Club talk

Meet The Players and Coaches – (HIGH!) High hopes we have for the future…

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight

Sister Sledge – We Are Family

Yesterday’s ‘Meet the Players’ event at the BPA was such a great success, and for so many reasons, that any Cov supporter of a number of years’ standing must have left the ground at its conclusion wondering why on earth the club hadn’t done something similar in previous years.

Certainly that was the case with me.

It’s such an obvious thing to do…and yet Cov, being Cov, hadn’t had the vision of someone like Rowland Winter to rely on, nor had it encouraged the development of a Supporters’ Club to work alongside it to help in the organisation of such an event…

…which is why, I believe, it failed to develop a feeling of real trust between itself and its supporters for so long and why, as a result, I always felt as if I was merely a supporter of a rugby club rather than part of a family of Cov supporters.

Something which I do now.

And there is a big difference between the two.

Yesterday wasn’t really about the rugby itself, indeed there was very little mention during the day of the forthcoming  season and the growing belief, even amongst the more cautious of Cov fans, that the club will mount a sustained challenge for the title over the coming months.

No, yesterday was more about Cov reaching out to its supporters to present a clear message that it wants to be seen very much as a family club, one with a fan base that isn’t skewed towards the over 50s and where young families are particularly welcome.

Cohesion and engagement – two words sum up what yesterday was all about.

It was very much a day for the youngsters.

And how welcome is that.

As I stood on the sidelines and witnessed the happy, smiling faces of so many of the children involved in the various activities taking place in and around the ground, I couldn’t help but think back to 25 plus years ago when I used to bring Sam along to matches.

There was no pre-season, no opportunity to watch the players other than at the pre-match warm up. If a player smiled or said a hello, it was something which would be remembered for weeks afterwards.

As a six or seven year old, Sam would have loved the opportunity to be lifted in a lineout by the likes of Tom Poole and Andy Brown or taught how to place kick by Tony Fenner or Will Maisey …

Richard Angell or Mark Lakey – heroes, yes. But not heroes from a distance. A signature or a photo maybe, but little else.

At least not for us.

If ever you want to ensure that youngsters remain loyal to the club…then days like yesterday are the way to do it.

Yes, of course, when I watched the session of tag rugby that started the event off, the sight of Latu Makaafi or Sam Tuitupou with ball in hand certainly created that added feeling off excitement with regard to the forthcoming season…but they weren’t the abiding memories of the day.

No, they were very much reserved for the images of the kids involved in the gladiator run, side-stepping Max Titchener and then crashing through the bags held by Olly Povoas and Niles Dacres or the youngsters being given a masterclass in place kicking by Ben Palmer.

That was what the day was really about…intentionally or otherwise, there will be kids from yesterday who will overnight have become the next generation of Cov supporters as a result of what they experienced.

And almost as memorable for me was the likes of Sam Tuitupou and Phil Nilsen with their families, clearly enjoying the day and as much a part of the Cov family as any of the other young mums and dads who had brought their children along – or grandchildren in one or two cases.

There was one lovely moment when James Stokes was walking across the pitch hand in hand with Sam Tuitupou’s son (eek, I think it was his son and not daughter!) with Sam nowhere in sight – both chatting away to each other. It was one of those abiding memories where actually rugby is very much secondary to the feeling of unity and togetherness that was unfolding in front of us.

Just as the children, and the mums dads, seemed to enjoy it, so did the players. There was no awkwardness or players chatting in groups away from the supporters, they seemed to be happy to talk to anyone and everyone and, whilst I’m sure they had been asked to mingle, they clearly enjoyed the opportunity.

It was a good turnout, too. It would have been good to have had even more, but prior to the day it was impossible to know just how many might attend. I’m sure some of those involved in the organisation of the day might have had a couple of sleepless nights beforehand, but they needn’t have worried…the skies remained bright for most of the event and there were plenty there to make all the hard work that had gone into preparing the day worthwhile.

That said, there was one significant downer for me as far as they day was concerned and that centres around the new kit.

Let me start by saying that I genuinely think both the home and away kits look very impressive  – and gone is the concern over the numbering on the back which appears much clearer on this season’s shirts. I happen to like the away strip as much as the home, although the consensus seems to be more inclined to prefer the blue strip.

So where’s the problem?

Well, my body shape really. I kind of knew that a Large wasn’t going to be big enough…I’d resigned myself to that. What I hadn’t expected was that when I tried on an XL I still looked like the Michelin Man and, in truth, I had to squeeze myself into the shirt.

And, as I desperately tugged the shirt off over my head, there was the clear sound of a splitting seam – I hastily returned the top to the rack in the hope that no one had heard. And to be fair, it was only a St Helens replica top… 🙂

I was, and still am, devastated – 8 weeks of dieting, 27lbs lost and the anticipation of at last being able to actually wear a shirt this season without looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy, all blown away in 60 seconds of anger and frustration.

I’m only just over 13 and a half stone now  – yet I would have had to opt for an XXL. It was made all the worse by my son, Sam, slipping comfortably into a Large.

A couple of inches taller he maybe, but there will be a time, even for him, when everything goes south and boy will I gloat then…

So no rugby top again this season. I’ll definitely go for a couple of polo shirts though, as hopefully they’ll be fine…but fair play to O’Neills, its range of kit is excellent and certainly everything seems far more organised than in the recent past.

I just wish the modern trend wasn’t for quite such tight and clingy tops…they’re not something I model that well.

