I just flew in from the windy city
The windy city is mighty purdy
But they ain’t got what we got
I’m tellin you boys
Doris Day – Windy City
With no match on Saturday, the England Counties v Scotland Club XV offers a perfect opportunity to watch some live rugby over the weekend.
Better still, with four Coventry players in the squad, there’s a bit of ‘home’ interest as well. Whilst Birmingham Moseley can boast 5 players in the match day squad with the late addition of their very promising 19 years old fly half, James Williams , Coventry have three in the starting XV compared to Moseley’s two – more than any other club in fact.
Jimmy Litchfield, Pete White and James Stokes start and Andy Brown is on the bench. In addition, Jack Preece is in at 7 and it will be my first opportunity to see him since the announcement of his imminent arrival at the BPA.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but when I watch a Cov game, I’m not able to watch it holistically, so-to-speak. My focus is almost always on Cov rather than on the opposition as well, and it has to be an exceptional performance from a player from the other team for me to notice it.
So tomorrow, it will be good to spend a bit of time watching the Cov players perform, old and new, as well as some familiar names, if not familiar faces.
Ex-Coventry man, Sam Baker is also on the bench – he’s someone who has certainly shown just how good he is after leaving Coventry fairly early on last season – one of those players who never really got the chance they deserved. Just an opinion, though :).
James Stokes plays out on the wing, as he did for England Counties on their highly successful end of season tour to Canada last year – he’s played out wide a few times for Cov, both in the pre-season and early on in the league programme, principally to accommodate James Pritchard. I’m not convinced he’s as effective there but, such is his ability, he’s going to be a threat wherever he plays.
The team is as follows:
Team to face Scotland: 1. Trevor Davison (Blaydon/Durham), 2. Matthew Miles (Old Albanians/Hertfordshire), 3. James Litchfield (Coventry/Warwickshire), 4. George Oram (Birmingham Moseley/Kent), 5. Nile Dacres (Plymouth/Devon), 6. Keith Laughlin (c) (Blaydon/Northumberland), 7. Jack Preece (Birmingham Moseley/Gloucestershire), 8. Tom Baldwin (Blackheath/Kent), 9. Peter White (Coventry/East Midlands), 10. Joe Tarrant (Ampthill/Eastern Counties), 11. James Stokes (Coventry/Eastern Counties), 12. Steve Leonard (Hartpury/Gloucestershire), 13. Markus Burcham (Blackheath/Kent), 14. Leo Fielding (Blackheath/Gloucestershire), 15. Mike Wilcox (Hartpury/Gloucestershire).
Replacements: 16. Andrew Brown (Coventry/Notts, Lincs & Derby), 17. Daniel Pullinger (Plymouth/Devon), 18. Ted Stagg (Caldy/Cheshire), 19. Chris Brightwell (Birmingham Moseley/North Midlands), 20. Harry Bate (Old Albanians/Hertfordshire), 21. Dave Brazier (Birmingham Moseley/North Midlands), 22. Sam Baker (Ampthill/East Midlands), 23. James Williams (Birmingham Moseley/Dorset & Wilts).
It should be a good evening’s entertainment over at Billesley Common and for the princely sum of just £7.50, it’s certainly been sensibly priced.
For those that are playing, it might well be the pinnacle of their career – the chance to wear the English rose. According to the England Rugby website, it is
England Counties is the flagship team of the community game in England and offers players from National League One and below the opportunity to represent their country. This year’s squad features players from 10 different clubs and 13 different counties.
To play for your country must be the greatest honour of all – I can’t really imagine anything beating it at club level. Indeed, Moseley’s second row, George Oram (and if the rumour on rolling-maul that Coventry might have signed up to four Moseley players is true, George Oram would definitely be next on my shopping list!), when asked what his proudest moment in rugby was, replied:
winning with England Counties against Romania in Bucharest,
a feeling echoed by our own Pete White:
It’s an honour – it’s not very often you get the opportunity to represent your country. As a kid growing up you dream about it, and the opportunity to pull on the jersey with the red rose on Friday night will be one I will cherish for a long time.
You’d hope that first England Counties shirt would certainly be framed and hung somewhere very prominent, alongside all the various cups and trophies accumulated along the way.
