Club talk

Deacon Blue (and White)…This Train Will Take You Anywhere

This is bigger than anything
That’ll ever go past you
It drowns out what you say
And it blows the dust away
And it makes it’s own way
We can’t stop it

This train will take you anywhere
This train will take you anywhere
You want to go

Deacon Blue – This Train Will Take You Anywhere

The journey continues and the train remains very much on track.

Three more players re-sign and a new member of the coaching staff appointed.

Welcome on board, Matt Price, Tom Poole, Jake Byrne and Louis Deacon.

Amongst the supporters I chat to, there is a growing excitement at what is currently happening at Coventry; this latest news will do nothing to dampen it.

To any outsiders looking in, it is probably very much a case of the ‘same old, same old’. The start of this season saw a new coach, a new squad and another season where, in their eyes, big spending Coventry has probably underachieved. We’ve had one of the biggest playing budgets most seasons since we’ve been in National One and, to the casual observer, Cov has flattered to deceive pretty much every time.

Always amongst the pre-season favourites and, as often as not, mid table or below.

If only they knew how the winds of change they are a-blowing over the BPA at the moment…

…or perhaps it’s a good job they don’t.

18 players so far retained and only 6 new signings as of today. Consistency at last. A small number of players with real pedigree being added to the squad, together with another promising young coach who has already been part of the successful England U20 Six Nations and who brings with him a wealth of international and premiership experience.

Louis Deacon is, as of this week, a Deacon Blue and White.

Capped 29 times for his country, with 272 appearances for Leicester and more recently having won the Grand Slam as part of the England u20’s coaching set up (by invitation back in December 2016), Deacon is someone who will add further gravitas to an already highly experienced coaching team at Coventry. Stankovich, Walshe, Burke and now Deacon. It looks good on paper, anyway.

Reunited once again with former Tiger, Boris Stankovich, Deacon’s arrival means that the Cov forwards will have two highly rated coaches working with them and that should make for an even stronger performance from them next season – and with new players, Latu Makaafi, Jack Preece, Nile Dacres and Harry Morely also involved, it’s going to  be the most formidable pack we’ve had, on paper at least, since Coventry joined National One back in 2010.

And I can’t help wondering whether LD’s appointment will bring with it additional benefits.

Will, for instance, Premiership clubs be more inclined to loan us their Academy players, especially forwards, knowing that one of the coaches involved with the England u20s is also here? It would seem possible, certainly. Will he also bring with him another couple of Moseley players as is often the case when coaches (or DoRs) move on?

Names on a postcard….

Tom Poole’s decision to re-sign would appear to be partly influenced by the Deacon factor, something he made evident in his interview with John Wilkinson published on the official website yesterday:

If Poole did have any doubts about the future, they were removed by the arrival of former England international Louis Deacon who was announced this week as Cov’s new line-out coach.

That was also a big reason for wanting to stay…This is a very tough league to get out of, no-one can dispute that, but if you look at the quality of the coaches we’ve got now we are in a good position to push on.

Tom’s Keen To Get The Job Done

‘Deacon the Beacon’ – attracting quality players to Coventry and:

This train will take you anywhere
You want to go

Whilst the scrum has been solid all season under Boris Stankovich – perhaps concrete and rock hard would be a better description – the line-out hasn’t always been as secure, especially after the  departure of Brendon Snyman. Having spent 15 months with Moseley, his first appointment as coach having retired from the game as a player through injury in Feb 2015, Louis Deacon joins Coventry with immediate effect. I’m surprised he is able to start quite so quickly, but it does mean that he gets to work with the players for the final 4 games of the season which should be an advantage when it comes to pre-season in July and August.

The Moseley Messageboard is fairly indifferent to his departure, a mixture of resignation, the occasional sour grapes and some uncertainty about his impact during his time there.

Despite that, I think it’s an astute move by RW. At Moseley, Deacon was originally taken on as a specialist line-out coach, but was promoted to the forwards’ coach  this season. With Boris overseeing the scrums though, this isn’t going to happen and the two coaches working in tandem is the ideal scenario.

Having originally expected to miss training this week, I now hope to be able to make it and, if I do, it might well be I’ll see  Louis Deacon out on the pitch and already involved in working with the senior squad in preparation for Coventry’s crunch game against Rosslyn Park at home on Saturday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So another three players from the current squad have been retained for next season – Tom Poole, Jake Byrne and Matt Price, with Price taking on additional responsibilities, leading as he will be on the new ‘Player and Coach Development Academy’. I’d heard talk of the broadening of the current Development Squad into what will be akin to an Academy, not unlike a toned down version of Henley College in some respects, but I was unaware that it would include a coaching initiative as part of it as well.

Everyone speaks extremely highly of the role Matt has had in working with the youngsters in Coventry and it is no surprise that he is being asked to head up the Academy. The testimonial is an appropriate gesture from the club, given Matt’s steadfast loyalty to Cov over the years, especially when rugby is becoming something of a nomadic occupation these days.

The fact that Matt is still going to be playing rugby as  well is evidence of the high regard in which he is held by the club as a player as well and the Tolmie/Price combination has worked well this season. I would imagine that by playing a little than he did last, Matt is able to prolong his career at this level a little more than he might have been able to do otherwise. More often than not, Matt has come on as one of the ‘finishers’  and has done a really effective job in that role.

Over 270 appearances in total playing for Bedford, Rugby and Coventry is a pretty impressive career record and it is good the club are awarding Matt’s loyalty to Coventry, having played 174 games for us in the last 7 seasons, despite probably the best part of a season off fa neck injury (I think..).

The re-signing  of Tom Poole will please many Coventry supporters.

Tom has had a good run in the side of late, a combination of good form, remaining injury free after his initial problems at the start of the season and an opportunity opening up for him with both Snyman and Conquest leaving the club. He has got better and better in the games he’s played in this most recent run and his physicality makes him and ideal foil for Tom Jubb, each complementing the other in the second row. As he said in the article on the official website, he plays ‘on the edge’ at times and as a result he does sometimes challenge the patience of the referees, falling foul to the odd yellow or three. But he is far more controlled than he used to be and his experience will count for a great deal with each passing season. He’s only 28 and with a hundred caps to his name already, he’ll have his sights on the 150 for sure.

I thought a couple of interesting things came out of John Wilkinson’s interview with Tom P. I’d always wondered what those players whom Rowland Winter had  recruited from last year’s squad had made of his appointment and the subsequent upheavals,  so it was particularly interesting to read Tom’s comments:

I don’t like to use clichés, but this was always going to be a bit of a transition period for a new side, and for the lads that were stopping after last season it’s perhaps fair to say that we were all a little sceptical as to where it was all going to go…

It shows the degree of uncertainty that was prevalent at the time, whilst also mirroring some of the scepticism that some supporters felt, too. It also might explain why the early results weren’t as consistent (four losses in the first six games) as the players took time to buy into RW’s vision and adapt to what appears to be a far more professional approach to the game this season.  That most of those who were retained have stayed on, with the likes of MacBurnie, Smith and Rundle moving on because they’ve had to, rather than chosen to, bears witness to Tom’s affirmation that:

…everybody has bought into what’s being done, and everybody has brought something with them in some shape or form, from the development lads up to the top players.

He goes on to say that:

We’d all like to get the job done, so we have to keep upping our game, and the quality of the guys coming in for next year is only going to help us take the next step up and get closer to where we want to be

‘Job done’?

Surely, that can only mean promotion?

No one wants to say the ‘P’ word out loud, even less put a time limit on it, but it is there, in the back of everyone’s minds, and the more successful the club is on and off the field, the more we will believe it is a possibility over the next couple of seasons or so.

And it’s kind of what you want to hear…

As for Jake, well he’s had a fair bit of coverage in this blog of late and needless to say I’m delighted to see his promotion into the full squad has been made official. He’s clearly a good prospect and if Boris is confident he can make the step up, well that’s good enough for me! It also shows how the Development Squad does work and his first appearances for the club could soon be followed by those of  Cameron Gray and Will Priestley, both of whom have trained recently with the full squad…

Well done, Will.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Me, I’m more than happy to see those with a passing interest in Coventry believe that this another in the long line of Coventry squads that has been amassed at great expense, with the usual comments running alongside as to Coventry overspending and mention of lessons not being learned from previous financial collapses.

More than happy.

For while they rub their hands in delight at the thought of next season being yet another in a long line of false dawns for Coventry, we are quietly building something exciting, a team that will before too long be more than capable of challenging for the top places in this league.

The tickets for the next leg of the journey go on sale on Saturday…

The train has almost reached it’s first stop and after a short break will soon be leaving for it’s next destination.

This train will take you anywhere…

Anywhere you want.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A little disappointed, and  very surprised, I couldn’t find a decent video for what is a great album track.

4 replies »

  1. Deacs will bring a lot to the pack, but that will supplement and compliment what Boris is doing with the front row. He’s a quiet bloke though, is Louis. I’ve known him since he and his brother Brett were kicking a ball round outside after our game.

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    • Hi Rhys – must say I’m excited at the prospect of Boris and Louis Deacon working in tandem…Moseley supporters seems to suggest he’s anything but quiet, though!

      Like

  2. Loving the header for this article Tim, those were the days! just to let you know that I will be on the ‘footplate’ as I pass by the ground at around 14:33 on Saturday so look out for the scarf and give us a wave. 👋

    Like

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