might see a further 2 or 3 players join us, as was the case with Sam Grasso this season.
It might be that others have a completely different view of the numbers involved, but it is quite an interesting, if somewhat extraneous, exercise to undertake.
If you have a spare five minutes, jot down the players in the current squad that you think will be here in August…
So, the first of the players retained for the 2016/17 season were announced yesterday.
It looks as if the club are going to release the names by position again, with half backs and centres featuring this week.
And it’s good news, too.
Pete White, Tony Fenner, Will Maisey and Tom Wheatcroft have all re-signed, with Wheatcroft, White and Maisey here for at least another season and Fenner another two.
In an interview with John Wilkinson, Pete White made no bones about the fact that he:
wants to play at the highest level possible and if an opportunity arises for me to go higher, I’ll grab it with two hands.
At the time, I took that to mean that if an offer came his way to join a Championship side, then he would be off come the end of this season. He’s clearly had plenty of interest from other clubs, and I can’t believe some of that doesn’t include the odd Championship side, so it looks like Cov have done well to retain his services.
Pete’s decision to stay with Coventry must be a relief to the coaches, as I’m sure it is for the supporters. At this level he is a class act and the fact that he is prepared to commit himself is a clear indication of the faith the players have in the club.
The same applies to the signing of Tony Fenner – two years to me suggests that RW feels Fenner is going to be a key member of the Coventry squad as it moves inexorably towards its goal of promotion into the Championship. The more he plays, the more impressed I am with him and he’s one of the first names on the team sheet for me. He’s clearly happy here and with the likes of Wheatcroft, Stevens and Grove outside him, he’s going to be part of one of the strongest back divisions we’ve had since we’ve been in this division.
Tom Wheatcroft has been unlucky with injuries, but he is an experienced player who is going to relish the strengthening of the back line next season. He’s clearly going to have to fight for his place with Stevens and Grove also available in the midfield, and presumably at least one other. However, good players relish such challenges and Tom is definitely in that category. It’s an area that already looks stronger than this season and with further announcements to be made, it’s all rather exciting…
For me, Will Maisey has been the surprise player of this season. He showed plenty of potential when he was last with us, but he has matured immensely and the fact that he has featured in every game shows how much faith the coaches have in him. He’s been our match winner in three or four games this season and seems to have nerves of steel.
With Grove and Stevens here next season, he might find he is having to play across two positions again as he has done for much of this season, but he is the ideal squad player, happy at either fly half or centre and someone who fits easily into the attacking-minded style of play that RW is keen to see Coventry embrace.
Four key players…
All-in-all, an excellent start.
At the beginning of the season, I put together a squad list with photos – the website wasn’t functional then and it’s something not usually available from the club until the whole squad has been announced anyway.
I’ll do something similar again for the new season, but I’ll commence it as of now so that there’s a quick reference available on the blog to those players who officially signed – which at the moment amounts to just 6 players. The name of each players will also be a hyperlink that, if clicked, will take you to the announcement of the signing which tends to give the player’s age, number of appearances and other useful information.
It’s an aide memoire for me as much as anything, but it’s there should anyone else want to use it .
I’ll pin it to the masthead on the front page for easy reference, alongside this season’s squad.
A quick link to it can also be found below:
This has no relevance to today’s post, other than relates to a different form of recruitment, that of enlisting into the British armed forces back 1914-15. It’s something I happened to come across by chance when looking for some clip art related to today’s topic.
It needs little comment – it’s just a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by men in their prime…
…propaganda at it’s worst.
‘Every player who represented England in Rugby international matches last year has joined the colours’
Sadly, few of them will have returned.
Lest we forget.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori…