Club talk

RFU report shows Cov has lowest incidences of injury and best recovery rates in Tiers 2,3 and 4 of English rugby…and a cheeky visit to the BPA to watch Coventry United

In reviewing last season, one of the real positives that many Cov supporters were quick to pick up on was how few injuries there had been over the course of the campaign and how, in turn, this had allowed for a more consistent approach to selection, especially over the second half of the season. coinciding with better performances and improved results.

The coaches were able to select from pretty much a full squad for a lot of the time and there was far less reliance on loanees or dual registered players than we had seen the previous season.

In fact the season before Rowland Winter’s arrival, the situation was so desperate by week 10 that we’d had to bring in 7 players once the league campaign had officially begun (Tom Hicks, George Worth, Rory Hutchinson, Gaston Mieres, George Tressider, Tiploma Kivalu and Daniel Carpo) and selection became increasingly problematic. And whilst it wasn’t the reason why in the end the Board, and indeed the supporters, lost confidence in the management of the team, it certainly was a factor in a run of disappointing results that led to the announcement of the appointment of Rowland Winter in the January of 2016.

Fast forward four months, to May 2016, and from day one of the new regime a much greater emphasis on conditioning and rehab became immediately apparent. The work done by Rob Norman and the conditioning coaches in the summer of 2016 was essential in ensuring players took far more responsibility for their own fitness, whilst also making them more accountable as well. Close monitoring on all aspects of the players’ well-being, including diet, nutrition and general health issues, meant that come the start of the pre-season, the squad was far fitter and better prepared than in previous years.

Every player had been assessed to identify potential areas of physical weakness and injury and individual programmes developed to address them in an effort to minimise future problems. It was something RW alluded to in one of the initial forums back in 2016.

At the same time, as soon as any injury occurred, the team of physios, led by Hannah, took a much more proactive role. Individual health insurance meant that players who picked up injuries necessitating treatment could be seen immediately, without the delays experienced in previous seasons. Rehab was structured in such a way as to ensure that despite injury, players could still work out to prevent a loss of fitness, and loss of muscle tone in the unaffected areas of the body was kept to a minimum.

Both Rowland Winter and Jon Sharp have regularly referenced the fantastic work being done behind the scenes to keep players healthy and fit and, whilst it isn’t something that supporters take for granted, I don’t think many of us appreciate just what an important job is being done by the support teams to provide the players with everything they need to keep them playing wherever possible, whilst also ensuring the risk of injury in minimalised .

The work done on the treatment of head injuries, highlighted in a recent post in this blog, evidenced this to a certain extent (Concussion Testing – Cov well ahead of the game) but a recent RFU report shows unequivocally what an incredible job is being done at Cov to lesson injuries and improve recovery times.

The report, based on the 2016/17 season, focuses on ‘serious’ injuries suffered by players from all clubs in the Championship, National One and National Two, 60 teams all told.

From a Coventry perspective, its findings couldn’t be any more pleasing.

Of all the teams involved in the four divisions (counting Division Two as two, North and South) Coventry has the lowest incidence of ‘serious’ injury and, equally impressive, the fastest recovery rates.

If that isn’t testament to the work being done to support the players at Cov, then I’m not sure what is.

Jon Sharp and Rowland Winter took the decision to provide quality conditioning, rehabilitation and physiotherapy support from day one, knowing that it would pay for itself in the long run. Whilst no justification was ever needed, this RFU report does provide evidence of the positive impact it is having and as such  is something that should be celebrated by supporters.

Whilst I’m sure the support offered to players prior to RW’s arrival was more than adequate and on a par with other National One clubs, Rob Norman last season and Max Hartman this season, together with Hannah and her team, have transformed all aspects of support available to players. The areas of conditioning and rehab at Cov are, quite literally, second to none in the 4 leagues the RFU conducted their report – and that’s one heck of an achievement.

However, the survey did throw up one concern – the club also had the highest number of recorded concussions.

Taken at face value that is a worrying statistic and one that caused the club some initial concern, for obvious reasons, and could have resulted in areas such as the coaching of tackling/point of contact having to be revisited to see if there was anything in there which might be causing such an anomaly.

However, when the club looked more closely, the protocols in place to report and review incidents of concussion amongst players are among the best, if not the best, of any team in the any of the leagues involved in the RFU report, thus almost certainly accounting for the higher than normal number of incidences recorded.

