Cov’s squad – is 3 the magic number?
(Got to have soul!)
That’s the Magic Number
Yes it is
It’s the magic number
Somewhere in this hip-hop soul community
Was born 3 Mase, Dove and me
And that’s the magic number
(What does it all mean?)
De La Soul – The Magic Number
Just 14 days now until the Coventry squad return to pre-season training.
Just 50 days until the Coventry’s first pre-season friendly away to Bishop’s Stortford on August 7th.
The clock is ticking.
And yet by it seems there are still a number of gaps to be filled in the first team squad and supporters are awaiting further official announcements with interest.
Below I’ve listed the current squad by position just to get a feel of the areas we might expect to see further strengthened.
Whilst I’m pretty sure it’s accurate up to a point, there might well be some inaccuracies, especially in the backrow where there are a number of players who can cover more than one position. So please ignore the fact that I might have included, for instance, Peters as a 6 when he can play across the back row or even at 4 or 5.
Rowland Winter has suggested that Niles Dacres might be more of a 6 this season and it could be that Jack Ram plays 8 on occasions as well as at open-side. It’s all very fluid.
This is also true of the centre/wing/fullback combinations so I’ve simply placed players in what I think is probably their most likely position.
Hopefully, I’m not missing anyone – if I am please do leave a comment and I’ll amend accordingly.
Whilst I’ve not seen any official announcement to confirm this, I’m also including Fraser Dingwall in the squad as he is, I believe, here on loan with another 12 of his 18 months remaining.
I’ve also provisionally included Tom Willis and Tom Kessell, both of whom were mentioned as likely to be available at the end of last season – I appreciate I’m jumping the gun a little but rumours seem to suggest both are strong possibilities, with Kessell likely to be here on a permanent contract.
That’s not confirmed though, before anyone gets too carried away…
Loose-head prop: Nathanael Titchard-jones, James Gibbons
Hooker: Scott Tolmie, Phil Nilsen, Darren Dawidiuk
Tight-head prop: Phil Boulton, Charlie Beech, Luc Jeannot
Second row: George Oram, Tom Jubb, Niles Dacres
Blind-side flanker: Latu Makaafi, Adam Peters
Open-side flanker: Jack Preece, Olly Povoas, Jack Ram
No 8: Ben Nutley, (Tom Willis)
Scrum-half: Pete White, Dave Brazier, (Tom Kessell)
Fly-half: Will Maisey, Ben Palmer, Tony Fenner, Jake Sharp
Centre: Sam Tuitupou, Heath Stevens, Andrew Bulumakau, Fraser Dingwall
Wing: Max Trimble, Rob Knox, David Halaifonua, Junior Bulumakau
Full-back: James Stokes, Tim Bitirim
That would be a squad of about 35 by my reckoning, slightly larger than last season’s but still short of perhaps three of four players in the forwards especially.
With Dacres likely to be playing in the back row, the current squad list includes just two ‘specialist’ second rows in George Oram and Tom Jubb. Adam Peters seems to have the potential to be an even more accomplished Brett Daynes (a pretty useful addition to the squad if that is the case) in that he can play across positions 4. This gives the coaches additional options, but I still think we need one, preferably two, more second rowers to come in if there is going to be both competition for places and strength in-depth to allow for the likelihood of injuries occurring.
No problems at hooker, with all three looking capable of performing at this level, but at prop is just two specialist loose-heads enough in the Championship, especially as Titchard-jones, I think, is untried at this level? Am I missing anyone else here?
That’s not a rhetorical question on my part, I just don’t know – but it is a position that is prone to injury by the very nature of the physicality involved in the front row.
Cov benefited by the rapid progress made by Luc Jeannot last season and his promotion into the first team squad is well-deserved. However, I’m not altogether sure there is anyone who plays in the front row of the same calibre as Luc currently in the Development Squad (I think Phil Akuaku has moved on over the close season?), although by all accounts Tarik Tin has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months or so. That jump from DS squad to a place in the first team is a massive one now we are in the Championship, so perhaps we might yet see another loose-head added to the squad.
The back row seems well covered, although the departure of Luke Narraway to France does mean that there is far less depth at 8 as the squad currently stands. Winter suggested that Narraway’s move has freed up some additional monies and it might well be that he decides to replace the former, Gloucester, Perpignan, London Irish and England No 8 with another seasoned campaigner, although there is still the need for a defence coach as well – unless the club decide to cover that internally.
