Club talk

Training ground update – some interesting bits and pieces…

Now when the rumor comes to your town,
It grows and grows, where it started no one knows.
Some of your neighbors will invite it right in,
Maybe it’s a lie, even if it’s a sin,
They’ll repeat the rumor again

The Band – The Rumor

 

Well maybe not that interesting, but I hope it’s worth the read.

Firstly, though, many thanks to John Wilkinson for clearing up a point raised by Rob Carter regarding the current size of next season’s squad, as officially announced, together with some further information relating to likely additions over the remaining weeks.

John left it under the ‘Comments’ section of the previous post, but given that not every one will go back to look what might or might not have been added I’ve included it here, given it’s importance:

The numbers game does get confusing. As it stands, there are eight new signings (4 England Counties plus 1 Tonga, 1 Scotland). Possibly 4 to come – 1 definite will be named on Tuesday (ex-international); the others include 1 international but have not been finalised.

Number of announced retained players is 18, plus Jake Byrne from development squad – this is unlikely to change. There will probably be loan players but who, from where and when will not be confirmed until, in all probability, August at the earliest. One of these would come in the ‘worn an England shirt this season’ category but, again, nothing is yet in stone and the numbers could be influenced by whether full signings are completed or not.
Boris is on a two-year contract so was always going to be here next season – he has confirmed that himself.
Hope this helps!

It does indeed, John, thank you..

I’m quite relieved as I’d worked out the same from the official announcements that have been made over the last few weeks.

For a full list of next season’s squad, together with photos and some accompanying details, please click on the following link:

Coventry Rugby Club Squad 2017/18

I’ve included the length of contract alongside the name and photo, following a previous request.

The vast majority of players are on one year contracts, something which has worried me a little, given that come the end of next season we could, in theory, lose a significant proportion of the squad, something I asked Rowland Winter about at training last night.

Having thought about it since, I can now quite understand why he looked at me in that sort of bemused, but nevertheless patient, manner he has…the kind and long suffering schoolmaster putting up with the naïvely inquisitive pupil.

The answer is embarrassingly obvious really, although as a supporter it is a question that seemed worth raising at the time.

A one year contract gives both parties the option to end the partnership after just 12 months if it hasn’t worked out quite as intended, without any worry about having to negotiate the cancellation of longer contracts over two or more years.

It makes absolute sense really, although it’s in my nature to want the security of tying up our high profile players for more than just the one season.

That  said, RW went on to point out that most of this season’s squad were also on one year contracts. Provided the club is moving forward and making progress and the longer term goals are still accessible, most players will be happy to renew their contracts anyway.

I’m only guessing here, but I imagine it also gives them a bit of room to renegotiate terms as well if they have proven themselves to be important to the club’s success on the pitch over the previous season.

As always, Rowland spent some time with the supporters who were there, although much to my embarrassment I have to report I arrived half an hour later than usual, following somebody’s failed suicide attempt in front of the 5.48 pm Hampton in Arden to Coventry train. Fortunately, no one was hurt, although there was a long delay whilst police ensured that the line was clear and there was no one in the vicinity of the track.

In short, I missed some of what was said, but when I got there it was clear next Tuesday’s announcement was the hot top of discussion.

Now I sure there will be one or two readers hoping for a pre-announcement scoop…

…but that’s not going to happen.

What I can say is that there will be a forward announced next Tuesday and a back the Tuesday after.

It’s the back that intrigues me the most.

I understand the forward has international credentials, and good ones at that, but  I know nothing of the back. I did ask RW what position he is likely to take up and it looks to be midfield, and when I asked if it was another premiership player, the response was  ‘Yes, and some…’.

Nothing else was forthcoming and once again it’s another long wait until his identity is known.

Going back to Jon Sharpe’s comment after the game last Saturday about there being two Tongans on their way to Cov next season, it would seem a fair bet then that one of them is going to be next Tuesday’s announcement, or the Tuesday afterwards.

My bet it’s the back…a week on Tuesday.

All very intriguing.

Talk about leaving us hanging in mid air.

There is a very impish side to Rowland Winter and he clearly took some delight in watching us suffer and it is equally clear that he is excited of both acquisitions being at Cov next season.

It’s hard not to believe that the current 2016/17 squad would figure in the top 3 or 4, were it to stay together next year given the its current form and the run of recent results. With the addition of those players whom we already know are on their way over to Coventry, together with the likelihood of two marquee signings still to come, we have the makings of a top 2 team at least.

