Won’t you join together with the band…a note of caution…Tom Poole

13Apr - by Tim - 5 - In Uncategorized
Won’t you join together with the band
There’s a million ways to laugh
Ev’ry one’s a path
Oh won’t you join together with the band
We don’t know where we’re going
But the season’s right for knowing
The Who – Join Together

Another 3 recruits for next season announced yesterday.

Another 3 invited to join the happy band of brothers ( and one or two sisters as well 🙂 ).

A warm welcome to the Cov family goes to Jack Ram and brothers Andy and Junior Bulumakau.

5 new additions in total as of today, covering the positions of props, centres and wing.Before Christmas, Rowland Winter mentioned at one of the evening training sessions that there might be as many as 7 or 8 players brought in to strengthen the current squad next season, even presuming the club who win promotion come the end of the season.

I would tentatively suggest that we might see rather more, with perhaps the need for at least one more second row given Tom’s enforced retirement,  another 2 more backrowers (one to cover Brett Daynes’ departure to Broadstreet and another specialist no 8), a scrum half, a fly half, a full back and probably another centre and wing (one to cover James Stokes and one to replace Anthony Matoto).

The suggestion from the club that Nile Dacres might play more in the back row next season would indicate that perhaps two more second rows might even be required…?

It’s possible we might also need another hooker if it’s felt that Will Priestley, promising as he is, still needs another season to develop.

I’m sure others will see it very differently but I do believe we can expect a few more announcements before the squad is complete.

In addition, I imagine that the coaches will want to strengthen the Academy squad and look to bring in one or two more Ben Palmer-type players who could come into the match day squads as and when required but who will play the bulk of their rugby at the next level down in the proposed Championship Cup and Nighthawk/DS games.

You have to feel a little for Ben Palmer. He would have played regularly for most of the other teams in National One and whenever I’ve seen him this season, he’s always looked a highly capable player. I can’t help but feel that he’ll be moving on next season as he really ought to be playing regular first team rugby, even if that means at a level below the Championship.

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Yesterday’s announcement came as no great surprise as its contents had been predicted several days beforehand by Doncaster supporters on their own fans’ forum. They weren’t overly impressed either – clearly the players are well-liked up there.

Their departures were also announced on the official Doncaster Knights website as follows:

Andy Bulumakau joined the Knights in the summer of 2014 and quickly became a crowd favourite due to his exciting and unpredictable attacking play, highlighted by his winning of the Try of the Season Awards in both 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Jack Ram arrived midway through the 2016/17 campaign from Mitre 10 Cup side Northland and enjoyed a barnstorming debut season that saw him named in the Championship Dream XV and scoop the Knights Players Player of the Season.

Junior Bulumakau join the Club this season, linking up with little brother Andy, and has made ten appearances for the side scoring twice.

We wish all three players the best for the future….except when playing against the Knights of course!

Can’t really argue with the club’s final comment either!

A relaxed looking Jack Ram

Reading Cov’s own Unoffocial Messageboard it would seem that these players are already well known to some Cov supporters but I have to profess they’re not to me. Whilst I have a reasonable working knowledge of National One, the world of rugby outside of tier three remains something of a mystery, although that doesn’t appear the case with some of the contributors on the ‘board 😉 .

All three have CVs that look really impressive and although I’ve heard the name Jack Ram before, I know nothing about him as a player nor have I ever come across the Bulumakau brothers. Clearly others have…

The club surprisingly included a YouTube clip of Junior Bulumakau in their tweet announcing the arrival of the player, something usually left to supporters to unearth. In the past I’ve heard RW speak of how wary he is of such footage and it’s certainly a departure from the norm as far as the club is concerned and perhaps indicative of how Cov will look to use multi-media forms increasingly in its communication with its supporters.

No bad thing either, in my opinion, provided it’s not taken too seriously.

Two of the three latest Cov recruits played against Ealing Traifinders on Saturday in a game Donny won and won convincingly (50-19). Many already see Ealing, currently in second place in the Championship, as next season’s Championship champions-elect – at least amongst rolling-maul contributors anyway. Ealing have a very wealthy and generous benefactor who appears to be determined to bankroll them to the Premiership, with the club allegedly involved in some high profile recruiting of its own at the moment. And good luck to them on that.

Both Jack Ram and Andy Bulumakau started the game on Saturday and both impressed by all accounts.

