Fri. May 14th, 2021
(In an earlier post I had unwittingly confused Matt and Max on several occasions – the result of writing in the early hours and me being a bit of a f!ckwit. Sincerest apologies to the Titcheners.)

Dedication. Dedication. Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Dedications what you need.
(Trumpet Solo)
Dedications what you need.

Roy Castle – Dedication

For those over the age of 40, give or take, Roy Castle will be fondly remembered as the presenter of ‘Record Breakers’, aided of course by Norris McWhirter who had an almost encyclopaedic memory for facts and figures and, for a short period, Norris’ twin brother, Ross, who was murdered by an IRA gunman.

Always someone to take on a challenge himself, the multi-talented Castle broke nine world records whilst hosting the programme, most of them involving either the playing of musical instruments or tap dancing. The programme’s theme tune, Dedication, was also sung by him and even today, some 25 years after he last presented the programme, it is instantly recognisable to those who watched it during the 70s and 80s.It was a post on Facebook from Matt Titchener that reminded me of that song…

Max on travelling reserve duty at Ampthill on Saturday

Matt’s son, Max, is a member of the Development Squad at Coventry, a youngster who has certainly impressed many who have watched him over the course of the season. I saw Max play a few times pre-season and in the opening couple of Zoo Sports Shield games and I remember commenting at the time that he never looks rushed, seeming to have more time than most on the ball, as well as being a strong, fluid runner .

He played a couple of games out wide but seemed happier when he was able to be more creative and have a greater influence on the game at either 10 or 15. Tall and with distinctive red hair, he is instantly recognisable on the rugby pitch and having chatted to his Dad a few times, it appears that Max is really enjoying himself at Cov.

We’ve yet to hear how many of the Development Squad are to be retained next season, but given that Max was a travelling reserve last Saturday, it would seem likely that he has done enough to earn himself a second season at Coventry. And, whilst he is already rubbing shoulders with some great players, there is every likelihood that next season he’ll be training alongside an even stronger, more experienced set of players and that can only be good for his own development .

And hopefully for the club’s. too.

Matt had posted on social media a short video of a kicking session that Max had undertaken with the help of his dad on Sunday morning. It was routine stuff really, just a brief clip of Max taking a kick from the half way line. Underneath the clip, Matt had written by way of explanation:

Up doing a couple of hours practice with @Maxy_Titchener1. Here’s one from the half way line (50m) ~practicemakesperfect #SundayMorning


In itself, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. A young and aspiring lad giving up his time to practice some of the core skills necessary for a fly half or full back, putting in the additional hours that could make the difference between ending up a good player or a great one.

But the clip also serves as an important reminder of just how hard even the most talented players have to work if they are to make the breakthrough into senior rugby.  It’s a reminder that success on the rugby field is the result of a great deal more than simply what happens on the pitch or on the training ground.

Max missed out on a game on Saturday with the Zoo League fixture having to be called off after a series of injuries meant that there just weren’t the players available to fulfil the fixture. But rather than enjoy a free weekend, Max ensured that he got some additional practice in.

And to quote Roy Castle,

If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Dedications what you need.
(Trumpet Solo)

It’s not a story that is unique to Max, of course. I’m sure all the youngsters involved in the Development Squad put in the extra hours, more often in the gym I imagine, but with just the same dedication and determination as Max. His is a scenario that will have been repeated countless times last Sunday over the length and breadth of the country.

Dedication, that’s what you need.

And it’s not just the Max’s who are dedicated, either. Families often have to make sacrifices, too, and the journey to the top must be a tough one for all concerned.

So at a time when most of our thoughts are directed towards the achievements of the senior squad, here’s a shout out to the next generation of players behind them, especially those currently at the club hoping to make it into the senior squad.

Watching Max’s video is a reminder of some of the sacrifices that have to be made to fulfil the dream of playing rugby at this level. Few will make it, and there will be plenty of obstacles that still have to be hurdled for those who do.

In my late teens and early twenties, Sunday mornings were more to do with lie-ins and recovering from the night before than they ever were about self-improvement. Even if I’d had the talent to pursue a career in sport, I wouldn’t have had either the drive or dedication to be that focused and I can only admire those who do and respect the families who give up so much to support them.

Over the course of writing this blog, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a number of the parents of players past and present and all have shown an immense pride in the sacrifices made by their sons to get to where they are, whilst never accepting what they too have had to forfeit at times to give their lads the best possible chance of success. In that regard to a man, and woman, all are totally unassuming.

Max’s dad is no exception.


I remember watching Max convert a try from the touchline playing for the Development side against Bishop’s Stortford on the adjacent pitch to the first team. There was a fierce cross wind, yet from the moment the ball left his boot it was always going to sail through the posts. Such were the conditions I’d written off the kick before Max had even placed the ball, but of course I was giving no consideration to the hours of practice and the thousands of kicks that had gone into that moment.

