Club talk

The supporters’ ‘Player of the Season’…Sam Tuitupou and the new recruits (see how the sun shines brightly in the city)…a poll

First things first…

I’ve been asked to include a link to the Supporters’ Player of the Year Award poll.

And here it is. Just click on the link below and you should be taken directly to the poll:

Supporters’ Player of the Season Award – 2016/17

I should add that the Supporters’ Club Committee has worked extremely hard over the last 72 hours to ensure that voting is open to everyone. The original decision to use just the CRSC poll was not of its own, making despite some disappointing comments elsewhere.

A lot of time and effort on the part of the Supporters’ Club has been put into ensuring the vote has now been opened up to everyone.

Votes can also be cast through the Messageboard or the official website, should you prefer, but only the one vote will be registered.

Such has been the success on the pitch this season that whoever wins the award will have earned it as there would appear to be a lot of potential winners from which to choose.

Good luck to everyone involved

Many thanks to Cliff and Quent, and the rest of the Committee, for sorting it all out.

Last night was the 13th official meeting of the Supporters’ Club  in less than 9 months. Most, if not all, have been in the evening and there have been countless other unofficial meetings involving Cliff and Quent in particular. All the members have shown dedication well above and beyond the call of duty and, once again, I would just like to record my thanks to them for everything they have achieved  in such a short space of time.

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Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mister blue sky is living here today, hey hey
Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?
ELO – Mr Blue Sky

Sam Tuitupou, it is then.

It says a lot about what is happening at Coventry at the moment that we can attract players of the experience and quality of  Tuitupou, Narraway, Grove and Makaafi, amongst others.

All full internationals, all still with much to give to the game and all doubtless had plenty of other offers to consider. And whatever anyone else might say, I don’t for a minute believe they are coming here because there’s more money on the table than anywhere else. No way…

No, they have been convinced by the vision that the likes of Rowland Winter and Jon Sharp have for this club, as well as the belief that in turn there is much that they can gain, other than financially, from being here – a  chance to further an interest in coaching under the supervision of a widely respected Head Coach perhaps, or maybe an opportunity to develop a future career outside of the game whilst still playing national league rugby.

These aren’t journeymen. They have remained loyal to their previous clubs for a considerable length of time and for them to decide on Coventry as their club of choice at this stage of their careers must be seen as a real feather in Coventry’s cap.

In previous seasons, especially over the last seven years since we’ve been in National One, I have got used to seeing players come in whom I haven’t actually heard of before. Players who, on paper, look to be good additions to the squad (and often on YouTube as well!) but about whom I actually know very little.

It’s all been down to having to rely on the ability of the coaches to make the right decisions.

This season is different. The players who have been brought in aren’t just any names, they’re familiar ones…familiar faces, too. Despite having a reasonable knowledge of National One, outside of our league I’d be struggling to have a decent conversation about club rugby, knowing more probably about National 2 North than I do about the Championship or even the Premiership. In that respect, I am very insular.

Yet here I am, suddenly confronted with names that even I have heard of…players who I have seen on television or read about in The Rugby Paper.

Big names, big players…

And they’re on their way to Cov.

In the past, okay we’ve had the odd rugby icon….Zinzan, is the obvious one, but also the likes of Mark Tinnock, Will Johnson, Elisi Vunipola spring to mind. Hardly iconic perhaps, but at the time they seemed well above the type of player Coventry normally attracted. And not all of them fulfilled their promise….

But never three, four or even five at one go…

Eves brought with him a number of Premiership quality players, Patten, Sharp, Blackmore, Robinson and so on, but they weren’t anything like the same quality as Tuitupou and Narraway. Younger, but not as experienced.

And to be honest it’s all proving a bit much…in the nicest possible way.

Even those we’ve brought in from National One are the standout players in our league…Preece, Dacres, Oram, Brazier, players whom I’ve watched and admired either playing against us or for England Counties (all four of them!)…

For someone who has watched Coventry tread water all these years, it is difficult to assimilate.

And what of the two other recruits…Morley and James Neal?

Well, Boris has had his eye on Harry Morley all season by all accounts and as everything Boris seems to touch at the moment turns to gold, then I think it’s fair to assume he’s going to be a good’un. RW compared him to a younger Jimmy Litchfield…

…enough said.

And James Neal?

Another youngster…a winger, too.

And who was the last winger that Rowland Winter and Matt Burke took something of a gamble on…no less than Max ‘I’ll run them in from anywhere’ Trimble. Hardly a poor choice, that one…

And just when everyone should be expressing caution and urging supporters not to get carried away with the current success we’re seeing on the pitch, the club then proceed to bring in the kind of players we might have only dreamed about a couple of seasons ago.