The club’s drive to ensure players remain fit and healthy, and to look after their general well-being,  is something that should be celebrated. It has been a priority from day one of Rowland Winter’s arrival and several of the players arriving from the Championship or other National One sides have commented on just how professional the support is here, both physical and medical. It’s something that is easy to overlook when there are so few problems – more injuries with players taking longer than usual to recover and we’d soon be raising our concerns.

Many people have been involved in building up a support network that is doing a great job in ensuring Cov remains as competitive as possible and, whilst no one can guarantee there won’t be a rush of injuries at some point this season, what we do know is that, should that arise, then the care and support the players receive will be arguably the best on offer anywhere outside of the Premiership.

And that is great news…

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It was a last minute decision. No visitors, grandchildren notable by their absence and Sue happy to potter around in the garden…

Coventry United at home to Worcester City at the BPA.

No brainer really.

Midland Football League – Premier Division.

£7.00 to get in.

I know even less about football than I do about rugby and whilst I can just about fudge my way through the offside rule, there’s no point in me trying to comment of the game itself as I would be very quickly found out.

What I will say though is that it was a really entertaining game, including plenty of goal mouth incidents, occasional feisty exchanges and, with the home side winning 3-0 (the third Coventry United goal was an absolute corker) the crowsome 623 in total, left the ground happy (for the most part) and in good voice. Apparently this was a league record, according to the PA announcer, although I’m not sure whether that’s a Cov United league record or a record for the whole of the  MFL Premier Division.

I thought the attendance seemed  slighty above 623, especially when compared to the crowd on Saturday to watch the Cov v Rotherham game.  What really mattered though was that there were more than enough there to create a good atmosphere that got better as the game progressed. If Coventry United keep on winning games at home and play attractive football in the process, that record looks set to increase a fair few times this season.

It’s amazing how quickly you get used to watching football at the ground you’ve been attending rugby games since 2004. This was my second Cov United game of the season and already I’ve acclimatised…if you don’t travel to the away games, or there are games that don’t clash in the weeks where Cov are at home too, then I’d thoroughly recommend taking in a game or two.

I didn’t recognise anyone there as being a regular at the rugby games, although that’s not to say there weren’t one or two there. I do think it might be worth looking into offering Cov season ticket holders a discount on the cost of entry, and vice versa, as at the moment there doesn’t appear to be any cross over between the two codes at all. It might be a way of getting a few more through the turnstiles and whilst in itself it wont generate a huge amount of revenue for the respective clubs, if you add on drinks and bar food then you’ll easily recoup your ‘losses’ (although if they weren’t going to come otherwise, it’s all profit really).

The main bar at half time

The bar was busy, but it was very well staffed and there certainly weren’t long queues at half time that so frustrate Cov supporters on a rugby weekend. Yesterday was a scorcher, so I rather imagine the bar takings will have shown a healthy increase on anticipated figures. There was also someone walking around with a bin bag during the game picking up litter, including plastic pint containers and burger boxes and as a result the amount of litter was kept to a minimum.

One thing I was particularly impressed by was a free pocket guide that was handed out at the kiosk where the tickets were being sold. The guide is different to the usual match day programme that is for sale at £1,50, and which is very much focused on that week’s game – instead, the pocket guide provides lots of interesting information about the club which wouldn’t otherwise be readily available…and from cover to cover it’s 40 pages in all.

It’s also glossy and very well presented, in colour and with plenty of photos. It’s altogether an impressive little booklet – and the fact that it is pocket-sized means it’s something that supporters are probably going to keep with them.

It doesn’t look cheap at all and with very little advertising in it, something which can detract from the overall content sometimes, it’s really innovative. The back page even invites supporters to contact the club should they want more copies.

Hopefully, the pages below might give you a sense of what it is about – I just felt it was a great idea and something that could be further developed by including a fixture list, a squad list and so on. It wouldn’t have to be available from the first game but once handed out  I do think it is something that would be valued by spectators. I suppose the argument might be that this is no substitute for a good club website, which might well be a valid one if this kind of information was available on it.

It certainly went down well with supporters.

A nice touch…

The Pocket Guide even contains a bird’s eye view of the ground

 

 

Having talked glowingly of the way in which the scoreboard was used in the last Cov United post, this time round it wasn’t working at all, and with no other clock visible it was a pain not knowing how many minutes of the game remained/had elapsed. Otherwise it was all good. There was plenty of cheering and the odd burst of song, as well as some banter with the players, but all of it good-natured. It would be an ideal place to bring a young child as an introduction to live footie.

