Club talk

What do points make?

Rome was not built in a day
Opposition will come your way
But the harder the battle you see
Is the sweeter the victory, girl
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try and you’ll succeed at last

Jimmy Cliff – You Can Get It If You Really Want

It was something of a surreal experience on Saturday…

…me at one end of a phone tapping away a commentary of sorts on the Hull game and some 130 miles away someone else doing something similar for the Development Team v Cambridge 2nd XV game  over at Broadstreet.

After years of talking about it, at last we have two teams running concurrently and, on top of that, supporters sharing live updates. It was a really strange experience, but one that was immensely enjoyable and there was plenty of interest amongst those who’d travelled to Hull in the events unfolding down at Binley Woods.

For many clubs in National One, I guess running more than one side is the norm; several sides feeding into the each other and hopefully producing some home grown players who’ll go on to play first team rugby.

Not so Cov.

Until now.

And we’ll be all the more competitive for it.

Indeed, we already are…with many of those players on the fringe of selection into the match day squad having regular games alongside each other and against opposition that over the whole season will be, at times, extremely challenging. No need now for them to be loaned out to junior sides, to be called back as and when.

One club, one direction…

Certainly no ‘Temporary Fix’ (and that one’s for all you Directioners).

A big thank you to Warren L and Dave D (minus B, M and T) for the updates and huge apologies to those following the tweets from Hull…with 20 minutes to go, and just before Cov when on something of a tryfest, the signal disappeared.

That’s the first time it’s happened and hopefully the last, but I do appreciate how frustrating that must have been.

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I always get a little anxious on the Sunday morning of an away game weekend as I tend to post something on the game early on the Sunday morning, before any official report appears. I am always a little worried in case what I say is in complete opposition to the official line and I’ve totally misread the game. Fortunately, this weekend at least, I managed to call it about right, with RW suggesting that:

It’s a good starting point for next week, but we were only maybe 50, 60, 70 per cent and we need to kick on again.

I wasn’t concerned early on because we’ve got plenty of experience and leaders who can calm that group down, pinpoint areas for us to work on and make sure that we grind our way back. Those forward drives were outstanding to get us back in front, it is a real weapon, and we grew in confidence and took control of the game

There were certainly areas that will need working on but if the feeling in the camp is that the performance on Saturday was maybe only 50 or 60% of what this squad is capable of producing, then I can’t wait to see the game that we play to our full potential.

(Please, God, let it be next Saturday…).

And the most pleasing aspect of the Hull game and those of the pre-season games, other than those against the Championship sides, is that even though we played within ourselves to some extent, with experimental sides and with the numerous changes involved, Coventry scored a shed load of points in every game.

And that’s quite important because a) if that’s the case in league games on occasions, the likelihood is that we could still win games where we haven’t played particularly well and b) we pick up bonus points in the process.

And bonus points could yet decide how the league is eventually decided.

And, in homage to Brucie…’What do points make?’

Championship rugby if you get enough of them, that’s what.

A question of:

But you must try, try and try
Try and try and you’ll succeed at last

See what I did there?

Results this weekend clearly went our way, with Plymouth losing and Moseley drawing, but by scoring 4 tries and losing by just the one point, Plymouth still picked up 2 points. 2 points that could yet be important come the end of the season.

When Cov keep ball in hand and decline the opportunity to kick possession away, they look so much more dangerous. Of course, we will come across teams who press up high and whom we’ll find difficult to break down, and in those circumstances sometimes the option to kick behind the defence and cause the opposition to turn and chase back can be effective. But when we attack, either from deep with the likes of Stokes, Knox and Asiedu to find the holes for the support players to run into, or when the forwards pick up and drive to such good effect as they did on Saturday, then we just look a far more dangerous side…

Twelve months ago, our defence wasn’t good enough to allow us to play such attacking rugby, so when the game opened up all too often we were caught in no man’s land and vulnerable to the counter attack, as illustrated by the pre-Christmas game against Old Albanian (a very nervy 43-42 home win).

But slowly, under first Craig Newby and then Nick Walshe, along with the other coaches and now with players like Luke Narraway in support, we look so much better defensively and although we leaked two early tries against Hull, we kept our shape for most of the final 40 minutes of the game.

And in that period we scored 38 unanswered points…

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And a quick aside regarding Luke Narraway – there were a couple of almost ‘throwaway’ paragraphs in The Rugby Paper regarding Luke’s move to Cov, the contents of which should be music to the ears of Cov supporters.