Surely, if we are getting excited, Messrs Winter and Sharp must take some of the blame here… 😉

I’m not sure whether it was Paul Smith who came up with the idea of comparing the current 2017/18 Cov squad with Real Madrid, or whether it was someone else at the Coventry Telegraph, but the term Galaticos, as applied to Coventry, might well stick – especially amongst our rivals in National One. In truth, Cov is anything but a team of Galaticos, as the term implies a degree of expenditure well in excess of anything Cov could afford…but this is becoming a team of big names, although hopefully without the egos to match.

But hey, I don’t mind Cov being compared with Real Madrid, there are far worse comparisons to be made…

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All that, and I still haven’t really mentioned Sam Tuitupou’s arrival, other than to bracket him along side the other notable recruits joining us for the 2017/18 campaign.

At times this season our backs have been exposed to teams running at us and whilst our defensive lines have improved a great deal, even as recently as Cambridge we saw how frail we are against teams who like give the ball a bit of width. Well, one thing we can be sure of is that Sam is going to bring some steel to the midfield. Defensively he is the proverbial brick wall, except that in his case it’s a brick wall that hits you, rather than you hitting it.

It’s almost worth having a sweep on the number of ‘ooohs’ coming from around the BPA in the first home game Sam plays ib as he puts in those characteristic ground-shaking tackles.

He’s going to pierce holes in the opposition defences, too, and the combination of Sam and Grove, Stevens or Knox is one that is going to whet the appetite all season.

Yes, he’s 35 years old, but I don’t think he’s come here to play just a handful of games over the course of next season. He’s here on a two-year contract, which is a plus in itself, and I think the coaches will want to get the most from him on the pitch, without risking injury obviously. We saw how cleverly Boris was used before Christmas and I’d imagine we’ll see something similar with Sam, too.

Early on in the season, Rowland Winter highlighted a lack experience on the pitch as a key factor in Coventry’s disappointing away record. The departures of Prichard and Snyman and then the injury to Boris further added to the problem and whilst the players have learned quickly, especially under the leadership of Phil Boulton after Christmas, there is still a shortage of seasoned players in the squad. In fact I think I’m right in suggesting that at not much over 31, Phil is the old man of the team – which is nothing really in today’s game. This is an exceptionally young squad and although it has done remarkably well in its first season together, it needs the benefit off some older heads on some older, but willing, legs.

In Luke Narraway (33), Latu Makaafi (34) and Sam Tuitupou (35), Rowland Winter has addressed this concern and if these players stay fit (and under the expert care of Hannah Walker, Rob Norman and Max Hartman, Cov probably has the best support team in the league), then in those away games like Esher, Fylde, Rosslyn Park and Blackheath, I can’t see us capitulating again as we did this season.

Players Like Dacres (25), Preece (27) and Grove (29) are nearing, or have reached, the prime of their playing careers and Oram (23), Brazier (24) and Neal (22ish) continue the coaches desire to invest in the future. It’s a good mix…

We know more about the players coming into the side than we probably have done for many a season and it’s not a case of just having to believe that the players newly recruited are of a similar standard or better than those already here, we can see that for ourselves.

It seems to be that the club has done everything it can to bring together  a team that is going to play entertaining rugby, be competitive and attract those supporters who over the previous couple of seasons have stayed away from the BPA for the very reason that they have felt those three ingredients have been missing pre-2016/17. Coventry seemed to do a fantastic job on the media front yesterday in publicising Sam’s arrival on Twitter and Facebook and I’m sure the efforts of Lara and those in the Office over the past few weeks will be repaid with bumper season ticket enquiries over the coming days and weeks.

Great stuff…

A summer to enjoy as the anticipation gathers…

…see how the sun shines brightly in the city…

Hello, Mr Blue (and white) Sky

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And here’s a quick poll of my own to finish on…

Who, out of all the players joining us next season, are you most looking forward to seeing in a Cov shirt?

That’s not necessarily the same as being asked who the best signing, potentially, is – in fact for me, the two questions would give two different answers. It could be who excites you most, who you feel is the likeliest match winner or who you think will be the most consistent performer. Your vote, your criteria.

Just indicate against the name who you are voting for and remember to scroll down to the foot of the poll to press the ‘Vote’ button to record your choice.

Once again, you only get the one vote.

Results in Friday’s post.

Many thanks for taking part.

Tim

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Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?
We kind of know the answer to that now.
But even so, welcome back Mr Blue Sky…
Bev makes his first appearance…long overdue…even if it is ELO
(Travelling Wilbury’s rule)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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