Chairman’s Statement – we all must take some responsibility, supporters and Club alike…
Now I can’t let it slip away
So if the man with the ticker tape
He tries to take it
Well, this is what I’m going to say…
Blame it on Cain
Don’t blame it on me
Oh, oh, oh, it’s nobody’s fault
But we need somebody to burn
Elvis Costello – Blame It On Cain
The two incidents mentioned in Jon Sharp’s statement above, published on the Coventry website earlier this weekend, are deeply disturbing.
Any abuse at a game of rugby, whether of the match day officials, players, coaches or supporters, is totally unacceptable and the Chairman appears to have acted swiftly in an attempt to stamp out such behaviour in the future, ensuring it remains very much the exception rather than the rule.
Such action is to be applauded and should it occur again, those ‘supporters’ involved must indeed be banned from the Butts Park Arena with immediate effect.
And preferably for many seasons.
Had the club been able to identify those involved in hurling abuse at the referee on Saturday, one would hope that they would have already been barred, even before the Chairman’s statement. Alcohol fuelled or otherwise, there is no place for that at Coventry, or any rugby club for that matter. Comparisons with football here are specious; this is rugby and what happens elsewhere is a total non-sequitur.
Respect for players, officials and opposition supporters must be sacrosanct if the game is to continue to uphold the core values that sets rugby apart from so many other sports. I’ve always felt safe watching Coventry home or away and to think that there are those who purport to be Coventry supporters who have threatened and abused match day officials and traveling supporters in this way should be an anathema to any genuine follower of Coventry.
Fortunately such incidents are extremely rare, but that is no reason to dismiss them as isolated and fail to respond. The club should be commended for stressing the ambassadorial role we all have to play as supporters of Coventry Rugby Club.
That said, I’m not surprised that there were problems at the Wasps game, though. Disappointed, but not necessarily surprised…even if that does sound as if I’m being smug after the event.
Coventry supporters do perhaps need to reflect on just how much we have all contributed to the divide that clearly exists between the two clubs and whether actually the years of tension between ourselves and Wasps certainly ensured that there was always the potential for some rivalry between the two sets of supporters which might well cross the line referred to in Jon Sharp’s statement.
On almost every occasion Coventry supporters refer to Wasps either on the Messageboard , on Rolling Maul or elsewhere on the Internet somewhere there will be a reference to the ‘cuckoos in the nest’ or, worse still, W!sps – as if by removing a letter and replacing it with a punctuation mark, the word becomes an expletive with all the vehemence and aggression that goes with it.
The same is often the case when referring to Leicester.
I guess it’s meant to be seen as witty or clever (although it’s neither really, especially in the light of what happened at the pre-season ‘friendly’), but these are public forums, accessed by supporters from clubs other than Cov.
It’s hardly courteous or welcoming and Wasps supporters, aware of such feelings being expressed towards their club over a period of months and years, would be justified in themselves feeling uncomfortable in that sort of atmosphere. And it is for the most part one-sided; as of now Wasps have little to fear from Cov.
In itself, it’s a minor thing, but over time such comments can build up frustrations, even resentment, among those outside of the club who are loyal supporters of, in this case, Wasps. I’d certainly be somewhat miffed if supporters from clubs elsewhere in the Championship couldn’t bring themselves to address Cov in anything approaching a respectful way.
I’m not for a minute saying that this is the cause of the incident in August, but I am suggesting that if we truly value the notion of respect that is so implicit in the game we love, then we shouldn’t at times be showing such a lack of it ourselves, however, strongly we might feel about Wasps’ arrival in Cov in 2014.
If we expect supporters to come to Cov and show the levels of courtesy and respect we have come to expect and demand at the BPA, then we must extend to them those self-same values at all times. Anything else smacks to me a little of double standards…
You reap what you sow and to be honest at times I’ve felt as supporters we’ve struggled to nurture a sense of mutuality and reciprocity when it comes to Wasps’ residence in Coventry, or even to each other at times, which is the reason I’ve stopped posting on the Messageboard. I found myself choosing to respond both publicly and privately to threads in ways which, in retrospect, I’m not particularly proud of…
Given recent events and Jon Sharp’s recent message to supporters, now is perhaps the time to put aside any petty misgivings and work with Wasps and not against them…
And if supporters really are still opposed to Wasps’ presence, then why not articulate it in a way that could be seen as offensive by some? Why do that, when you know it causes upset?
And actually, verbally abusing someone for wearing their club’s colours isn’t a great deal removed from writing the name of the opposition as if it were a swear word…
Is it a tenuous link?
Not to me it isn’t.