The thrust of the article was about his views on newly promoted London Irish’s chances of survival in the Premiership (LI being his former club), but in the last couple of paragraphs Neale Harvey went on to say that Luke is ‘desperate’ to win promotion for a second time with ‘ambitious’ Coventry, quoting the Cov no 8 as saying:

One thing I’ve learnt pretty quickly is that Coventry is a big club with expectations…

…my future is towards coaching because the body can only go on so long, but I’ll try to play as many games as I can and it would be great to be part of another promotion winning side

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Nice one Luke – that’s just earned you a shed load of brownie points from me (not sure what the cubs/scouts’ equivalent is, so apologies for being a bit of an ‘..ist’ there)…

I’m ashamed to admit it, but a nagging doubt of mine about this season’s recruitment was just how committed some of these big name players would be to a club that is, in all honesty, something of a minnow in comparison with those they will been used to playing for at various times in their playing careers.

However, pop along to a training session or watch the likes of Narraway, Makaafi or Tuitupou in a game and you can see exactly what it means to these players to wear the famous  blue and white hoops.

Reading it in the national rugby paper is srill rather reassuring though!

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As asides go, that probably wasn’t the quickest, but never mind.

Seems I jinxed Coventry’s record of having few major injuries in the last 12 months, with both Anthony Fenner and Pete White both picking up knocks on Saturday, with Fenner’s looking to involve a fairly lengthy absence.

There’s also injuries that I’m aware of to James Neal, Max Trimble and Anthony Matato, as well as Tom Poole and Kailus Hutchinson (Academy) and Josh Palmer (Academy). I imagine that’s as many as we’ve had at any one time in the last 12 months, although some of them are less serious than others.

With Tom Poole out for a while, as well as Kailus Hutchinson injured and Cameron Gray now appearing for the Wasps’ ‘A’ side, there looks like there might be a shortfall in the second row department, so it might well be that we see a new face before too long, even if it’s on a short-term loan. There’s still Nile Dacres (who had a very good game at the weekend), George Oram (ditto the previous comment in parenthesis) and of course Tom Jubb, but that doesn’t leave a great deal of cover and for the last couple of games Brett ‘the Hitman’ Daynes has come on in the second half to fill that role (and he had an absolute stonker of a cameo on Saturday)…

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A couple of matters arising on which to end…

First – Zoo Sports Shield games. Does anyone know if they are recorded by the club and, if so, could they be put onto the website for those unable to attend to watch for a limited period…there’s so much of interest in those games, not the least of which is how the youngsters are faring, the same players who hopefully will one day make the full match day squad.

I know the first team games are recorded, but presumably that’s part of an RFU scheme that makes all the games in each round of the National One season available to all clubs to watch as part of their planning/preparation/coaching for forthcoming fixtures…and as such the club won’t necessarily be able to make recordings freely accessible.

But if Cov record the Zoo Shield games for their own use, which presumably they do so the coaches can watch them for post-match feedback etc, then it should be possible? They wouldn’t need to be edited – rough and ready would be great.

Even an option to pay a fiver on top of the cost of the season ticket to receive access to recordings of all the Zoo League games would be worth it (400 *£5 = £2000 which might be enough to pay someone to film them…?). Just thinking out of the box on that one…maybe the Supporters’ Club could donate something to the club to give its members access…?

Anyway…bottom line is, it would be great to get to see those games if they are recorded…

(If anyone who went to Saturday’s game at ‘Street reads this post, out of interest, how did Waita Setu get on?)

Secondly – attendances.

Attendances this weekend at the both Championship and National One games seemed on the low side given this was the opening game of the season.

According to The Rugby Paper:

Championship                                                   National One

Ealing v Pirates (512)                                      Bishop’s Stortford v Blaydon (720)

Jersey v Doncaster (1244)                               Blackheath v Plymouth (563)

London Scottish v Carnegie (827)                DMP v Loughborough (878)

Richmond v Bedford (788)                             Esher v Old Elthamiams (950)

Titans v Nottingham (?)                                  Fylde v Cambridge (874)

Bristol v Hartpury  (?)                                     Hull I v Coventry (324)

                                                                             Moseley v Ampthill (717)

                                                                             Old Albanian v Rosslyn Park (427)

Only one of the 12 games where there is an attendance given attracted over the 1000 mark!

Extraordinary, really.

Esher’s gate was inflated somewhat as it was very much a local derby and DMP’s held up pretty well considering it probably wasn’t the most attractive of fixures for them. With Plymouth looking to challenge for the top spot this season, I’d expect their game at home to Esher next week to pull in a sizeable crowd but on the basis of this week’s figures, Coventry’s home game against local rivals, and one of the outsiders for promotion, Moseley, might well be the biggest gate outside of the Premiership. Now wouldn’t that be something?