From the report on the Doncaster Knights’ website

Jack Ram forced a turnover on the floor

which led directly to the first Doncaster try and:

Penberthy sent a looming wide pass out to his left only to be picked off by Andy Bulumakau.

The centre very quickly hit full stride as he raced out of his half with the Ealing back three in hot pursuit. As the cover defence closed in around him Andy produced some trademark Bulumakau footwork to weave through a gap and score under the sticks.

In the second half:

Charley Foley carried to the line and got himself up to the Ealing 5 m line where recycled ball was spun to Bulumakau who reversed his way over the try line

and:

A solid drive put the Donny pack in motion but it just about halted short of the line so Jack Ram took it upon himself to break away and battle over

So, three tries between them. It augers well.

Knights v Ealing – match report

I’ve also included the club’s own highlights of the game so that those interested enough can see the tries for themselves as well as get brief glimpse of what lies in store for us next season.

 

By the look of it, Junior Bulumakau hasn’t played for Doncaster’s first team this season (if  Statbunker is to be believed) although that might be because of his army commitments.

Jack Ram has played 11 times this season and Andrew Bulumakau 12, so neither have been heavily used.

As I mentioned previously – it augers well.

But I’m going to be uncharacteristically cautious about next season, despite the obvious quality of the players coming in to strengthen what is already a strong squad, at least at National One level.

Good as these players are, all too often we’ve seen the club bring in players who have plenty of experience at a higher level to strengthen the current squad, only for things to quickly go belly up.

Rowland Winter has proved he can turn good players into great players at this level and it would be totally wrong for me to label him as another Phil Maynard, for instance. However, this is a major step up not just for the club but also for RW and the coaches, as well as some of the players.

No matter how good the players coming into the club are, or how well the squad this season has played, it is far from likely that we will set the league on fire in our first season in the Championship, this despite the fact that I’ve already read a couple of quotes from supporters of other clubs in the Championship suggesting Cov will be one of the top sides next season.

The success Cov has enjoyed this season might well also be creating a feeling of optimism next year amongst supporters who weren’t around when the club ‘enjoyed’ a number of seasons in the Championship  in which we struggled to get above mid-table, despite what appeared to be some pretty decent squads at the time.

Following a total restructuring of Coventry Rugby Club over the last couple of seasons, I firmly believe that Cov is geared to Championship rugby now. Much is now is in place to enable the club to maximise its current potential.

But that, in itself, doesn’t guarantee success.

It will take time for the players to acclimatise to the demands, both physical and mental, that playing in the Championship will undoubtedly create and I’m expecting nothing more than a bottom half finish, whilst avoiding an end of season relegation battle.

That for me would be a successful season and one on which we can continue to build in the seasons to follow.

Nick Walshe was backs/attack coach at Gloucester for two seasons, but other than Nick the coaches are relatively untested at this level – but what we do know is that the current coaching set-up, and I include the support teams led by Max Hartman and Hannah Walker in this, has the potential to go to the very top.

The potential.

But let’s not expect too much of them straight away however well we recruit this summer, even on the back of such a solid performance over the course of this current season.

The encouraging thing for me is that there will be a number of players who joined the club back in 2016 who will be hungry to prove themselves in the second tier of English rugby. Some will have dropped down from the Championship having been unable to hold down a regular place at a relative early stage in their careers, others will have come to Cov having never played at that level. All will be keen to prove a point or two next season. That hunger, that desire to test themselves, could yet be important in determining how our season unfolds.

And if it’s true of the players, then it will also be true of the coaches, the club and of the spectators.

The fans at Coventry are the best in the division. Not individually, for every club has supporters who show the same intensity of passion as even the most committed of Cov supporters. But collectively, well that is different. We’ve been a league apart for the last 8 seasons.

Will that be the case in the Championship?

To be honest, probably not.

I remember teams like Bedford and Pirates having some great supporters who travelled in numbers, just as we have done in National One. Just how much of an impact our supporters will make, especially away from home, remains to be seen but wouldn’t it be good if we could take two coaches to most of our away games? One thing that I can guarantee is that if it’s possible, then the Supporters’ Club will do their damnedest to make it happen.

Championship rugby beckons and everything I’ve seen and heard makes me believe that Cov’s intention is to bring together a squad capable of achieving a top 4-6 finish in the next 3-5 years. Of course ring-fencing of the Premiership might well change that target, although realistically Cov just doesn’t have the financial clout to buy its way into the Premiership in one or two seasons, even supposing it wanted to.

