You live me up when I know you’re around
God only knows, God only knows
Still you raise me up when I know you’re around
God only knows, God only knows
Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time
Whilst it doesn’t seem to have been a topic for discussion elsewhere amongst Coventry supporters, I have to admit to being a little more interested in the news emanating from Franklin’s Gardens this week than perhaps might normally be the case.
I wouldn’t usually invest too much time in following the departure of yet another Premiership head coach, especially as the news that Jim Mallinder had been dismissed from his post as Director of Rugby didn’t come as a great surprise given the Saints’ recent run of results.
The departure of Richard Cockerill last season from Leicester and Gary Gold this season from Worcester more recently merely underlines just how results-driven the Premiership has become.
No surprise there…
However, the impact of Mallinder’s departure on Coventry perhaps makes it that just that little more interesting.
Rowland Winter’s links with Northampton go back a long way and presumably one of the reasons why Coventry has been able to benefit from the arrival of players like Tom Kessell, Fraser Dingwall and Tom Emery is the high regard in which RW is held back at Northampton HQ and most notably the dramatic difference in Coventry’s fortunes that have resulted since his arrival at the BPA.
Before joining Cambridge, RW was the elite player development group coach at Northampton Saints and an AASE (Academic and Sporting Excellence) rugby academy coach at Northampton’s partner, Moulton College.
The obvious question to arise out of Mallinder’s misfortune is whether Northampton will want to continue to support Coventry as it currently is, or whether the appointment of a new director of rugby will result in a change in direction for the East Midlands club.
Northampton Saints is apparently not going to rush into replacing Mallinder and according to Chairman John White:
(We) will look to bolster our existing coaching group with some additional leadership and experience on a short-term basis for this season
whilst still looking to find ‘a world class successor’ to Jim Mallinder.
Whether Coventry ‘partnership’ with Northampton will feature in the plans of the new DoR is, of course, an unknown but the good news in the short-term seems to be that the status quo will remain for the time being at least.
However, I was somewhat unnerved for a while about a comment made at the very end of an article in The Guardian detailing the sacking of Jim Mallinder, one that has certainly brought home to me how hard it will be to keep Rowland Winter at Coventry if he continues to retain the midas touch he seems to have had these past few seasons.
The concluding sentence to Robert Kitson’s otherwise factual account reads:
It remains to be seen, however, whether Northampton will be bold enough to hand over control to an up-and-coming young English coach with no head-coaching experience.
Having intimated how ‘fluid’ the Midland scene is as far as directors of rugby are concerned and after detailing John White’s comments about searching for a ‘world class successor’, to end in what is such a cryptic fashion is odd to say the least.
I have to say, my heart sank when I read it initially, as from a Coventry supporter’s perspective it’s hard not to associate the name Rowland Winter with ‘ an up-and-coming young English coach with no head-coaching experience’, particularly given his previous and current links to Saints.
Just for a brief moment it sounded like Rowland Winter was to be ‘canonised’ to become a living Saint of sorts.
Of course, having stopped to think it through, whilst RW came to Coventry initially as the attack coach and director of rugby, he has certainly moved away somewhat from the coaching side of things, handing over the responsibility to Nick Walshe who has shown just how adroit he is in that role.
However, having proved successful firstly at Cambridge and now Coventry, the fact remains that just as there must be clubs in the top two tiers casting interesting glances over a handful of our players at the moment, so must there be one or two monitoring RW’s current meteoric progress with more than simply a passing interest…
Just whom Robert Kitson was alluding to when he made mention of an ‘up-and-coming‘ and ‘young‘ head coach is anyone’s guess and actually isn’t of any great interest other than bringing home just how important RW is to the success of this current side. We know he is ambitious, he cited that as one of the reasons why he left Cambridge to come to Coventry, and it’s a reminder that there will come a time before too long when his services will be sought elsewhere should Coventry’s fortunes continue to improve as they are.
I guess that’s just one of the downsides (and there are very few of those) of being a successful side.
My immediate reaction, whilst totally unfounded, was in fairness probably understandable given how much importance supporters attach to RW’s influence on the success of the club and was probably heightened by the years of relative stagnation under previous head coaches.
