I can guarantee, categorically, that Coventry Rugby Club will win English National One this season.
And they will do so without Rowland Winter at the helm.
In fact it will be me who leads them to promotion.
Okay, it might not be THE English National One and I might not be DoR of THE Coventry Rugby Club, but even so, under my guidance Cov will get promoted.
In fact I have already led Coventry to a crushing 63-0 defeat of Leicester Lions in the first of the pre-season friendlies as I mirror Cov’s season, game-by-game, using Alternative Software’s ‘Rugby Union Team Manager 2017’.
RW had better watch out – I’ve put together a very similar squad to the current one, but under my leadership they are already looking like odds-on promotion favourites. I’m going to do a Hartpury this season, mark my words…unbeaten all season and every National One scoring record broken.
Rugby Union Team Manager describes itself as ‘The Number 1 Rugby Union Management Game’ and for those of you who have come across the Championship Manager series of football management sims, it’s very much a similar format, with plenty of depth to it, including a detailed transfer market, manager profiles , player progression, an interactive Board, a 3D match engine, manager progression and the chance to improve your club’s facilities.
The software includes the Super Championship and New Zealand, South African and Australian first and second divisions, the French and Irish Leagues and the Aviva, Championship, National One and Two (N and S) leagues, so it is fairly comprehensive. Whilst players names aren’t accurate, you can edit your team so that you are playing with exactly the same squad as the the club you’re representing, and you can even include details regarding weight, height and facial features (which I haven’t got round to yet!)…
…And, of course, you can also edit each players stats as well, which is precisely the reason why I know I will have the league wrapped up by Christmas whilst Rowland Winter might have to take it to the wire before determining whether his current squad are good enough to take their place in the Championship next season.
Okay, it’s cheating, but no one will ever know….
Take Jack Preece for instance – without doubt he’s going to be one of the star players in National One and the coaches will doubtless help him develop his game even further.
A week with me though and despite being in National One, his skills set is already that of an international player – and a gold star one at that. By the end of the pre-season he’ll be world class and despite offers from all the Premiership sides, he’ll stay with Cov for the next couple of seasons until we’re in the Premiership and Jon Sharp (who is also my Chairman) is able to develop his stadium into one to match the Man Uniteds and Arsenals of the footballing world.
The squad is beginning to take shape nicely, although I have yet to add the Academy players. I’ve still got some work to do with the forwards, with Tom Jubb the next in line to benefit from the strict training schedule I’ve put in place.
The backs are looking particularly strong with Will Maisey, Tony Fenner, Pete White, all world class even at this early stage of the season and the back row of Luke Narraway, Waila Setu and Brett Daynes (deserved so) are also performing at the same level, although Latu Makaafi is only producing the kinds of performances that make him an international, so questions will have to be asked in this next one-2-one meeting with the coaches at the end of the week.
I’ve included below my training rota for the next two weeks, although I appreciate this isn’t the wisest of moves given there might well be members of the coaching teams of a number of National One rivals aware of the squad I’m building and anxious to learn how it is that players are performing at such high levels. I’m not too concerned though…knowing the schedule is one thing, being able to work it is another.
I’m finding it really tough to narrow it down to just a couple of additional activities and will look perhaps to include rucking and an emphasis on the Blitz in the following two week cycle….
Strangely, Olly Povoas is registered as Portuguese – I’ll need to check this, I’m not sure how that slipped through the system, maybe a chat with the team manager might be in order…I’ll speak to Tony later.
At just 21, he’s already the most valuable player in the squad, together with Harry Morley and I’ve had a couple of offers for him from Premiership sides even in this opening week of the pre-season friendlies.
Whilst £36,000 is a decent amount Olly is going nowhere – at 102 kgs (!!!) he’ll probably need to lose a bit of weight but his attitude, at 97% is exemplary and with a click of a couple of keys he’ll lose a stone or two in .readiness for the next game.
I’ve managed to retain most of the current Board (it only allows me to have 3 board members!) as well as many of the coaches guessed . I’ve had to guess at some of the ages (without offending anyone, I hope!!!). Some of the posts have been filled by the software as I wasn’t sure of the club doctor’s name and I have no idea of the club’s scouting arrangements.
The first game, against Leicester Lions was hugely satisfying with the team looking extremely strong, even at this early stage of the season. Selection wasn’t easy as I could only choose the starting 15 and 8 subs, somewhat different to the 45ish used last week by RW.
It was very tough but in the end I went for any player who had commented on anything to do with the blog, liked a tweet or better still followed me on Twitter, and including anyone who had said hello at training sessions if I was short on players. It seemed the most efficient way of selecting the side and if two players were vying for the same position then I’ve decided to rotate next week.