Me, I’d bring in another 8 as I felt when Narraway was on the pitch, Coventry looked far more solid and his absence, together with Latu Makaafi’s, seemed to coincide with the drop off in form the team suffered after that incredible win away to Darlington Mowden in February. It certainly wasn’t the only reason, but I do think it was probably a factor.
There seems to be plenty of strength in-depth right across the back line with plenty of pace and creativity there. A lot of the players can also play in more than one position and there are at least two utility backs who could be very useful on the bench should the need arise, although with 7 replacements available this season, the coaches have more options open to them.
So, presuming I’m right in including both Willis and Dingwall in the squad, I think we’re looking at perhaps 3 or 4 more additions, with perhaps one in the front row, two in the second row and one in the back row.
I could, of course, be way out, but that’s what I’m going for.
In addition, there will be a good few additions to the Development Squad (I’ll call it that until I’m sure of what the official name is)…
So far it looks as if the following names have been confirmed:
- Will Flinn
- Isaac McNulty
- Max Titchener
- Scott Russell
- Tarik Tin
- Kailus Hutchinson
- Will f
- Will Priestley
- Cameron Gray
- Joe Lane
- Sam McNulty
and several of those either represented, or were on the fringe of, Cov’s match day squad last season. Presumably there’ll need to be another 10-15 names added to that list before the season starts in earnest.
Despite my earlier concerns that maybe there isn’t anyone currently in the DS who could make the step up to the Championship who plays in the front row, doubtless there will be those in other positions who do.
The strength of the DS is crucial to the success of the team and will hopefully provide the full squad with challenges throughout the season, both in terms of selection and opposition against which to genuinely test themselves at times on the training ground.
I imagine we should hear some more news about further additions to both squads in the next couple of weeks. The club doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to announce further signings, so maybe they haven’t yet been confirmed or I’m way off the mark and there aren’t any more players to come in.
Frustrating as it is, it’s just a question of sitting back and waiting…
…something I’ve never been too good at.
I’m still going for 3 or 4.
…after all, it is the magic number.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a researcher from a Midland university asking if I’d be interested in co-writing a history of Coventry Rugby Club.
Cov has been the centre of a fair amount of media interest of late with plenty of positive news flowing out of the club. The time seems ripe for there to be a detailed and authoritative account of the club’s 144 years history.
I did think seriously about getting involved in such a project but I soon came to the conclusion that there’s a world of difference between writing a regular blog on a subject much of which is full of personal opinion and comment and producing a well-researched and informative account of the club’s journey through all its highs and lows.
I just didn’t think I was the best person for the job…
…part of the reason for my decision was the fact that I don’t regard myself as a writer at all and simply don’t possess the necessary skills – at least certainly not to the level required to produce a book of that sort.
A blogger, yes, but no more than that, although I was extremely flattered to have been asked.
Also, to compete such a task would require access to all the archive material in the club’s possession (as well as anything else that others would be happy to make available).
Sadly, I don’t believe that would have been forthcoming from the club given its reluctance to publicly acknowledge the blog over the past three years.
It requires a fresher face, or at least a face that better fits.
Whilst I might be wrong in that, that’s my perception and it was one strong enough to partly influence my decision not accept. I believe my involvement could have actively held back any attempt to produce such a history of the club.
The real plus to come out of this is that there seems to be a interest outside of the club to produce a history of Coventry Rugby Club and from amongst its own supporters, too.
I’m sure such a book would be well-received by supporters and by those interested in the history of the game, too. I’ve long bemoaned the fact that much of the club’s past appears to be kept out of sight of the public – the lack of an exhibition within the clubhouse of memorabilia connected to the club’s past is disappointing in the extreme and something you’d hope the club would address in time for the 150 year celebrations in a few years time.
I’ve included something to this effect in several previous posts of which this is but one:
I know the researcher who contacted me is keen to work on a history of the club and hopefully he will find someone better equipped with the necessary skills, expertise and, indeed, contacts to make a success of it.
The really positive thing is that it is something that could happen in the future, and in the not too distant future at that. If there is anyone interested in getting involved, then I’d happily forward your details to the person concerned…
Hip hop has been notably absent on the blog.
Until today, of course…
De La Soul
Magic Number – 3