There’s talk on the street
It sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you
People you meet
They all seem to know you
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new
The Eagles – New Kid In Town
Anyone who is a regular reader will know that I’m rather fond of a decent burger before watching a game of rugby.
Actually, a full stop after the word ‘burger’ would be rather more honest.
I’d go so far as to admit I’ve even done a little research over the three seasons the blog has been running and would probably have to say that Esher has thus far provided the best offering, although there has been some pretty decent competition, although sadly not from Cov if truth be known.
That said, just across the road at 17 The Butts, Istanbul remains hard to beat.
On several occasions in the past, I have tried hard ro wean myself off the double quarter-pounder with cheese (and fries obviously) but to no avail and even the weekly BA sessions (‘My name is Tim Smith and I’m a Burgerholic’) haven’t proved the success I’d hoped for.
However, I’m pleased to say I won’t be partaking of one at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday following their tweet earlier in the week.
And if other clubs follow suit, I might be able to keep off the statins for a good few years yet:
Now I have no wish to add to the ubiquitous north/south divide debate and the whippets v striped blazers stereotyping that still persists, but really…
‘Forget sausage baps‘?
And I have to say, a bit of diced olive and a couple of basil leaves doesn’t make anything ‘gourmet‘, does it?
Still they know their audience and if that’s what sells, good on ’em, but I can’t see the average BPA punter who’s happy with pie and peas or a pork batch, queuing for a pizza – gourmet or otherwise.
Or maybe I’m just too out of touch these days.
As you can tell, mild-mannered I might be, but there are some things that get my hackles up…
… and gourmet pizza being ‘the new ultimate spectator snack‘ is definitely one of them.
I showed the tweet to Sue who is ever the voice of reason in our household and after picking herself up off the floor, her response was something along the lines of:
if you stick the word ‘gourmet’ in front of any item of food, you’re giving yourself license to add a couple of quid to the cost
Not quite the counter-argument I was hoping for…
I was full of admiration for the club when they came up to the BPA and so very nearly ended our unbeaten run – theirs was a whole-hearted performance that did them much credit. They played with pride and passion and weren’t in the slightest bit phased by the atmosphere or the quality of the opposition.
But I go down to Silver Leys on Saturday with some misgivings – that and, of course, a Tesco meal deal (sandwich, fizzy drink and a packet of crisps for £3.00).
Nothing in the slightest bit gourmet about it and as cheap as…er…chips without the burger.
Still, it’s not all bad.
No mention of blazers…
All said in jest I hasten to add, but I will forego the pizza all the same.
However, I’m sure I will find someone on the coach on the way back who will have sampled Bishop’s Stortford’s ‘gourmet’ wares and, when I do, I will report back and redress the balance should it be necessitated.
At last week’s training Rowland Winter mentioned to those supporters there that a further 3 players would be brought into the club before deadline day (which this year is 23rd February) – a back row, a centre and a prop.
Paddy Ryan was actually training that night and would have played for the Development Squad on Saturday against Esher had the game gone ahead.
He certainly looked to be keen to make his mark, putting in a couple of big hits even though on training days the level of contact at a training ground session shouldn’t be much more than 50% of that of a match day. He looked big and quick and more than ready to answer the call.
Listening to Cov’s DoR that evening, I got the impression that he had been brought in to be very much a part of the match day squad of 20 and that it won’t be too long before we see him playing in the senior side.
As of last week, it looks as if Olly Povoas could be out for a few weeks yet, so Paddy will presumably be a replacement for him in the short-term. With Waita Setu’s return seeming to be delayed even further, Paddy could get a decent amount of game time whilst he’s with us.
What’s been really noticeable under Rowland Winter is that hasn’t brought in a loan player yet who hasn’t looked the part. The likes of Jack Willis, Owain James and Tom Howe all did well whilst here last season, as has Fraser Dingwall and Tom Emery this (and Gabriel Oghre for the short time he was with us). Freddie Tuilagi never quite excelled as we’d hoped, or at least I’d hoped, but that was more in anticipation of the name than of the player himself, good as he was when he was here.
So the bar has been set pretty high and I’ve no doubt Paddy will be in the same mould.
According to the Saints website, Paddy is just over 6ft and weighs in at 17 stone, so he’s likely to have a real physical presence to him.
From the Saints Academy’s player blog:
Born in Kildare, Ryan played for Leinster at Under-17s, Under-18s and Under-19s as well as playing schools rugby for Newbridge before making the trip over the Irish Sea to join Saints as an exciting back row prospect.
