Caldy…Help The Heroes…How good are Coventry…’Man of the Match’ results
Talking about their upcoming game against Cov in their podcast last week, one of the Caldy players, their captain I think, said, ‘It’s irrelevant what happens – we’ll always hold our heads up ‘cos we’re Caldy Rugby Club and that’s what we do…’.
I was impressed then with the pride the players had in their club and, indeed, in themselves and it was pretty clear on Saturday that they played very much as a team. Maybe they lacked the quality we had across the our match day squad, but there was nothing lacking in their commitment to the cause.
Many teams might have folded going into half time 26-7 up against such a strong Coventry side; indeed, one or two have already done so.
But not Caldy.
They showed real doggedness and despite having won just two games all season, they certainly took the game to us in the second half.
Their performance seems to have polarised Cov supporters, with some suggesting that they are the weakest side we’ve played so far this season and others, like me, believing that despite falling into the bottom three after Saturday’s defeat, they’re a better team than that on the basis of what we saw.
To me, Hull, Loughborough and Fylde certainly were no better and two of those were home games for them.
Had I been a travelling Caldy supporter, going into the game I think I might have been expecting a far more one-sided affair, given Cov’s start to the season. It’s hard to be positive when your team is up against the unbeaten league leaders and you’re not in the best of form yourself.
I would have left the BPA though disappointed, obviously, but relieved that it wasn’t as heavy a defeat as some Cov have inflicted on National One opposition this season and feeling that we’d made a game of it.
In short – my head would have been held up high; Caldy had delivered what they said they would. I would have been proud of their tenacity.
Good luck to them over the rest of the season – hopefully, come the return fixture in March, Cov will still be heading the league and Caldy will have remained true to their mantra.
Coventry support for Help for Heroes and Fisher House on Saturday was, for the most part, extremely well organised.
A simple ceremony with 2 flag bearers, attended by representatives from the Board and Supporters and in the company of Dave Watson, the Gold medal-winning Paralympian.
There was the mandatory minute’s silence, impeccably observed by everyone.
And the most moving part of all, Jon Sharp’s reading of the names of Coventry Rugby Club players who lost their lives in both World Wars which was so emotive – it was all that was needed.
It was dignified and perfect for the occasion. It was all very well received and the lining up of the players and officials was all that was needed.
Other than a bugler, perhaps, but they are so very hard to come by.
So I’m not really sure why Coventry opted to included Billy Bell singing Abide With Me – 5 minutes or so before a game of rugby, with the home team going through their final preparations behind him and the crowd eager to greet their exit to the changing room with the customary Cov roar.
Great voice that Billy Bell might have, it seems now more about him than it does about the moment, given this is the third time he’s sung it before a game..
The moment is surely in the minute’s silence and the reading of the names of the fallen?
A bugler would have sent shivers down everyone’s spine, something that Billy’s version of Abide With Me was never going to do.
The time to reflect was is in the minute’s silence, not in the 3 minutes of Billy singing and everyone else concentrating on what was happening behind him. It was a point well made on the Messageboard and one that I thoroughly agree with.
The irony was that as Billy was just to break into song, the Cov players were extremely vocal behind him and he jokingly asked them to be quiet – the incongruity of the moment wasn’t lost.
Hakas and anthems by all means at rugby events, they are designed to promote allegiance, even encourage a brief moment of jingoism, with the fans having the option to sing loud and proud should they wish. But Coventry v Caldy isn’t the FA Cup Final.
As the players completed their half circuit of the pitch and ran in front to the main stand and behind Billy, who was by then in full flow, many supporters wanted to give their customary roar of encouragement and indeed there were one or two ‘air’ clapping…but most of us just remained silent and upstanding, but silently shouting out for the team.
And if the supporters are asked to stand out of respect (and not all did), why have the players warming up behind Billy on the pitch?
Had the players gone in a couple of minutes early, then perhaps that might have worked…?
Save it for the bar afterwards perhaps…but not as the players are warming up and all eyes, and interest, are on them.
Billy Bell seems a really decent guy, and genuinely funny with it, and I was one of the very few who stood up for him when he took over the PA after Mick Carter had done as stint.
But singing ‘Abide With Me’ when the players are still out and the crowd want to get behind them, well it just didn’t work for me.
Only two teams in the five national leagues (Premiership down to National 2 South) still have a 100% record. Bristol and, of course, Coventry – although Bristol have played 3 games less and have also dropped a bonus point along the way..
72 teams in total and only ourselves and Bristol remain unbeaten.
It would have been 3 but Stourbridge suffered their first defeat of the season, away to Sheffield Tigers, but Sam Pailor’s side remain top of the league, 7 points ahead of Tynedale. It would be great to see Sam back into National One, although I rather hope we won’t be playing them if he does….