Or is that just me getting carried away again?

One of those present asked RW about last season’s squad and how difficult a decision it had been not to re-sign some of those players whom he’d let go. He mentioned a couple of players he had considered, George Oliver and, probably more surprisingly, Tiploma Kivalu, but made the point that players with big reputations within our league had underachieved that season and he could only base his judgements on recordings of the games he saw and most of those weren’t very encouraging.

The other point worth mentioning, although in fairness it wasn’t alluded to yesterday evening, is that all the players who left were out of contract, with the club honouring those few who were midway through a 2 year contract.

It wasn’t a question of moving players on, merely of not offering a new contract – which goes back to my earlier comment about next season’s squad – 1 year contracts are a very safe option. Presumably, as a player on just a one year option, there is no room to simply tread water as there might be on a longer contract – if you want that extension beyond the 12 months, then you’ve got to be proving yourself all the time.

The other thing that he hinted at, without really going into any specifics, was that it wasn’t the most unified of squads last season, with there being divisions amongst the players, something many of us were aware of at the time.

At least starting almost from scratch as he’s done this year, RW has been able to shape the squad as he wants it, rather than have to battle against potential differences between the players even before they get onto the training ground.

I did ask at what point the current squad get to hear about the new signings…I’d imagined it would be well in advance of the public announcements. However, it appears this isn’t the case, with players often getting to find out about the latest recruits via the media releases.

Sometimes, given the contacts that players have at other clubs, they’ll get to hear in advance of the official announcement but this certainly isn’t always the case.

Thinking about that on the way home, I did wonder if RW would tell someone currently at Cov potential targets he was after in their position prior to that player committing himself as that could, surely, be a deciding factor.

For instance, hypothetically, if I was a loose-head currently at Cov, would I have the chance to find out that another two loose-heads are on their way here both, say, with international experience. If that were the case, I might well opt for a move because it would be unlikely that I’d see much game time.

As far as the launch of the Development Academy is concerned, there are already 16 players signed up, with another 14 places planned  – 30 in all. For me, it’s one of the most exciting advancements that has taken place since Rowland Winter’s arrival outside, of course, of the progression made by the first team.

The rapid rise of young players like Jake Byrne and Will Priestley are cause for much celebration; home grown talent that is making a real impact amongst the best players in the league. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the Zoo League games almost as much as I will the National One games and. with any luck, it will be a chance to see some of the Coventry stars of the future.

I’m hoping to make the game on Saturday now, something I hadn’t expected to be able to do a few days ago. To be honest, I’m a little worried about the game – only because it’s not the easiest place to go and OAs aren’t necessarily the most ideal of clubs to give you the motivation and drive need to succeed in the same way than maybe a Moseley or a Plymouth does..

However, the James Pritchard factor could work in our favour. Having started this season as coach with us, he’s now very much a part of the OA set up and has scored something like 6 tries in as many appearances for them already, although again that’s relying on Statbunker. I rather expect that Coventry players and coaches will be looking forward to renewing their friendship with JP off the pitch, if not on it.

It was after the OAs game that Pritchard’s contract was terminated, so the wheel has pretty much turned full circle.

OAs mustn’t be underestimated and they are more than capable of turning us over if we aren’t totally focused – as we saw in the home game when we so very nearly suffered a second defeat of the season at the BPA.

Cov’s performances have been far more disciplined since the first OA game, with Nick Walshe and Craig Newby seeming to have had more of an impact on the field than James was every able to d. But James Pritchard is a quality act on the pitch and if he could well make Cov suffer should we have one of our away day malaises. Having won away from home at Blaydon and then Cambridge, OAs represent the next step up and the game will be a useful sighter as to our current form.

Further, with James Shanahan, OA’s Head Coach, leaving at the end of the season to go to Blackheath, another of the promotion chasing hopefuls in 2017/18, the game is an opportunity to make a statement to him as to where we are currently and is another one of those games that will give us some bragging rights when it comes to the start of next season.

The double over James Shanahan is yet another of those targets to tick off as we approach the end of the season.

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Just for the fun of it – here is a map of England that includes all 16 National One clubs – can you correctly identify which club is represented by each of the flags?

The solution, should it be needed, can be found at:

National One clubs map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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