Safe and secure and welcoming.

Over the last three days the Butts has seen two games of rugby on the Saturday, a ladies’ match on the Sunday and a full Cov United  game on the Monday. The pitch looked fine come the end of the Monday game and appears to have stood up to the additional usage very well, although the weather has been kind over the weekend.

What we have seen over the last three days is very much the vision that Jon Sharp offered us a while back – the Butts as a multi-sport stadium which is used by the community, whilst also providing much needed revenue to the club to augment the coffers available to support the no 1 priority, Championship rugby and beyond.

Of course this weekend has been but a taste of how the Arena could be used and until the club is able to put down an artificial surface, there are obvious limitations. It will happen one day, but at the moment, whilst the club is close to breaking even, it can’t keep  relying  on the generosity of the Chairman and others to keep the club viable financially. The sooner it has the funds, topped up by grants, to put down that artificial surface, the better – once that happens we far more masters of our own destiny than at present.

It appears that for the Moseley game there will be at least 3, or even four, additional places around the outside of the ground where drinks will be sold. Much depends on the size of the crowd on the day, but it is clear that the club has responded to the criticism it attracted after the last home encounter against Mose, although in fairness no one could have foreseen just how big the crowd might be, or at least done so in time to respond to the obvious problems such numbers would cause.

If we do reach close to that 2712 figure again in a couple of weeks time, then it’s still going to be extremely busy, but at least every effort is being made to provide supporters with as good a service as is possible, given the exceptional circumstances.

But that’s for a post nearer the time.

Yesterday afternoon was really enjoyable  and I’ll certainly be back at the BPA to watch Coventry United again before too long. Even if football’s not your thing, it’s well worth popping over to one of the United home games just to get a feel of what it’s like. It’s not overly expensive to go and if Cov United continue on their winning ways, it won’t be too long before gates are getting close to the 1000 mark – and a 1000 football fans are certainly more inclined to create a livelier atmosphere than a 1000 rugby fans.

Hope, I’m there to see that.

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I’ve included a few photos from yesterday afternoon – I didn’t take my camera, instead relying on my phone. so there is quite a loss of quality in these.  Apologies in advance:

[video width=”720″ height=”1280″ mp4=”https://coventryrugby.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/20170826_121110.mp4″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 replies »

  1. Returning to your medical points, i was concerned about Newbolds 3, who didnt move for several minutes, then came off with physio. Later on returning to the fray and carry on playing. I hope his injury was not head related.

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    • Yes, he didn’t look too clever for a while although I didn’t see the incident leading up o his injury. You’d hope the support team would be on the ball and pulled him out of the had it been a head injury…

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  2. Tim, I think you and readers of your blog will be interested to know that the key focus for the Supporters’ Club spend at the moment is on the refurbishment and redevelopment of the Medical Room. When that is complete, we are looking to sponsor the bibs which the medical staff will wear on match days.
    When that project is complete we will be closely examining the situation in respect of the clock and scoreboard with a view to having something which is much better, more reliable and more viewable. There are many avenues to be explored in this connection, and we will be asking for quotes and looking at all options.
    Then the next items on our list will be to have an upgrade of the Honours Board in the bar and to re-visit the “buy a brick” fund raising effort.

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    • Fantastic Cliff…. all areas that have needed addressing for a while. No one in the SC would question the Committee helping out in this way…great news. I’m sure Hannah and her team must be delighted.

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  3. If I have a critism this year over the facilities it is regard to the score board and clock.
    I know that obtaining a sponsor for the present unit was difficult, but I do think that this is an area where the club needs to put a bit of effort. IT really makes us loo amateurish especially the last home friendly when the score and time were indecipherable.
    The club should either fix the present unit or look at a replacement ASAP.

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    • Looks like the SC has it in hand judging by Cliff’s response! The scoreboard isn’t really fit for purpose and Cov United has shown how it could be used. You’re right to single it out for criticism. Hopef

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  4. Tim, I popped along to the ladies game on Sunday. I was impressed with the fitness, skill and determination on show. A pleasant way to spend a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday – not many watching but hopefully the numbers for both the ladies and the mens teams will increase during the season.

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    • Hi Martin… that’s on my list of to-dos! Provided the pitch holds up this season, having the Butts used in this way makes perfect sense. Just15 games a season at the BPA doesn’t make a great deal of financial sense.

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