Rosslyn Park’s preview….training ground update…smile you’re on camera

Full marks to whoever wrote Rosslyn Park’s excellent official preview of the game this weekend.

Refusing to fall into the clichéd tones that have been heard so many times already from those unconnected with the club, the author simply makes the point that:

The size of the ‘Cov’ playing budget this year seems to acquire an extra nought at the end in every retelling by envious opponents, but suffice it to say that it underlines their ambitions

Which is probably as accurate as anything that has been written about Cov’s player budget so far this season.

Few would argue that Coventry has one of the largest, if not the largest, campaign chests in the league, but some of the figures quoted have been absurd. The club has made its intentions plain and recruited well, but not at the risk of creating the kind of financial pressures that we have experienced in the past. Rosslyn Park has rightly recognised the club’s ambition, whilst appearing not to have bought into the commonly held belief outside of the BPA that it is the lure of the lucre that has attracted some of the very high profile names coming into the club this season.

This is just not the case…Rowland Winter and John Sharp have both said as much on several occasions, as have the players, and it makes refreshing reading to hear the opposition refuting the exaggerations of ‘envious opponents’.

Well done Rosslyn Park.

And thank you…

The preview also refers to Coventry’s ‘large and loyal set of supporters’ who will be visiting the Rock on Saturday, referring to them elsewhere as ‘noisy’,  and asking for home supporters to come down to the game in numbers so as not to:

…let them turn it into a home match for them

Whilst there will be a fair few away-day supporters there to watch what hopefully will be another win for Coventry on their travels this season, there won’t be anything like the numbers we saw at Cambridge or, indeed, can expect at Moseley in the final game before Christmas.

Rosslyn Park’s attendance averages a fairly healthy 614 this season and with the visit of the league leaders it will probably be higher than their previous season’s best of 683. With Coventry’s supporters anxious to get behind their team early doors though, it could be a great atmosphere down there, as it usually is to be fair.

Coventry lost the corresponding fixture last season, suffering a 33-15 defeat. It was the club’s third consecutive loss to a London-based side in the first half of last season and was a tough game to watch for the Cov faithful, one where we really failed to do ourselves any sort of justice whatsoever.

We haven’t got the greatest of records against Rosslyn Park in terms of league encounters, with Park having won twice as many games as Cov (12-6 overall).

For those travelling down to RP, there will be a game already in progress  when they get there, starting as it does at 12.00 pm, so there will be some rugby to watch if sitting in the clubhouse in the warmth isn’t your thing!

If nothing else, it’s an indication of just how useful a synthetic surface is – were we to have one, there would be no need to move the Development fixture away from the BPA for fear of excessive wear of the pitch, even in the wettest of conditions.

The final comment in the preview might be of particular interest, then, to Cov supporters making the journey down:

Indeed, why not arrive at noon when the Fours will be kicking off, at home to Old Haberdashers 2s in a Middlesex Merit Cup Quarter-final. The bars and catering outlets will be open so you can undertake suitable lubrication of the tonsils. We are still cheaper than the surrounding pubs!

Below is a link to Rosslyn Park’s ‘Club News’ – a really well-written and well-presented weekly e-magazine for supporters from which the above is taken.

Park News


It was a very cold at training this evening.

Very cold.

I’ve  now taken to popping across to the petrol station opposite to grab myself a coffee before I go into the ground…it helps stave of the numbness for a while at least.

Training must have started earlier than usual as it was all over by 7.30 pm, with only the kickers staying out any later to get some final practice in before Saturday.

The likes of Will Maisey and young Max Titchener were there, kicking from all sorts of distances and angles, together with Scott Tolmie who always enjoys a warm-down with a bit of friendly competition between himself and the regular kickers. Scott has a heck of a left boot on him and whilst he doesn’t have anything like the accuracy of Will Maisey or Tony Fenner, I’ve seen him frequently make successful kicks from the touchline.

Sam Payne, the Development Squad scrum half, was also out there doing some work on his box kicks long after the others had gone in.

Max’s Dad, Matt, was watching from the main stand, as he always does, and I did feel for him when he said Max will often put in an extra 40 minutes or so after training. I was relieved to be going home earlier than usual, given the near freezing temperature – another 40 minutes would have been hard going . I guess that’s what comes of having a talented rugby player for a son.

It was a lively session and I was struck by the talking that was being done by the players as they went through their routines. There’s always plenty of noise coming from the pitch on a Thursday evening but it was loud enough when the players were close to where we were sitting in the stand for Rowland Winter to have to stop mid-sentence on a number of occasions.


FACTOID OF THE WEEK – Part of the reason why it seemed so loud yesterday might be the result of the intense cold which is known to affect the acoustics.

Sound travels slower in cold weather, so although it’s not actually louder, you hear it for slightly longer giving the impression that it is louder when in reality it isn’t.

