Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely Winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sunAnd I say it’s all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
George Harrison – Here Comes The Sun
…I can’t imagine it’s been a case of ‘a long cold lonely Winter’ for Rowland this weekend, given Coventry’s total domination of Moseley on Saturday, even taking into account the bout of man ‘flu that plagued him last week.
Such is his popularity amongst supporters right now, he won’t have to buy himself a pint down at the BPA until at least the return fixture in December, which by my reckoning gives him a good three and a half months of free drink…
And I say that’s all right.
The Butts is a far happier place to be these days and yes, the forecast suggests sunnier times ahead, metaphorically at least.
But there are still some clouds on the horizon and there might well be the odd drop of rain yet before the skies clear totally.
Which is why I tend to agree with Mick about taking one game at a time (see comments from the previous post for clarification)..
Top of the league after just two games is as good as it gets at this stage of the season. Averaging nearly 60 points and 9 tries a game is the stuff of dreams for supporters and it’s probably as far back as 22 years since Coventry fans felt as confident about the future, at least it is for me.
But it is just two games and too often we have flattered to deceive early on, only for our season to peter out after injuries or a loss of form reminds us of the reality of just where we are.
Back in 1995, arguably the last occasion supporters were quite so optimistic so early in the season, Director of Rugby Derek Eves had brought in a number of big name signings. Players, like Andy Blackmore, Ian Patten and Richie Robinson, alongside Danny Grewcock and Rob Hardwick who were already at the club, helped Cov win promotion from what was then National Division Three in the ’95/’96 season, and taking the club to within 80 minutes of a place in the Premiership the following year. Grewcock and Hardwick were to play for England whilst still with Coventry in the National Two.
Heady days indeed.
But the clouds never entirely lifted, indeed many of us had our heads well and truly in them for most of that two or three year period.
The following year the club, having stretched itself financially beyond breaking point, faced liquidation before a last minute package was put in place to enable the club to continue in what became Premiership Two.
Since 2009/10, following further financial difficulties, Coventry has been in a period of slow but stead re-organisation. Since 2012 and Jon Sharp’s appointment as Chairman, the club has worked exceptionally hard to bring back some form of financial stability.
It’s well worth remembering that the current optimism surrounding the club’s present future on the pitch is built very much on the prudent business plans that have been the Board’s focus off it since 2012.
The one couldn’t possibly have happened without the other. So when we look to the future, it’s not just the success of the club on the pitch that we must consider, it’s also it’s ability to become self-financing off it that is just as important. In neither area is the club where it wants to be…yet.
There is momentum of course. On the business side of things, the BPA is now used by a number of sporting teams and its excellent facilities are fast becoming a centre of choice for local businesses to host conferences and the like. The rugby team is already one of the favourites for promotion this season and there is growing interest within the local rugby community with the recruitment of a number of big name players over the summer.
It’s still very much small steps, but amongst supporters there is a degree of belief in what the club is currently achieving that makes it difficult not to get carried about by its future prospects..
However, as far as the rugby side of the club is concerned, I can understand why supporters talk excitedly about the forthcoming game against Blackheath in a couple of weeks’ time, ignoring the potential ‘banana skin’ (to quote Mick) that is Old Albanian.
If Cov is going to be a real contender for promotion, and I think that at this point in the season we have to accept it is given its current position and its results over the last couple of months, then you also have to assume that fixtures against teams like Old Albanian are going to be ‘softer games’ than those against Plymouth, Moseley or Blackheath, whether home or away .
And whilst yes, of course, each game has to be taken one at a time, we know from listening to Rowland Winter at training that some of the senior players won’t be playing in certain games for precisely that reason.
For instance, will Tuitupou, Nilsen, Makaafi, Narraway, Preece, Dacres, Grove and Stevens all start next weekend?
Probably not and for precisely the reason that I’ve just outlined…the Old Albanian game isn’t the challenge that Blackheath will be at home the weekend after next. It’s a game where you can give some of the players who have yet to start a league game their first outing, knowing that they are good enough to step into any team in National One and that the bench will be have players on it able to change the tempo of a game should it be needed.
Blackheath, having already beaten Plymouth and Rosslyn Park, is a team we have to be really wary off, whilst Old Albanian is a team that we shouldn’t take for granted. Having beaten OA 8-73 over at Woollams as recently as April, maybe we can be forgiven for looking ahead to Blackheath as the next big challenge, whilst of course being sure not to take our eyes off next weekend’s fixture. I don’t think that’s dismissive of OA, just realistic that the challenge that Blackheath will offer is greater.
I think that is the realism that Mick refers to, but it would be wrong to assume that Cov is going to score another 9 tries and 60 points at the weekend simply on the basis of what happened back in April. Cov will have to treat OAs with respect, as they did with Hull in the opening game…
But as tests go, the next BIG challenge, and a test of Coventry’s promotion credentials, is surely Blackheath at home in two weeks’ time?
And the winner is…
Many thanks, as always, to everyone who took part in the recent poll to determine the readers’ ‘Man of the Match’ for the game against Moseley.
Given the interest in the game, it was hardly surprising that more people voted over the weekend than for any previous MoM award made in the blog over the last two years. In fact, well over 12% (in numbers at least) of the attendance at the game took part, so the result should be statistically a fair representation of the outcome of any poll had one been taken amongst the supporters present in the ground on Saturday.
The results were as follows:
1. Niles Dacres – 32%
2. James Stokes – 15%
3. Luke Narraway – 10%
4. Latu Makaafi – 10%
Whilst Luke Narraway and Latu Makaafi shared the same percentage of votes, Narraway actually had two votes more than Makaafi.
Not for the first time, this was a different outcome to that of the match day sponsors who opted for James Stokes, a decision to be fair that wasn’t questioned at all once it was announced, and rightly so. James’ contribution to the game was significant to put it mildly.
However, having had a chance to reflect on the game, the backs benefited greatly from the dominance of the forwards in all aspects of their game, providing them with quality ball with which to attack. And amongst the forwards, no one appeared to have a better game than Nile Dacres. He was dominant in the lineout, an area of our game that has, other than against Rotherham, looked exceptionally strong so far this season. However, he really came into his own in the loose, making good metres with some exceptionally strong running of which the run that led to his try, following a very neat inside pass from Sam Tuitupou, was the best example.
He and George Oram played together last season for England Counties and were a formidable combination, and together with Tom Poole (if available again this season) and Tom Jubb, make up as good a quartet of second rowers as we’ve had since we’ve been in National One. Whilst the likes of James Stokes and Will Maisey are always going to get noticed more, given they tend to be two of the key points scorers in the team, it’s good that players like Nile Dacres also get some recognition for the hard graft they put in to create the chances for others to excel.
Congratulations then to Nile – I have a feeling this won’t be the last of these awards he’ll pick up over the course of the season…
To finish with, something of an unusual request.
BBC Coventry and North Warwickshire is unveiling a new rugby show every Wednesday and its presenter, Alec Blackman, is looking for Cov fans to take part – a different fan each week, I believe. Those involved in delivering the programme want to make the ‘fan guest’ a regular feature but are doing it from a standing start, so any help would be gratefully received.
Whist I prefer to be somewhat reclusive and am not the most articulate of speakers, there will be those who read this who would enjoy the opportunity to talk about all things Coventry and do a very good job of it too. It’s not something I wouldn’t have any confidence in doing but if you would like to be involved, please just leave a comment or email me and I’ll forward you Alec’s contact details. The more people who show an interest the better as it’s an excellent way of promoting the club to a wider audience than might otherwise be the norm.
George Harrison with Ringo and Phil Collins on drums and featuring Eric Clapton and Elton John