Although Pirates v Bristol, also something of a local derby, could well attract a big crowd as well.

There will be a few clubs, especially in the Championship, who’ll be concerned over those sorts of figures  and you can only hope that, as the season progresses, we won’t get another London Welsh scenario unfold.

Coventry might well be one of the few clubs to buck the trend and see attendances increase, especially if we have a good start to the season. Cov isn’t yet quite self-sufficient financially and the more bums on seats, the closer we move to being able to rely less and less on the generosity of people with deep pockets, pockets which are by no means bottomless.

An extra 100 paying supporters through the gate on a match day means something like an extra £1200 of revenue generated (after concessions) as well as the additional monies from the sale of programmes, refreshments etc – call it a conservative £1500.

Multiply that by 15 (for the number of home games in a season) and that’s serious money – some £22,500.

And that’s just on an increase of 100 supporters – so an increase from an average gate of 1263 last season to 1363 this season. Get to the 1500 average of three seasons ago and you’re talking well over £50,000 and that doesn’t even include additional parking, merchandise sales, attendance at functions and so on…

Big money – hardly surprising why a successful season is so important to the club.

Success breeds success…on and of the pitch.

Let’s hope it continues that way with a win against Moseley on Saturday.

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‘Many Rivers to Cross’, ‘The Harder They Come’ or ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ – so many of Jimmy Cliff’s songs are applicable to Cov over the last couple of seasons. However, on this occasion it has to be…’You Can Get It If You Really Want’

Jimmy’s still got the moves, too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 replies »

  1. Surprised attendance at Blackheath only 563. Seemed like more and included a vocal Albion contingent. Wonder if it was paid attendance and excluded children and possibly season ticket holders?

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    • I’ve never understood how clubs work out their attendances…I guess the small the figure the less tax you pay, but that would be rather cynical in this day and age. On one or two occasions numbers have been a little on the low side, although on others appeared somewhat inflated…and the other thing to factor in is. I’m rubbish at guesstimating numbers…

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  2. I was surprised at Moseley’s attendance, it did seem low for the first home game against one of the other teams vying for promotion.

    FYI Tim, Rotherham/Nottingham attendance just crept over the thousand mark with 1,017, and Bristol/Hartpury attendance was a none too shabby 7,045.

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    • Thanks for that, Warren. So really it’s only Bristol that seem to be putting bums on seats after round 1…it must be a worry for clubs given the current financial climate. Fair play to Cov though, they have certainly done a fair amount of advertising for the Moseley game across all forms of social media.

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  3. Tim, Waitu Setu played the full 80 mins, was strong taking the ball into contact, I don’t have enough knowledge of the game to go into too much detail! Tom Price, Ben Palmer and Joe Lane also stood out. (Apologies to others as don’t know their names yet!) Ben was hobbling a bit at the end of the game, hopefully not to serious? As surely he is very close to a first team call up?

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    • Hi Dave…thanks for leaving a comment…plessed about Waita as I think he’ll be a useful addition to the squad. Interestingly, in the couple of Development games I’ve seen so far, all three names were ones I’d singled out, together with James (?) Roach in the backs. Palmer is a really great player…not as young as the others but as you say, he must be near a place in the match day squad already. His brother, Josh, is arguably even better…but injured at the moment.

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  4. Hi Tim – I popped along to watch the Cov Dev. v Cambridge 2nds on Saturday. I arrived late but I imagine part of the warm- up involved the walk from the clubhouse to the pitch! It took me back to school rugby days. All the kit bags in a heap! The game was enjoyable with Cov on the back foot for a lot of it. Their defence at times was shambolic, but that often resulted in end to end rugby. Cambridge forwards played well and were noticeably larger than our guys. Waita had a solid game and was effective, particularly at the back of the scrum. He made several excellent breaks. Fast for a big man. A big change for him from playing in that final a few weeks ago! His wife and children were there to support him. Other noticeable performances for me were from Ben Palmer, Cliffie, Brendan Burke and Pricey. Brendan always made ground, scurried and made a nuisance of himself. Pricey enjoyed himself in the back row! Palmer was excellent, carried well and kicked fairly accurately. We came back quite strongly but our frail defence ultimately cost us the game. Very entertaining and great value for money!
    Thanks for the updates from Hull.
    Cheers Richard.

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    • Hi Richard…thanks for the comments…everyone’s talking about Palmer and I’m sure his chance will come, especially with Anthony Fenner now out for a few weeks…must be very strange for Setu…another player who is too good for this level really. Once the Moseley games out of the way maybe some of I’d the fringe players will get some time in the match day squad…Pricey will be in his element when the pitches start to get heavy and muddy!

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