Club talk

Training ground update #1

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better

Eminem – Lose yourself

One shot…one opportunity…

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I had the pleasure of my first visit to Coventry Rugby’s newly adopted Massey Ferguson training ground yesterday.

I was suitably impressed.

It’s a large area of beautifully kept playing fields, including a cricket pitch and probably room for a couple of rugby pitches too, although I have to admit my perception of area isn’t great. There is also a new purpose built pavilion with, if I remember correctly, 6 separate changing rooms.

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The brand new pavilion at Summerhill Lane which is yet to be officially opened. The green portacabins in the background are temporary until the changing rooms are available.

As of now it remains unfurnished, being only recently completed, and at the moment Coventry is having to use some large portacabins until the main pavilion is ready for use.

It’s a lovely facility and the beauty of it is that it is hardly being used at all, with just one midweek and one Saturday cricket match currently being played there. The grounds seem exceptionally well looked after and with a decent sized car park, it seems ideal.

The idea is that all Cov’s training will take place at the Summerhill Lane site other than on a Thursday once the season has started, when training will revert back to the BPA, for obvious reasons. The club will put up some rugby posts as well once the squad has settled in to its new surroundings.

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The pavilion from the reverse angle – foolishly, I didn’t take a panoramic view, something I’ll address on Thursday.

A possible positive by-product of training at Massey Ferguson’s ground for the majority of the week over the course of the season might just be that, psychologically, training away from the Butts might better prepare the squad  for away games where, last season, we struggled to produce the same kind of performances we did at home.

It’s certainly a point of discussion anyway.

As always, Rowland Winter and Nick Walshe took time out to come and chat to myself and Quent Meluish about all things Coventry and it was the perfect opportunity to quiz them about what’s been happening since the end of last season.

So, in no particular order:

The new kit manufacturer is in place and indeed some of the kit has already arrived at the club. There will be an official announcement soon and it is hoped that there will be examples on display at the Open Day at the end of July. Merchandise will be available in the club shop and also online and what I’ve seen of it is certainly very encouraging.

RW showed us images of the home and away kit and whilst similar in many respects to the kind of Cov kit we’ve been used to in recent years, it has a look of its own. I think supporters will be impressed – I certainly was. One of the key moans last year was that the shirt number on the back wasn’t very visible from the distance, something that would appear to have been addressed this season and the socks are particularly eye-catching.

It looks as if some of the items of clothing will have the players’ own initials on them, too, something which gives it a particularly professional look.

As for the squad itself, there are still another couple of players to arrive, but it will be a few weeks before we see them at Cov, although they have already signed. They have been playing overseas and their seasons have only just ended, so they need the break. However, because they won’t have been off quite so long, they should be able to hit the ground running and won’t be far behind, if at all, the levels of fitness that the rest of the squad will have reached by then.

RW did mention names but even if I could remember them, until they are officially announced it would be wrong for me to do so in the blog. Suffice to say, I rather got the impression that RW is looking forward to their arrival and they certainly won’t do anything other than add to the experience and talent of the squad already assembled.

One is a wing and the other a back row.

There’s also a new hooker by the look of it and there was at least one other player on trial.

There were a couple of players absent and I believe Jack Preece and Luke Narraway are on holiday, having both had extended seasons. The new players seemed to have slotted into training well and it was evident that there was an intensity there which was well above that of this time 12 months back when I went to watch the new squad train for the first time at the BPA.

DSC_0162I was particularly impressed by Phil Nilsen. There aren’t many players who can get away with wearing his wife’s jogging pants (allegedly), but he did, carrying it off with aplomb.

That wasn’t the only thing that impressed me about him, though. I understand it was his first training session with the rest of the squad but, after a quick ask of Louis Deacon, he was adding plenty of advice and support when the line-out was the focus.

And everyone listened…

He has a no nonsense approach to him and I got the sense that he was really enjoying the session.

Apparently a host of Championship sides and a few Premiership sides had approached Phil before he made the decision to come to Cov; he was a man very much in demand. I would imagine that in a few years time he’ll be another of the senior players who might look to coach on their retirement and if that is the case, then he’s come to the right club, a club that clearly is keen to develop its more senior players in that sort of role.

But it wasn’t just Phil Nilsen who was offering support. Both Sam Tuitupou and Latu Makaafi did something similar, albeit in a less demonstrative way. Even at this very early stage of the pre-season, both were talking to the younger players, offering a few words of advice as to how a particular routine could be approached.

It was really heartening to see and is something that the coaches must surely have been hoping for when they opted to recruit players with their experience. For the likes of Will Maisey to have Tuitupou at 12 ,or Olly Povoas have Latu Makaafi or Luke Narraway alongside him in the back row, must be a huge incentive and it can only benefit them individually and the club as a whole. I’m sure we’ll see the youngsters continue to improve with the involvement of these players on top of the support offered by the coaches.

There were a couple of players unable to train – Tom Jubb got a bit of a bump to the head on Saturday and decided to miss out on training yesterday just as a precaution, although he felt he would be  okay to return to training later in the week and Olly Povoas has a bit of a niggle, but again nothing serious.

There are also a handful of players who can’t train on a Monday because of work commitments – the likes of Phil Boulton, Andy Brown, Max Trimble and Tom Poole for example, but they’ll be at the evening sessions today and Thursday.

At the moment the Academy players are training alongside the 1st team squad but in a couple of weeks this will change so that the senior players will train separately so that they can better focus on their National 1 campaign, whilst at times still being around the more junior players  during the course of the week.

RW confirmed that it was the club’s intention to have double-headers most home games, with the Zoo League fixtures taking place at 12.30 on a Saturday, rather than running separate midweek fixtures.

I’m sure there will be many supporters who will relish the opportunity to see the Academy players, together with maybe one or two of the senior squad, play before the main even, especially as there are some really talented youngsters at the club now. With the cost of entrance to the National 1 fixture covering that of the Zoo League game as well, the club really are offering something of a BOGOF. The hope is that a couple of hundred or so supporters will arrive early to watch the opening game and, in so doing, buy a drink or two and maybe have something to eat – thereby bringing in additional revenue.

Makes good sense to me.

If that is the case, then there will need to be more food and drink outlets around the ground, especially food, as a 12.30 kick off would mean that those watching might well want to get a bite to eat as well. I understand there are already plans to increase considerably areas around the ground to buy a drink, something that’s been said in the past but hasn’t always come to fruition. I rather think that this might be different now…

 

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Those not involved in the 7s were put though some additional training at the end…

A quick shout out must go to James Stokes, too.

Those players who were involved in the 7s on Saturday were released a little early from yesterday’s training leaving the remaining players to compete some runs across the width of the field. Stokes decided to join in the final session, despite the heat and the fact that he wasn’t required to do so. It’s a reminder, I guess, that players who look as natural with the ball as James Stokes does at times still have to put in the hours of practice to make it look as easy as it sometimes does.

 

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First entry in the blog for Eminem and long overdue. Certainly a song to motivate and ideal for the gym…as if I’d know.

And whilst I’m sure Will Maisey won’t read this, it’s still incumbent on me to thank him for the offer of a lift from the ground to the station at Tile Hill.

Being fat and fifty (well 57 tbh) the move to the Massy Ferguson ground comes just at the right time for me.  I’ve set myself a goal of losing three stone before the end of August – 1 down, two to go and I’m on target. The walk there and back will definitely help. Fortunately, it’s uphill on the way there!

Cheers for the thought though, Will.

 

 

 

 

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