Turning out in black, green and gold for the first time during Saints’ preseason fixture with Nottingham, the young back row wasted no time in getting on the score-sheet coming cleverly off the back of a maul to dink round Nottingham’s defence and score.
The question was asked at the training session last week as to whether any of the three incoming players would be permanent moves, to which Rowland Winter replied that two would be until the end of the season and the one was undecided. Given that Paddy is already attached to the Saints Academy, I would venture to suggest the possible permanent option is unlikely to be him.
The second of those players to be brought in we now know to be Ravai Fatiaki.
Ravai has come to us from Leicester Tigers where he’s been since September of last year. Prior to that, he was at Worcester Warrior from Dec 2011 until July 2016 where his record was as follows:
Unfortunately, it appears as if his chances at Tigers have been limited this season to just one appearance off the bench in the LV Cup.
I’m guessing here, but it seems likely that Alex Grove will have played alongside Ravai given he was there for all of the time that the Fijian was at the club, other than for a season long loan to Edinburgh.
According to Wikipedia, Ravi also joined the British Army:
playing professional Rugby for the Army and appeared in the starting line up of the 2017 Army v Navy.
If that is correct, then maybe there’s another connection with a Cov player, Nathanael Titchard-Jones perhaps.
Ravai’s arrival again makes good sense given the injuries that have befallen the Cov centres this season. Alex Grove himself is only just back from injury and Heath Stevens and Sam Tuitupou look set to be out for a good few weeks yet, so to bring in someone with the experience of Ravai Fatiaki would seem eminently sensible, providing cover for both Grove and presumably Matoto, too. He can play 10, but most sources have Ravai listed as an outside centre, although Richard Hill, the former Worcester Warriors Head Coach said of him:
He is bright and has picked up what has been asked of him…Ravai is a big, powerful man who has good hands and a rugby brain. He can also play both 12 and 13, which is an advantage
Should either of the current Coventry incumbents at 12 and 13 sustain any injury (Grove and Matoto), it would presumably mean Tony Fenner deputising as he did earlier in the season, which then leaves us short with cover at 10, especially with Ben Palmer picking up a knock at Blackheath. I’m sure there are other permutations available, but Ravai’s arrival does give us more options.
From the clips on YouTube (see below for an example) and the little I’ve read of him, he’s not too dissimilar in his play to Sam Tuitupou – which makes him ideal cover.
Since his return from injury, Anthony Matoto has played a fair few games and given the physicality of his play, perhaps he could be given a brief rest in the run up to the crunch games against the likes of Ampthill, Plymouth and Darlington.
Or maybe not.
But at least that option is now available with Ravai’s arrival.
A few images of Ravai from a quick search on the Internet:
Rowland Winter did suggest that one of the three players coming in ‘might’ be here next season. Perhaps of the three, Ravai is the Mr Might-he? Assuming that here’s with us to the end of the season, that could give the club a decent opportunity to have a good look at him. It won’t be as if he’s an unknown quantity, especially with the Alex Grove connection at Worcester, so bringing him in now suggests that might be a possibility. A player who has made 35 appearances in the Premiership, has been capped several times for his country and still has a good few years left in him yet is probably someone who has all the credentials to play Championship rugby.
What it definitely does do, however, irrespective of whether he’s here next season or not, is send out a clear message to the rest of National One that Cov are not resting on their laurels.
Heading the division by 10 points they might be, but Cov have no intention of sitting back – competition for places has just increased yet again and that is sure to keep the players on top of their game and if there was any complacency, then the loss against Blackheath and some quality additions to the squad are certainly going to put an end to it once and for all.
With Cov having a two game advantage in effect, they are very much masters of their own destiny now and by bringing in 3 more players, at least two of whom are definitely going to add to the quality of the current squad, the club looks as if it has every intention of relying on its own fortunes, rather than depending on the misfortunes of its rivals.
There are a few clips of Ravai Fatiaki on YouTube but I thought I’d just include this one as it highlights exactly what the clip is exemplifying which makes it much easier to follow than some.
It is getting on for 7 years old, but even so…
The video certainly seems to highlight the support work he gets involved in, playing almost as a flanker at times.
A warm Cov welcome to both Paddy and Ravai and here’s hoping that however long they are with us for, they will leave with happy memories of the club and its supporters.
There are two new kids in town and another one still to come, perhaps and:
There’s talk on the street
It sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you