For each degree rise in temperature above 0 degrees C, the speed of sound in air increases by 0.6 meters per second.

Perhaps we could put it to the test by using Mark H’s voice in different weather conditions… 🙂

(I see this as becoming a regular feature now….)


As the players were going through what I imagine is the captain’s run, there was a real speed and intensity to it. Not intensity in the physical sense, just the relentless movement of the ball at pace. As soon as a player was tackled, the ball was made available immediately allowing Tom Kessell to fire quick passes left and right ensuring that the momentum was never lost. There was lots of movement, with players hitting the ball at speed.

With the kind of fluency that was evident out there on the training ground last night, confidence amongst the players seems high and there was no evidence at all of any complacency.

RW, sporting a long bench coat that must also have doubled up as a king-size duvet judging by the size of it, was cautiously optimistic, well aware that any team is capable of turning Cov over if we don’t produce our best form.

He knows better than anyone defeat is only ever a game away and  a Cov loss would give the rest of the league a real fillip going into the Christmas break. Coventry continue to prepare thoroughly against each team that it comes up against.

He’s also quick to point out that one of the tests this Cov team will have to face is just how well it responds to that first defeat, if and when it comes.

The Hartpury coach described earlier this season just how hard it was coming in on a Monday morning for training after losing on the Saturday, having been unbeaten all last season. With Coventry making such a great start to this one, RW can see how that would be the case. However, hopefully that won’t be a problem for a while yet and when it does happen for the first time, there are enough experienced players in the squad for the team to bounce straight back.

RW was asked what had been said in the changing room at half time against Plymouth to make the team come out and respond so well to Albion’s spell of intense pressure in the final few minutes of the first half that led to their last minute try going into the break.

The suggestion was from the supporters that it might have been a ‘hairdryer moment’, something that was sadly dispelled by RW…

I’ve often wondered what happens in the half-time break…I can now reveal all.

RW explained the coaches would never have a half time show down with players. The first minute or so after the players get back to the changing room is theirs do as they please, take on fluids, have an orange, pop to the loo or just have a few words amongst themselves.

They then split into forwards and backs and identify what is or isn’t working well and whether the opposition is playing differently to the way they’d prepared for. This is fed back and if necessary the coaches might then get involved, detailing any options from the bench that may be required.

Input from the coaches has been reduced over the last 16 months or so as the players become more confident in ‘self-managing’, which is much more preferable to having the coaches impose changes.

It was good to see Tom Poole out there with the rest of the team last night, not yet involved in any contact, but at least able to do some fitness work. That’s probably sooner than was at one time envisaged in the early days of his injury.

Pete White was also out there, as was Andy Brown, so those players who have been out for a while are starting to return to full fitness and, with Sam Tuitupou available for selection this week, the picture is ( literally) a lot healthier than it was not so long ago.

It will be another tough ask of Coventry on Saturday, but Cov has been strong enough both physically and mentally to deal with any challenges it has encountered so far this season…

As it will be again on Saturday.

Up the Cov.


Smile, lads, you’re on camera


The photo, another of John Coles’ taken on Saturday, is now my screensaver…for the next week at least.

It was taken at the moment the dominant Coventry scrum had just driven through the Plymouth pack to win a penalty.

What makes it such a terrific photo for me is that it captures the real sense of a battle one on the faces of the front row.

Phil Boulton is clearly looking over in the direction of  Eoghan Grace, and relishing every second. Scot Tolmie looks as if he about to break  into a smile and Nathanael Titchard-jones is doing a pretty decent impression of Rocky Balboa.

Behind them, it almost looks as if George Oram and their prop are about to have words, with Nile Dacres ready to jump in if required….

Every photo tells a story…

Would love to know what Phil B was thinking…








One thought on “Rosslyn Park’s preview….training ground update…smile you’re on camera

  1. Interesting read. Rosslyn Park have been Cov’s bogey team. I remember at Coundon Road, when Andy Parton was an exciting full back, a Cambridge Blue turning out for Cov, and we promised so much.
    Yet lost to Park.
    As for the budget? Coventry have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s up to clubs to fund and have ambitions of their own. If there was a cap on the money being spent on teams, there would be a level playing field for all. Sadly, for many reasons, there isn’t.
    Look at Bristol in the Championship, for example. Either the RFU sets a rule, or it doesn’t and if Coventry can use their ‘campaign chest’ to win promotion, then all is good and well.
    But the big issue is that clubs spend money on players, but don’t always get the right response. Look at football and the amounts being spent on players – yet not every club can win the Premiership and not every player proves his apparent worth.
    Coventry need their players to step up from the Plymouth performance and put Park to the sword. Play the rugby, not the off-field distractions.

Any thoughts:

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