Below National Two (north and South), National Three is divided into four regional leagues (London SE, Midlands, North and South West) and of the 56 teams involved, only Birmingham and Solihull are unbeaten and they top their table, 4 points ahead of Peterborough Lions.
Whilst it would take a brave Cov supporter to predict with confidence that Cov will finish top of the league in April, elsewhere supporters from other clubs are beginning to make comparisons between Cov and the Hartpury of last season.
A thread on Rolling-maul-com, under the heading How good are Coventry? (click on the hyperlink to take you directly to the relevant page) does just that and, whilst I don’t think there’s a single Cov supporter who would expect us to go unbeaten all season, I can well understand why it is being asked elsewhere.
Some big name acquisitions over the summer and some eye-catching wins already, together with the meanest of defences…it’s a fair question from an outsider’s point of view.
Realistically though, whilst Hartpury went 30 games unbeaten, Cov have only managed just 10 so far, and a couple of those were a little too close for comfort. There are six games remaining before the Christmas break and all of them are potentially tricky – OE (a), Plymouth, Rosslyn Park (a), Ampthill, Darlington (a) and Birmingham Moseley (a).
Three of those teams lie in the three places immediately below us and if I’m honest, I can’t see us winning all of them. Darlington away is the obvious concern but if any of our performances in those games drop to the level of Saturday’s, then we will struggle.
If we go into the Christmas period having played 16 games and lost just two, I’d be happy. Provided we pick up the bonus point in the others, that should see us still on top and with the squad we have and the players with long term injuries by then starting to return, well we’re right in the mix. Losing just the one would give us a useful advantage going into the new year.
The more we win, the more I start to believe…I can’t help that and however many times I hear it said that it’s far too early to be thinking beyond the next game or two, it’s human nature to hope and to believe.
What seems clear after 10 games is that we have a squad capable of competing for a top two place in this league. Form, injuries, bans and all the other uncontrollables will impact on the final outcome, but we are where we want to be.
Any ‘End of 10 Weeks Report’ would be pretty encouraging – mention of consistency and discipline would doubtless feature, as would a tendency to over-complicate things, but there would be plenty of As for Effort and a good few for Achievement, too.
Could do better…harsh.
Could do even better…much fairer.
Hopefully, just before or after the Christmas break, there will be another Fans’ Forum. It seems a while since we’ve had one. It would be good to have the chance to hear Rowland and Jon talk about the remainder of the season and what their expectations are and about the changes taking place in and around the club, of which there appear to be many.
That one could be well attended if all goes to plan.
Coventry v Caldy ‘Man of the Match Award’:
Very many thanks to everyone who took part in the ‘Man of the Match’ poll over the weekend.
The results of the votes are as follows:
1st – Nile Dacres – 38%
2nd – Anthony Matoto – 17%
3rd – Scott Tolmie – 15%
The sponsors’ choice was Nathanael Titchard-jones and few would argue that for the 50 minutes he was on the pitch he was influential, both in the scrum and in broken play. He had one surging run that led to James Stokes’ try.
However, those who voted in the blog poll were pretty clear on their top three, with Nile Dacres achieving over twice the number of votes of Matoto in second place.
Whilst in his post-match thoughts, Rowland Winter had suggested Cov weren’t up to their normal standards in the set piece, there seems to be a feeling amongst supporters that Dacres had done a pretty decent job in contesting the line-outs and making life awkward for the Caldy jumpers. Caldy lost of number of line-outs on their own throw and Dacres, and indeed Cameron Gray, were instrumental in disrupting their ball.
Anthony Matoto’s inclusion in the top three is pleasing – in a game where Cov’s backs were less prominent than in many others so far this season, AM scored a couple of tries and made another. He’s a really powerful runner, too, as he showed when he made the break for Anthony Fenner’s try, and he has genuine pace. Since his return from injury he seems to have been more prominent in defence, where he is a strong tackler and looks to have a very good positional sense. Yesterday we saw just how effective he can be with the ball.
Scott Tolmie continues to impress and he’s scoring a hatful of tries at the moment. He is deceptively quick and can sustain it for much longer than you might normally expect of a front row forward. His support play is fantastic and his strength will often see him break the tackle and turn defences, enabling Cov to surge forward.
If he takes the ball at pace 15m out, he’s very hard to stop. His ability to score tries is a real bonus, similar in many respects to Matt Price a couple of seasons ago.
The type of running game Scott enjoys means he’s always going to be a crowd pleaser when he’s in the form he’s currently enjoying.
Long may it continue.
As always, many thanks to everyone who voted.