The links with Northampton have proved particularly beneficial this season and it is to be hoped that these will be continued once Jim Mallinder’s successor is in place. In what seems a particularly promising move, it looks as if Tom Kessell is here for the remainder of the season if the writer of Ampthill’s match report on last week’s encounter with Cov is to be believed:
scoring a try through Northampton Saints first team squad member Tom Kessell who is on loan at Coventry for the balance of the season, former Ampthill player Will Maisey adding the extras
although as it has yet to be announced by the club, then it needs to be treated with some caution (apologies if that is not the case – I’ve been away for a few days).
Aside from my paranoia if, or rather when (!), Coventry is promoted into the Championship, maybe our links with Northampton will develop even further with Saints looking to work even more closely with Coventry, similar in essence to Nigel Melville’s plans for premiership sides to buddy up with those in the Championship…?
Interestingly Saints will:
solicit the opinion and perspective of our senior player group, ex-players and other members of the Saints family…
…so it looks probable that they’ll go for someone well known to the club.
Perhaps even an up-and-coming young coach?
I should also stress though that just as Rowland Winter has made a massive difference to Coventry over the last season and a half, so has Nick Walshe and the one would surely not have been so successful without the other, or indeed without Louis Deacon and Luke Narraway. It’s easy to give all the praise to the Rowland Winter as very much the figurehead, but Nick Walshe’s contributions, in particular,has been massive and his appointment to Head Coach was recognition of the importance he has played in Coventry’s resurgence.
Fair play to Darlington Mowden Park for announcing the postponement of yesterday’s home clash with Coventry as early as it did. When games are called off there are always going to be winners and losers and for those unfortunate supporters who had decided to make a long weekend of it, it was never going to be early enough…
However, at least it meant that the team hadn’t set out and that overnight arrangements on the Saturday for most supporters could be cancelled without incurring too much in the way of financial penalties. It was going to be a gamble as to whether conditions would improve enough over the 30 hours or so between cancellation and kick off for the game to be played, but in the end common sense probably prevailed.
I presume Darlington will end up considerably out-of-pocket, with a strong possibility that the title race might not be as open as it currently is come 24th February with another eight game to play before then, thereby potentially attracting a smaller gate and less revenue.
The conspiracy theorists will doubtless be at work and indeed one of the first things I did when I heard the news was to check whether Newcastle Falcons had an A team fixture that weekend. They don’t which arguably means they will field a stronger side in a couple of months time than they might otherwise have done yesterday.
However, they have to go down to Plymouth the week before which will certainly take its toll and as Sam quite rightly pointed out to me when I tried to argue the case, we need to be beating Darlington full stop, with or without their academy players , if we are going to make a go of it in the Championship next season.
The enforced blank weekend between Ampthill and the Moseley might also impact positively on the number of Coventry supporters travelling to Billesley next Saturday. If they don’t make the journey, they will have been starved of watching Cov for a month before the next home game and that will be tough for those who have so enjoyed watching the team over the past few months; too much to bare for many.
It should be a fantastic atmosphere and with Moseley having lost again yesterday, there’s probably no better time to be playing them. Local derbies are always a little more unpredictable, but with so many Cov supporters making the journey, it should feel home from home for the Coventry team.
And there’s no better incentive for them either than to be potentially going into the second half of the season unbeaten, with a win guaranteeing us at least a 13 point lead – a three game buffer which, in effect, is rather more given the way the teams chasing us have been dropping points elsewhere.
At the BPA.
Who’d have thought it…
I saw them in Sheffield back in 1980 and brought the first couple of albums, Lie in A Day and Reel to Real Cacophony as well as the singles from them. When they became mainstream I got bored and moved on, as was often the case back then…
I’m pleasantly surprised that The Pretenders are performing with them; Jim Kerr and Chrissie Hynde used to be husband and wife, so it must all be fairly amicable these days. I’m presuming that Simple Minds will get top billing – they certainly ought to.
I’m not sure what a sell out is at the BPA when it’s used as a music venue; rather more than the 3000-4000 for the rugby, that’s for sure. Whatever it is, with KT Tunstall as well, it’s more than likely to be sold-out which can only be good news for Cov.
Anyway…here’s Simple Minds’ Once Upon A Time recorded just a couple of years ago, still sounding pretty good to me.
A bit like Cov – you live me up when you’re around…