This makes it somewhat harder for the new players coming in this season, but I’m sure RW will address this in his training sessions as good social awareness is important in team building anyway.
On the coaching front, I was very disappointed to only be deemed worthy of a one star rating, but having got together a squad of very good professionals and turned them into world beaters in the space of just 5 days, I feel confident that my standing will increase considerably by Christmas, provided of course that England don’t come calling.
In the opening pre-season game against Leicester Lions, so dominant were the 15 who started the game that there was no need to use any substitutions at all (helped by the fact that the game was played in the space of 90 seconds or so as I used the option to speed up play!) – I’ll need to rethink my use of the ‘finishers’ in the next game as I don’t want my players getting restless because they aren’t getting enough game time.
That said, any dissent in the ranks will not be tolerated.
Latu Makaafi was the official ‘Man of the Match’ in the Lions game, scoring a hatrick of tries and justifying his position in the team ahead of both Preece and Setu…although I’m not sure I’ll use him in the next couple of games as I’ll want him fresh for Moseley.
I did have to make some difficult decisions during the course of the game and was particularly pleased with the way the set pieces worked. The image above shows a particularly successful training ground move (2nd from the right, bottom row) which led directly to a Tom Wheatcroft try and it is one that is sure to feature heavily in the August ‘Try of the Month’ competition.
It was a promising performance given it is so early in the season and one that I’m sure the team will replicate against Nuns on Wednesday…whilst it doesn’t pay to be too confident, I am certain that my squad will achieve promotion at the first attempt.
If by any chance there is a wobble at any stage I’ll have to return to the editor and manipulate those stats a little more…err, I mean spend a little more time developing their skills on the training ground.
As you can see from the final image, there’s still quite a way to go in terms of improving the facilities, both on the business and rugby fronts. However, I am confident that this is something we can work on once attendances improve and money comes rolling in. Either that or I can increase the amount of sponsorship with a couple of nifty clicks.
The facilities need a lot of work on them, but I’m sure Jon Sharp will be prepared to develop the ground a little quicker than was originally intended when he sees the team produce the sort of results that I’m expecting from the very first whistle of the new campaign.
As I indicated at the start, I’m confident that I can lead the squad into the Championship, although my only worry is that I might struggle somewhat to keep my players together for the next 9 months – there will be some big clubs a-calling before too long and the Board might be willing to sell some of the club’s stars in order to finance the expansion of the ground and its facilities.
Still, it’s all part and parcel of the role of DoR…and even if I say so myself, I’ve made a pretty good stab at it so far.
Thank goodness for the Game Editor…otherwise it would be National 2 rugby next season for Cov.
On 19th August Cov have a double header at the BPA, with Broadstreet on first followed by Sale at 3.00 pm
That much I already knew.
However, yesterday afternoon I spent a happy couple of hours in the company of the family, with my two daughters there, together with Jessica who is the youngest of our grandchildren at just 17 months.
And I also found out that the 19th is significant for another reason.
Before I go on to explain what exactly that reason is, I should point out that my granddaughter happens to have ginger hair.
Whilst this might seems an odd thing to include, it is pertinent as I will explain. However, I should though that I love Jessica’s hair as I love her and it suits her and her personality wonderfully well. There is no one else in the family on my side with hair that is remotely ginger or even red, so it makes her all the more special.
But it did cause something of a family upset yesterday.
When Charlie, my daughter and Jessica’s mum, explained that the 19th, the day of the Sale game, was National Orang-utan Day I thought she was puling my leg. Even more so when she explained that all redheads have free entry to Twycross Zoo that day.
In all seriousness, she asked me if I’d like to come along with her and Jessica- I could even wear a red wig myself to get in for free.
Cost: FREE for red-heads. To clarify – this is hair on the top of your head: natural red-hair, died red hair or red wigs. For others it’s normal Zoo admission, pay on the door
I thought she was getting her own back for some of the very occasional tricks I might have played on in the past. Little did I know she was being serious.
So she wasn’t that impressed when I snubbed her invitation, explained I’d much rather go to the rugby and pointed out that there was no way I’d be seen with red hair, which admittedly was a little tactless of me given the situation.
Fortunately, my wife stepped in and, putting all her diplomacy skills to the test, (finally tuned, I might add, as a result of being married to me for so long), she diffused the situation and arranged for me to take everyone to the zoo, (paying the full entry price obviously), on a different day…
My mistake – but an expensive one, nevertheless.
Saturday 19th – National Orang-utan Day.
I think Cov should wear amber-coloured armbands that day in support of orang-utans worldwide…
…and have oranges at half time.