Confused of Coventry…and Moseley’s pre-season finale
I’m confused. and it’s all of my own making.
Happily so, if that doesn’t seem too much of a paradox, but confused nonetheless.
This is probably very much one of those ‘me’ things again. And in explaining my confusion, the risk of exasperating others at my apparent inability to understand the blindingly obvious is a risk I’ll have to take.
It all stems from a post on the official website announcing the latest drive by the club to attract local businesses to invest in Cov, namely the setting up of a Vice-Presidents’ Club.
Good news again as far as developing partnerships with the local business community is concerned, and yet another example of the way the club is building up it’s off-field links to support its ultimate on-field goal of Championship rugby and beyond.
All good so far.
But here is where I’ve got myself befuddled….
Early on, the post states that:
The Butts Park Arena….which has strengthened its playing squad to launch a serious campaign for promotion to the Championship next season
It is vital that we put together a determined drive for promotion next season and I believe we have assembled a squad and infrastructure under director of rugby Rowland Winter that can do it
I read the first statement as suggesting that the squad has been strengthened, ready for a serious campaign this season with the intention of playing Championship rugby next season. (You might need to re-read it now!).
It’s hard to read that any other way really, as you don’t strengthen a playing squad this season necessarily to make the attempt next season, as there will be another round of recruitment before then…? ‘Strengthening is on-going’, maybe, but not ‘strengthened’ as finite.
See, I am my own worst enemy at times. Clear as crystal to everyone else. As mud to me.
However, the second statement seems pretty unequivocal; whatever else you might read or hear, as a club we are expecting the serious challenge to come next season:
It is vital that we put together a determined drive for promotion next season.
Definitely nothing remotely confusing about that, so any obfuscation is entirely of my own making.
Unless of course ‘this’ season is ‘next’ season because we’re only in the ‘pre’-season…or promotion next season actually means being in the Championship next season and promoted this season?
And here then is the root of the problem, I always manage to see things in a different light to everyone else, so much so that I end up confusing myself. If there’s an alternative way of seeing things then I’ll find it.
In my head, it’s blindingly obvious that the club has decided that with the calibre of squad it has amassed, with no relegated Championship side in the mix and with no other potential Hartpury’s in the frame, this is our best chance yet to play our way into the Championship. So the serious challenge will be this season.
In my head, remember.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Although no mention of a promotion challenge this season has been made officially by the club during pre-season, it’s something that I think most supporters believed would be very much part of Rowland Winter’s brief over the coming months, although at no point has he suggested this is so.
Indeed, Rowland Winter and the coaches have, publicly at least, gone out of their way to indicate that promotion into the Championship is a three or even four year project, with the aim very much at the moment being to create a squad capable of making a sustained challenge at some point in the future. There has been no indication that this season would be anything other than a further progression towards that ultimate goal, with no time frame attached.
For the most part, it’s the supporters who have fuelled the speculation that Coventry is targeting a move into the second tier of English rugby this season; or should be. Hardly a surprise given the number of big-name signings that were brought during the close season.
Having had so many disappointments in previous years, the successful second half of last season, along with the belief that the coaching team, even without Boris Stankovich, is shaping a side this season that is already producing some eye-catching performances, has convinced many of the Cov faithful that this could be our year.
The club very wisely hasn’t made any comment as to this being the case and seems to have been careful not to fan the flames of expectation by making any comment that might be taken as a green light for such a bid.
So I guess I was a little surprised to read that in fact the serious attempt would be next season – which is actually pretty encouraging. Without getting too carried away by what we’ve seen already this season, as well as the run-in to the end of the last, I think it’s pretty safe to assume Cov are going to be up there in the mix come the end April 2018…I’ve said top two, others top three, some that we’re promotion favourites already.
If the real push comes next season, then it really is an exciting couple of seasons in the offing for Coventry. I think it’s a fair bet to assume that if Cov doesn’t end up top of the shop in April, there will be several more exciting additions to the squad for the 2018/19 season, in readiness for that ‘determined drive for promotion next season’.