No, I think we can expect two or three seasons of consistent growth both on and off the field, perhaps with a new playing surface and changes in the infrastructure and/or ground to maximise revenues in an effort to develop the playing side of the club yet further. Exciting times indeed, but I don’t believe Jon Sharp or the Board will do anything to risk the financial security of the club which they have worked so hard to achieve.

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There was sadly a certain sense of inevitability about the announcement of Tom Poole’s retirement earlier in the week. The seriousness of his injury became more apparent as the weeks went on and in the end Tom’s decision to put his health and well-being ahead of his desire to play rugby, and play for Coventry Rugby, Club looks to be the only real option.

There’s a certain irony in the reason for Tom’s enforced retirement, given that the tag line to his Twitter account is:

Former World’s Strongest Neck 2016 | Sine Metu

It was a weakness in his upper back that in the end caused him to stop playing.

Having had a similar problem myself, one that cost me a year’s schooling, two quite major operations, and not a little discomfort ever since, Tom’s decision looks to be absolutely the right one.

I did enough Latin at school to know that ‘sine metu’ translates as something like ‘without fear’ and as post-rugby playing epitaphs go, there isn’t one that is better suited to Tom Poole. Tom brought real physicality to any game in which he played and it was no surprise when he was one of the few players that Rowland Winter retained from the squad that was broken up when Scott Morgan departed. (And incidentally, doesn’t Scott’s message on the Messageboard some 15 months ago now look a little ill-judged  – it would be interesting to know what he thinks now).

Tom Poole showing just how much losing hurts…the photo was taken after the defeat down at Blackheath last season…

He and Tom Jubb were imperious in the second half of last season and even with the introduction of Nile Dacres and George Oram this season, had Tom remained fit he would have pushed both for a regular spot in the match day squad. Having been at the club since 2012 (hard to believe, I know), Tom is more aware than most of what it means to be a part of Coventry Rugby Club and, rather like Brett Daynes and Matt Price, he earned the respect of the supporters both for his efforts on the pitch and for his undoubted loyalty to the club.

The fact that he will remain a Coventry supporter even now his playing days are over merely reinforces his commitment to the blue and white jersey and I’m sure he won’t need to buy a drink in the clubhouse for a good while yet, such is his popularity.

Like everyone else, I wish him all the very best in the future and, who knows, maybe we’ll see him get involved in some sort of coaching role at the club in the years to come?

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Coventry Squad 2018/19 – latest update

 

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Kind of works well, does this…

Won’t you join together with the band…

We don’t know where we’re going
But the season’s right for knowing

And Townsend and Daltrey are something else in this video. Never saw The Who live but watching this, I wish I had…

5 thoughts on “Won’t you join together with the band…a note of caution…Tom Poole”

  1. Tim, another excellent read. You are right not to trust statbunker about Junior Bulumakau making no appearances for Doncaster this season, trust your own article where one of the quotes says he has made 10. He also plays fullback for the Army so can offer much needed cover for Stokes. I think both brothers can offer something similar to what Matoto gave us on the wing and in the centre. Jack Ram looks really impressive. Three useful sightings.

    What a shame about Tom Poole. A great Blue n White, but a sensible decision for future health. I wish him luck with his career outside rugby.

    1. Hi Alan…thanks for pointing out the anomaly regarding Junior Bulumakau! I’m cross with myself because I completely forgot the disparity between the club statement and Statbunler….the result of writing in the early hours I guess! The cover for Stokes is really important to mention as well, I didn’t know that! I’m glad your in the ball! Totally a case of mea culpa…

  2. TOM IS A TRUE BLUE AND WHITE HERO. I Was lucky enough to see the Who, Rolling Stones and Van Halen at Charlton FC. Absolutely Fantastic. Join Together should be our anthem

  3. Like Steve, enjoyed the clip of the Who. I probably saw the same visit to the Locarno and remember Keith Moon kicking the drums off the stage and Pete Townsend sticking fireworks in the amps. At the end of the night you could not see the stage. What A night!! Yes great pity that Tom has had to finish, but, what a servant to Coventry rugby club.

  4. Great shame about Tom Poole. He is a big loss to Cov. All the very best to him in the future. Enjoyed the clip of the mighty Who. Saw them at the Locarno back in the day, they were truly tremendous.

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