Tue. Apr 13th, 2021

Following Coventry’s second successive clean sheet, I’d wondered out loud in a post over the weekend whether or not this was a club record.

‘Nilling’ the opposition is rare enough these days, but to do so two weeks running is not something I’ve come across before.

And as if to the confirm just how unusual this is, James Maxwell did a bit of research of his own and has kindly agreed to allow me to include it in today’s post. I should add that James is an ardent Cov supporter, presently enjoying a sabbatical of sorts in the Antipodes.

Before his move to the other side of the world, James was a regular at the BPA –  is there currently such a committed Cov supporter living anywhere further away from Coventry than James. It would make for an interesting feature in the match programme or on the website – a map of the world with pointers to indicate where our overseas support is based. I bet it’s fairly widespread, especially as there are plenty of ex-pats who follow the Twitter feeds on match days.

Anyway, back to the subject in hand. James, or Stato as he’s since been christened, looked at all the games played this season in the national leagues from the Premiership all the way down to National 2 (North and South). 5 leagues in all.

As of last weekend, there have been a total of 264 completed fixtures.

And here’s the interesting bit, of those 264 games, only 4 have resulted in a team failing to get on the scoreboard.

98.5% of games completed so far have resulted in both teams scoring.

Just 4 games where a team has failed to score …and Coventry is responsible for two of them.

So I would tentatively suggest that given the paucity of games in which at least one side hasn’t managed even a single score, the odds of the same team keeping a clean sheet in two consecutive games must be pretty remote. I’m sure it will have happened, but whether it’s something Cov has achieved is far less certain.

What makes this most unusual of outcomes all the more pleasing, if you’re a Cov supporter at least, is that only the week before the Fylde game, the first of two games in which Cov nilled the opposition, The Rugby Paper had led its National One review with the headline:

Blackheath are league’s best defence says Hogg

…itself a misquote of what Gavin Hogg, the OA Head Coach had actually said.

Coventry defensive performances in the two weekends since TRP’s comment have certainly questioned the validity of such a statement and a quick look at the National One table shows that Blackheath are presently conceding an average of 17.8 points a game against Coventry’s 14.1. And just to add insult to injury, Blackheath leaked more points against Cov than any of the other teams they’ve so far played – 37 in total.

And the point I’m making is…?

…made, I believe.


Far from showing any kind of overt disappointment, or even displeasure, at Rowland Winter’s decision to leave Granchester Road at the end of the 2015/16 season following their promotion to National One, the good folk at Cambridge clearly remain very fond of their erstwhile Director of Rugby.

Even the loss of some key players to Cov at the same time hasn’t detracted from their support of him or of what he achieved whilst there. (I understand Moseley’s officials don’t feel quite the same way towards Coventry, following the defection of ‘one or two’ of their players to Cov at the end of last season… 🙂 )

You get the feeling that Cambridge is immensely proud of its success under his tenure and also extremely supportive of Coventry’s renaissance since he arrived at the BPA. Just as he helped Cambridge grow as a club, so they helped him progress in his own career as an ambitious and aspiring DoR.  Those involved with Cambridge have continued to follow his career with interest and it’s not unusual for me to receive messages via Twitter from those connected with the club at the end of a Cov game to acknowledge the result and wish the team well.

They are a very friendly club and I’m sure those travelling down by coach on Saturday will be surprised and delighted with the efforts made by Cambridge to welcome Coventry supporters  There aren’t too many clubs that go to such lengths to provide away supporters with their own room and bar, with food also available  on request. It isn’t something that Cambridge offer solely to Coventry, but you get the feeling that Coventry’s visit is that little bit more special.

But make no mistake, as friendly as they are, Cambridge has every intention of spoiling the party on Saturday.

Come 3,00 o’clock the welcome off the pitch is sure to be matched by the intensity of the rivalry on it. Cambridge would like nothing more than to claim Coventry’s scalp as their own, but equally would be just as pleased to see Coventry promoted come the end of the season.  ‘Blood and Sand’, as they are known locally, have had something of a mixed season so far, but in their last three games they’ve begun to show the kind of form that suggests their performances over the course of the season will ensure they’ll finish well above the 14th place they managed last season.

They escaped relegation  only because two, rather than three, teams faced the drop, the result of the knock-on effects of London Welsh’s demise earlier in the season. A narrow defeat away to Plymouth, a home win against Rosslyn Park and an excellent away win against Ampthill suggest Cambridge are an improving side and definitely a threat, even against a Cov team that is brimming with confidence at the moment,

There’s no doubt that this will be a tough encounter, but Rowland Winter will travel to Cambridge fully aware of what to expect and players like Narraway, Nilsen, Tuitupou and the like, rested or benched for the last game, will be in the starting squad. The team know exactly what a win would mean to the club, to the supporters and to their DoR.

Saturday’s XV will  be strongest available side, or close to it. No quarter will be asked for or given…

And whatever happens on the pitch on Saturday, it be left there after the game.

I should also mention for anyone not going down to Cambridge, the home side’s Twitter account is about as good as it gets in National One and whilst ours is very much better than it ever was,  Cambridge’s sets the standard to which we should aspire. There will be regular updates during the game, often with excellent gifs attached. I suggest you follow Cambridge Twitter feed, check Cov’s  and if that’s not enough, follow mine!

For reference, Cambridge ‘tweet’ from @camrufc .

There are still a limited number of seats available on the second coach (which has been upgraded to a larger size), so if you have a sudden change of heart and fancy coming down with the ‘blue ‘n white army’, there’s still time – an email to COV1874@gmail.com is all it takes…that and some flowers, a bottle of wine for your partner and the promise of a better than normal Christmas present this year.