And that’s bound to add to the excitement 12 months on.
So either way, unless the wheels really fall off over the coming few months, we can expect the push for Championship rugby to last possibly all of this season and probably the next as well.
And that’s happy days as far as I’m concerned.
And Cov has, yet again, been pretty smart in the way it’s handled the growing levels of expectation amongst Cov supporters. Nothing other than business as usual, with further comments to the effect that Cov is still very much a work in progress. It’s all about getting everything in place, especially the infrastructure and finance, before going all out for Championship rugby and this isn’t going to be a season that will be dominated by talk of promotion from the first game in September.
The eggs will remain spread across several baskets for this season at least…and by the sound of it as couple more as well.
It certainly takes a little bit of pressure off the players, and indeed the coaches, and if a couple of results don’t go our way early on, well it’s all about getting ourselves in a position over the course of the whole season to mount a serious challenge for promotion in 2019.
At least that’s how I’ve decide to interpret the wording of the Vice Presidents’ Club announcement – until the next time I read it when doubtless I’ll get myself tangled up in knots again.
It’s all been handled, dare I say it, extremely professionally. Players and coaches are all in unison, supported by the board. That’s not to say that behind closed doors a decision won’t have been made by the club to give it their best shot and see how things look at Christmas – but that’s different from saying from the onset that we’re definitely making promotion our aim this season.
What I should add though is that the club seem to be turning over many of the stones that in previous seasons were left unturned in order to promote the club as an attractive venue for local businesses, both to use in the promotion of their activities, as well as support those of the club.
The unveiling of the new Vice-Presidents’ Club is one such example.
Anyone who has supported Cov for any length of time will surely warm to John Sharp’s description in the announcement of Coventry being:
….the genuine and historic home of rugby in the city and in the close season we have been strengthening our squad to make a serious challenge for promotion.
whilst also acknowledging the challenges posed by Wasps’ arrival in the city a couple of seasons back.
If Coventry is to be successful on the pitch, then it needs to be just as successful off it and it is abundantly clear that the club is doing all it can to bring in the local community, including businesses, to work with it to achieve the success everyone is hoping for.
‘The club that represents the city by name’ is a brilliant tagline and one that might well become a regular mantra of those connected with the marketing of the club.
It has a bit of a RONSEAL feel to it for me.
Here’s hoping the Vice-President’s Club is a resounding success.
Other than on a couple of weekends a season, I always feel a great affinity towards Moseley. I even lived there when my children were very young and have watched a good few games over the years at Billesley Common and, before that, Birmingham University and The Reddings.
Dare I say it, I even follow their results quite closely, pop over to their website every now and again and follow their supporters’ forum with great interest. I’d love them to do well this season – second would be ideal, one position behind Cov, of course.
It was, then, with a little disappointment that I read that Moseley’s pre-season preparations have been derailed somewhat by the cancellation of their final friendly, at home against Carmathen Quins.
It appears the game was arranged prior to the release of the Principality Premiership fixtures – the first round of which takes place this Saturday, when Quins travel to Llanelli.
As a result, Stourbridge has kindly agreed to step in, but only as part of a joint training session, prior to a ‘Meet the Players’ BBQ immediately afterwards.
That must be something of a blow to Moseley as the loss of a competitive game the weekend before the National One season kicks off. It can’t be ideal preparation for their home game the following week against an Ampthill side that are tipped as one of the front runners in National One this season.
Tough as the game against Rotherham will be, it will give Cov that competitive edge going into their opening game at Hull that Mose might well lack, with only the two games in total before the cancellation. Having had a confidence boosting win against Worcester last Friday, I’m sure they would have relished the opportunity to play Carmathen this weekend.
And to finish, for anyone who hasn’t seen the highlights of that impressive Moseley win against the Warriors – here they are (thanks to Paul Ingleston for forwarding it).
Sam Hollingsworth is heavily involved in Moseley’s final score…
🎥 Check out the action from Friday's game with Birmingham Moseley. pic.twitter.com/wHkNWsqTyA— Worcester Warriors 🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) August 18, 2017