It’s the same with Will Maisey who still spends hours every week practising his kicking.

I’ve always got uptight when a team loses and individual players are singled out for blame. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally there will be comments about players not trying or not giving their all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where a player hasn’t been committed to the cause. I’ve certainly seen games where players have had off games, stinkers on occasions, but never for the want of trying.

Years of remorseless training, often at some personal and familial cost, ensures that a desire to always produce your very best is at the root of everything a player does. Some players are more emotive in what they do, like Pete White, others seem to seldom show their feelings, like Tony Fenner, but both are equally as committed to the cause.

I still vividly recall the looks on the players after the Rosslyn Park game last season when they’d been on the wrong end of a one-sided game.

It hurt…and it hurt because the players cared.

And they cared because they’ve invested so much of their own lives in the game of rugby and they take pride in their performances.


I think that’s what I’ve really enjoyed about having the youngsters around this season.

Just as they have benefitted from being around the senior squad, I’m sure the reverse is also true and at training sessions when the Development side has joined in the Captain’s run and provided opposition for the senior match day squads on a Thursday, on occasions it’s got quite feisty as the less experienced players have been keen to make an impact – quite literally at times.

And some of the senior squad haven’t always been slow in reminding them of their relative positions in the club.

A number of the Development Squad are already in contention for places on a match day, with the likes of Luc Jeannot, Will Priestley, Cameron Gray, Kwaku Asiedu, Kailus Hutchinson and James Neal having made appearances in the senior side. Players like Max, Joe lane and Louis Roach look as if they, too, are heading in the same direction and whilst in some respects the Zoo Sports League hasn’t been quite the success supporters hoped it might, the Development Squad arguably has and there is some real talent amongst that group of youngsters.

Where it goes from here is something I hope will be covered in next week’s (!) fans’ forum. The Coventry Rugby Pathway, which will next season see an U18 Squad introduced, is a really significant part of the changes that have taken place under the restructuring programme undertaken over the last two seasons. If year-on-year the club can unearth a handful of players of the potential of those we’ve seen come through this season’s Development Squad, then it will be a huge success.

Had I been blessed with the ability to play any sport at, say, the level Coventry Rugby Club currently occupies, then it would have been a wasted one.

I’m always a little in awe of people who can give up so much to achieve their dreams, especially in a game like rugby where it’s not just a question of the time they put into training and practicing to be as good as they are, it’s also about the physical pain they endure. Me, I’m a bit of a wuss and whilst I played some competitive cricket once upon a time, any training involved an hour in the nets and a bit longer in the clubhouse afterwards. And certainly no pain, other than a stiff shoulder from bowling rather too many overs with next to no training or a bruise in an unprotected area of the body because I was too slow to get out of the way of the ball.

I don’t have, and never did have, either the maturity or the single-mindedness needed to train as much as is required nowadays no matter how  great my talent. Mine would always have been something of a cavalier approach and whilst there would have been times when I’m sure I’d have been focused, there would have been many more when other distractions would have been of greater importance, most of which would have appalled my parents had they known of them.

Which is perhaps why I unintentionally ended up in the teaching profession. Whilst I was never blessed with an innate talent myself, I did have ability to spot it in others and hopefully encourage them to use it to the full, whatever that talent might have been.

Max’s video was interesting in that it reminded me of what is required if you wanna be the best and if you wanna beat the rest. It takes real dedication and a fair degree of sacrifice over many years and whilst I might get frustrated because a player isn’t on his game on a cold and blustery winter’s day, I’m also certainly forgetting just what he has sacrificed to even have that off day.

More than I ever did, that’s for sure.

And as for Max Titchener, well, he’s got a heck of a boot on him, hasn’t he?


Many thanks to Max for letting me use the clip…

Getting up early on a Sunday morning to spend two hours practising your kicking is dedication above and beyond the call of duty in my book.

And that goes for Matt, too. At least Max gets to do the kicking.

I rather imagine Matt has to take responsibility for the retrieving. Now that is really is dedication…

Dedication. Dedication. Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Dedications what you need.
(Trumpet Solo)
Dedications what you need.


By Tim

2 thought on “If you wanna be the best, well dedication is what you need…”
  1. Hi Steve! It’s that old adage, isn’t it, about practise making perfect? Max has made a great start to his time at Cov. Hopefully, the club will offer him another contract and he can continue to progress. He certainly looks to be one for the future.

  2. Tim wonderfully crafted blog by a wordsmith of great talent. I read many rugby union biographies and presently reading Blindsided Michael Lynagh. His career spanned both the amateur and professional versions of this wonderful game and it is interesting how dedicated he became when the game went professional. From an acceptable 60 percent successful goal kicking as an amateur to an incredible 88 percent as a professional. He practiced for hours each week. My point here is we have Max who already is putting in hours of practice and dedication are the start on of his professional career. I predict a great future for this talented younster

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