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

With no training next week, it’s going to be fairly quiet on the Cov front I feel. However, it looks like the two South Sea Islanders will be arriving soon and it appears Cov have also snapped up a couple of players previously on trial…one of whom looked particularly impressive on the couple of occasions I’ve seen him in training. I’m sure there will be an official squad update before too long…

I also think Nigel Harrison mentioned in his running commentary of the tag rugby opener that one of the players out on the pitch during the tag rugby sessions was a Turkish international…now there’s a first. Can’t wait to see that up on the ‘Internationals’ board…

It will be a quiet week blog wise I expect, but I am intending to run a competition for anyone interested, with a cup as first prize – it won’t go down well with the purists, but it might create a bit of pre-season interest for those who take up the offer…more of that to follow.

A big thank you to everyone at Cov involved in the ‘Meet the Players and Coaches’  event and to those in the Supporters’ Club who were also involved.

Hopefully, given its success, it will become an annual event…

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

Just a quick poll, really to put an end to a discussion I was having with Sam yesterday, one that concerns the Cov shirts. Had I bought one, I was contemplating having a number put on the back and was debating with Sam as to which it should be…so here’s the thing…

…were you to buy a Cov shirt and have a number put on the back, which one would you choose? It might just be a favourite number, the result of a favourite player in the past or present, or the position you played in yourself. Whatever the reason, I just wondered what the most popular choice of number on the back of a Cov shirt would be…

Please do take the time just to complete the poll – I’ll publish the results next week.

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

After yesterday, more than ever before:

We are family…

I’ve actually used it once before…but hey, when a song’s that good…

 

 

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9 replies »

  1. Hi Tim,
    The boy in the picture is my nine year old son. scchairman is absolutely right, the club has developed a unique bond with young supporters. My son is fanatical about Coventry Rugby Club and much of the credit for the close relationship between players and the next generation of supporters goes to Matt Price and the players involved in the community camps past and present, where the juniors have built a genuine bond with the players in a safe and fun environment.
    But it goes beyond that, I can recall on one occasion following a game my son struck up a conversation with Callum McBurnie who, unprompted, took him round the bar and got every player to sign his programme.
    Just last week, Will Maisey was guest speaker at my elder son’s sports prize evening – after the formal element Will stayed for the bbq to chat with pupils and parents and on Saturday made a point of coming over to say hello to us all – my older son won his crossbar challenge, so something is rubbing off!
    More…er…senior clubs (both round and oval ball) perhaps lack this common touch and instead rely on star aura to generate fan loyalty. Long may CRFC and the Supporters Club keep doing it the right way!

    On another note, is it possible to get hold of a copy of the picture please? I suspect he would like it on his bedroom wall!

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    • Hi Adam, I’m sure both Cliff Bennett, SCChairman, and the club will be delighted if they get to read your comments, as would Jon Sharp. Rowland Winter seems to have brought the club and its supporters together in a way that previous DoRs had either failed, or possibly been reluctant do…
      Matt Price and his team obviously deserve plenty of credit, too, and hopefully we’ll see an increase in the number of youngsters coming through the turnstiles on top of a general rise in attendances.

      Can you confirm which photo it is you’d like sent…always happy to do so but just a bit wary of sending you the wrong one!

      Congratulations to your lad for winning the crossbar challenge…another 10 in the making, hopefully!

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      • Hi Tim, sorry I was a bit vague! He is the lad in the line out photo…out jumping Nile Dacres. He has wanted to do that ever since he first saw Danny Wright in a line out, so he is one happy lad 😄

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  2. Yes, Tim ,agree, it was a great thing. We popped in for an hour or so, mainly to sort out trying and sorting next seasons kit (had to order an XL, boo), but atmosphere was lovely, great to see the players interacting so well with everyone. Left with a warm glow. Just a lttle thought that struck me. I’m only just old enough to remember, but it feels a bit like when Jimmy Hill came to Sky Blues, and created this family type feeling, bit of a visionary……………..just a feeling I got, that’s all.

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    • Hi Roger – it seems the size issue has caused a few frustrations with other supporters too,judging by the messageboard. You’d think that clothing manufacturers would have a better idea of the average body shape, especially amongst ageing rugby supporters! I’m not a Coventrian, nor am I a Cov City supporter, so I’m not really qualified to comment, although by all accounts he was much loved by all in involved with the club – it’s probably asking a bit too much for RW and JS to bring anything close to the sort of success City enjoyed under JH.
      We’ve certainly made a great start though…!

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  3. Hi Tim, Thanks very much for such a positive review of yesterday’s event. Quite honestly, it exceeded our expectations and, crucially, achieved exactly what we had planned for. And you’re right, it clearly was the first of what will be a permanent fixture each year in the summer. Most particularly rewarding was the player’s involvement in the on-field exercises with children who, by definition and as you say, will overnight become the Coventry Rugby supporters of the future. I think we can pat ourselves on the back and say “Job done”. I thought that the first picture which you posted yesterday evening, of a youngster being hoisted aloft in a line out with his arms outstretched to catch the ball, demonstrated perfectly the bond with supporters which the players worked hard to create, and the obvious confidence in that lad’s body language shows clearly how that bond is so vital as the future of Coventry Rugby. Cliff.

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    • A job very well done indeed, Cliff! Yes – that photo is a metaphor in many ways for what is currently happening at Cov – on the shoulders of giants, so-to-speak. However, to be even more effective it should really have been the youngsters lifting the players (!!!), given they are very much the future of the club and are starting to already provide the foundations on which the club will prosper…

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      • I think that lifting Tom Poole might have been a challenge too far for my lad but maybe this time next year….

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  4. I agree Tim. It was a good event and plenty of opportunity to speak to the players if you’re that way inclined. Great for the next generation of supporters too. We NEED to encourage children into supporting cov rugby before they are snapped up elsewhere.

    Good to see you too. Looking forward to hearing about these (even more) new signings!

    Like

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