It could be a day to remember if Cov get that record 17th win on the bounce…still would be if they don’t, to be fair.

Up the Cov.


Sometimes I find myself long regretting
Some foolish thing some little simple thing I’ve done
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

The Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

As promised, here are the results of the last week’s poll to determine Coventry’s 2010-2017 National One Dream Team.

I’m going to publish it in two posts.

The first, today’s, lists the squad of players that would have been selected based on the votes cast, made up of the 4 props, 2 hookers, 4 second rows and so on.

In tomorrow’s, I’ll publish the team itself, made up of the 15 players with the most votes from each of the positions in today’s squad.

A word of caution, though.

The idea behind the poll was merely to replicate the kind of discussions you might have with your mates on a Friday night over a drink or two, the kind where you look back over the past 7 years and choose the strongest team possible in your opinion. It leads to some debate, the odd argument and in the end an agreement that there is no right or wrong answer, but in the meantime you’ve remembered players and games that would otherwise have remained forgotten.

I thought long and hard about including this year’s imports as they haven’t completed the required 14 games, but to leave them out would have meant that players who more than likely would have appeared in many people’s dream team would be missing…and would a squad without Makaafi and Preece, for instance, be representative of the best squad Cov could have assembled over the past 7 years? (Notice I said ‘squad’ and not ‘team’ – not wanting to give too much away).

Probably not, according to the results.

The other problem with the poll is that you’re not comparing like with like. Budgets 7 years ago and indeed Cov’s reputation at that time, didn’t allow for the big name players we have seen at Cov of late, and many of those whom we attracted to Cov in 2010/11 and beyond just weren’t of the same calibre as those who have come to us from Championship, and even Premiership, in recent seasons.

I was simply  interested to know how readers view the current squad in terms of those we’ve had previously during our time in National One – but maybe this wasn’t the best way of going about it.

I thought it also was an interesting way of remembering some of the names of players from the past – certainly a number of people have remarked on  the number of players on the list whom they wouldn’t have recalled, but what good players they were (or indeed are).

Anyway, the poll proved popular, and I’m indebted to those who took part, of which there were in excess of 170. As a percentage of those who regularly read the blog, it’s not as many as usual, but as a number have said in passing, they haven’t supported Cov long enough to be able to make a judgement about players they haven’t seen.

Anyway, here is the squad of 32 who form Coventry’s 2010-2017 National One Dream Team, as chosen by readers of this blog:

Props: Brown, Parkins, Litchfield, Boulton (Thorne/Steenkemp)

Hookers: Tolmie, Nilsen (Price)

Second Rows: Poole, Jubb, Dacres, Oram (Wright/Morgan)

Flankers: Oliver, Preece, Makaafi and Daynes (Alex Nash/Povoas)

No 8s: Narraway, Le Roux (Pailor/Dyer)

Scrum-halves: White, Evans/Brazier

Fly-halves: Fenner/Jones, Maisey

Centres: Otutaha, Tuitupou, Grove, Stevens (Myring/MacBurnie)

Wings: Lespierre, Hurrell, Knox, Rundle (Trimble)

Full-backs: Stokes, Hodgson

IMPORTANT – there is absolutely no significance in the order the names appear against each position, so Andy Brown’s name ahead of the other three props does not signify he gained more votes.

Evans/Brazier and Jones/Fenner each tied with the same percentage score, but Evans and Jones got the final nod as they achieved more votes. Brazier and Fenner will also be added to the squad but will not be available for selection when the team is announced tomorrow!

22 of the squad are currently at Coventry.

Players in brackets and in black were very close to selection. Alex Nash and Matt Price can count themselves especially unlucky as they were just 1 and 3 votes away respectively.

One or two surprises in there for me – Otutaha ahead of MacBurnie and Myring, Trimble missing out, Parkins ahead of Steenkemp and Thorne. Had I put both Pailor and Dyer in as flankers, would they have got in ahead of some of those who did?

I’ll publish the team itself in tomorrow’s post.

Whatever the side, it will be a strong one on paper at least. It’s only a fantasy team and hopefully in producing it, I won’t have ruffled too many feathers, whilst also acknowledging that is not without its flaws.

Sometimes I find myself long regretting
Some foolish thing some little simple thing I’ve done
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood


Well before my time, but a classic nevertheless…Nina Simone released a version before The Animals and good as it was (far more ‘bluesy’), this has to be the definitive one.

Love the token Christmas decorations…(at least I think that’s what they are).

If it doesn’t stay in your head for the rest of the day, then I’ll be very surprised.







By Tim

4 thought on “Nilling the opposition…Cambridge proving rivals can remain friends…Coventry’s 2010-2017 Dream Team – the squad”
  1. Blimey, Marcus, that puts Cov’s achievement into the shade. I’m ashamed to say I know little of women’s rugby – I presume Saracens is the countries top team on those sorts of results. Very happy with the scoreline in the Wasps game though!!!
    Great piece of info…many thanks for taking the time to add it to the post, Will certainly check Saracens result at the weekend!

  2. That would be brilliant if you could, Kevin. JB’s the man, but it is a big ask!

  3. Saracens Women last three matches in the Tyrrells Premiership

    Richmond 0 – 29 Saracens
    Saracens 30 – 0 Wasps
    Worcester 0 – 74 Saracens

    See you on Saturday.

  4. Tim. On the subject of nilling the opposition. Back in the days of 3 point tries, I remember numerous low scoring games, but it was rare to nil the opposition. I have some memories but I wonder if John Butler might have the time to trawl through his records to see where consecutive nillings have occurred. I’d be surprised if it has happened before to Cov. Even in my schoolboy days it was rare. I’ll follow this up……

Any thoughts:

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