The players met up on Wednesday for the first time and have clearly been busy since then, both out on the training ground and in the classroom. One of the great things about the England Counties Twitter account is that it gives regularly updates and these have certainly fuelled my interest in the game, as I’m sure they will have done others as well.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but look out for the Coventry players when you view the video clips!
— England Counties (@EnglandCounties) February 23, 2017
— England Counties (@EnglandCounties) February 22, 2017
In addition, there are plenty of photos, too…
Great to get a little bit of behind the scenes images like this and it certainly adds to the build up.
It’s something I’m sure Cov could do in the future, especially during the week of a home game. For those supporters unsure as to whether to watch Cov on a Saturday, a few midweek clips or photos might just whet the appetite enough to make the difference between a trip across the city and a visit to the BPA.
I would imagine the fact that Coventry has four representatives in the England Counties squad is pretty good publicity in itself for Cov, and will send a message out to players up and down the country that if you come to Cov, you’re going to get noticed…it certainly might help when we are trying to attract players in competition with other clubs in National One.
For the Premiership clubs, much of the publicity is done for them, with so many of their players getting almost daily coverage, especially at this time of year…maybe we have to make our own publicity.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the build up on social media and this has only heightened my interest.
I’m sure @EnglandCounties will also have pretty detailed in-match coverage, so if there are those of you who want to follow the scores tomorrow, that’s probably your best bet – although maybe the game is being televised as well on one of the satellite channels?
However, Moseley are caught between something of a rock and a hard place following the inclusion of 5 of their regular first team in tomorrow’s game. Although clearly celebrating the personal achievement of the players involved, it does also leave Director of Rugby Kevin Maggs with a huge headache. On Saturday, Moseley has to travel up north (or maybe even today given the length of the journey) to face Blaydon following the postponement of the original fixture last month, the result of inclement weather.
Not surprisingly, Maggs has been in touch, on several occasions, with the RFU in an effort to get the game put back until the next free window, but he has had no joy. Blaydon is keen for the game to go ahead, which is of no surprise given that Moseley will be without a third of their usual starting line up. Although Blaydon themselves will be without two players, home advantage and some decent form of late mean that there probably won’t be a better time to face Moseley, especially as our near neighbours haven’t had the best of results in the last couple of games.
In the Coventry Telegraph yesterday, Paul Smith suggested Maggs is ‘fuming’. In the article, KM rightly points out:
The administrators have fallen back to the letter of the regulations, regardless of what it would mean for player welfare if I were to force these players to turn out twice in less than 24 hours and travel nine hours in the process….who would pick up the pieces if one of them got seriously injured? I don’t want that on my conscience, and I won’t put the players in that position, but the fixture should have been moved.
We obviously will fulfil the fixture, but will be at a significant disadvantage without a third of our starting team.
I have to say, I have every sympathy with him and should Blaydon win, which is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, then Hull and Macclesfield, who are fighting for their lives alongside Blaydon at the foot of the table to avoid the two relegation places, will clearly be less than happy with the outcome.
The Blaydon v Moseley game will also be of interest to Coventry supporters, given that next weekend we make the long trek up there as well. Blaydon is never the easiest of grounds to go to and with the home side having won three of their last 4 games (including against Blackheath and Esher) they are going to be relishing the challenge of a Coventry side that has been disappointing on its travels this season.
Anyway, that’s for next week. Today is about celebrating the fact that four of our players have been selected to play for England against their Scottish equivalents who beat them pretty convincingly last season 57-27, with two of England’s tries coming in the last two minutes! Last season, Cov had only the one representative, Andy Brown, but also in the squad that day were Rob Conquest, Brett Daynes and James Stokes.
I suppose cynics might argue that having 9 out of the 23 in the squad from the two West Midlands’ sides is one way of guaranteeing larger crowds, given the game is at Moseley, but that an argument for another day.
It should be a good evening’s entertainment if last year’s result is anything to go by!
Hope Doris will have had her day by then, though….if you’ll pardon the pun.
And for, not for the faint-hearted, highlights of last year’s game against Scotland.
And, finally, it’s too good to resist…
Doris Day…Windy City