As a ex-teacher, when the ubiquitous playground fights ended and the miscreants involved had been duly punished, my after-school assembly would always include some well-aimed comments at those who stood around in a circle to watch the incident – they were in part to blame, cajoling and encouraging as they were. As were the pupils who stirred it up beforehand with the unnecessary comments that they knew would get back to the antagonists…they all had a part to play.
Yes, the supporters at the ground making comments directly to the Wasps supporters in that situation are the ones clearly at fault, but maybe there are other reasons that need to be addressed, too.
Or maybe not.
However, whilst as supporters many of us perhaps ought to be holding our hands up to acknowledge that maybe we’ve had a part to play in fuelling some of the obvious ill-feeling that still exist towards Wasps, the club might also need to share some of the responsibility, too, for what happened on the day.
I said at the start of the season that as far as the blog is concerned, I was going to say it as I see it and this is another of those posts that I appreciate isn’t going to go down well in some quarters. But that shouldn’t stop me from saying it, as long as I am honest and respectful in what I am saying…
…I hope it comes across as such.
So, on that disclaimer, I do believe that whilst the match day organisation/experience remains inconsistent, frustrations among supporters are going to increase, and fuelled by alcohol and local rivalry, well it’s a recipe for the occasional incident of kinds mentioned in Jon Sharp’s statement.
Yes, it’s the behaviour of a small group of supporters who have brought the good name of the club into disrepute BUT the roots of the problem might well lie elsewhere.
I always get to Cov early on a match day and tend to get a few laps of the pitch in with Sam prior to the players coming out for the warm up.
On the day of the Wasps game, the decision had been made to block off the walkway in front of the main stand (to prevent those with standing only tickets from accessing the seats). This necessitated anyone coming in at the main entrance to the ground walking three sides of the pitch to get to the clubhouse to reach the bar. It was a decision that bemused one or two Cov supporters…
…and it definitely wasn’t one that went down well with a number of Wasps fans. There was a barrage of effing and jeffing from one group in particular when they were politely asked to go the long way round.
A few drinks before arriving at the ground, a seemingly unnecessary detour (from their point of view) to get to the bar and then probably another wait to get a drink in the clubhouse…not an ideal introduction for opposition supporters who might well be aware of their lack of popularity among regulars at the BPA (see above).
I know supporters like me will have a moan every now and again about aspects of the match day experience and that can get a little repetitive at times, but in big games where there are going to be supporters who aren’t always as tolerant as most Cov fans, and certainly not as understanding, issues like those above can also fuel frustrations.
It only then needs a couple of idiots in the crowd to wind them up and there’s a potential incident in the making. So there is a bigger picture to consider here.
Abuse of the referee or the match day officials is something for which there is simply no excuse and no mitigating circumstances and were there a scale of rugby related offences committed by supporters, that would surely be regarded as a capital one. Boo-ing is one thing, but foul language or threatening behaviour mustn’t be allowed under any circumstances – you’d hope that those around the supporters responsible would be able to identify them to stewards.
We are our own worst enemies at times and we definitely weren’t seen as one of the friendliest clubs in National One over the 8 years we were there.
And now we are at last back in the Championship.
In his statement, Jon Sharp makes the point that:
After a nine year absence we wish to make the strong impression in the Championship that Coventry is a great and welcoming club with a big heart. That is a key message in attracting new sponsors and spectators. We cannot afford to alienate anybody, certainly not RFU officials
Well, it appears we have certainly made a strong impression, but not the one we wanted.
It’s incumbent on everyone involved with the Club, from the bottom up, to address the concerns that the Chairman has expressed. We all have a part to play, big or small. We have prided ourselves in recent years on being a ‘family’-orientated club in the sense that we all belong to the one family that is Coventry Rugby Club. Reputations have recently been tarnished and there’s a bit more bridge-building now needed.
Fortunately, the majority of Cov supporters are very warm and decent people and those on the receiving end of any abuse will see past the very few idiots and recognise the club for what it really is.
Once again, we find ourselves again discussing issues other than the rugby. Two wins out of three and a start than is far better than most of us were expecting and the club is having to deal with trying to mitigate the negatives rather than accentuate the positives. Goodness knows what someone contemplating a visit to Coventry in the coming weeks would make of the Messageboard and club website at the moment, what with this and the sudden departure of Tom Branston…
Nick Walshe and his coaches and the whole squad must be so frustrated this week – the quality of the rugby we watched against Bedford, particularly in that first half, was exceptional – and yet there are no highlights, no video clips and just a brief post-match statement from Rowland Winter; but an awful lot on the unacceptable behaviour of some of Cov’s following.
They certainly deserve better than this…
This, together with Phil Boulton’s citing which seems particularly strange given no-one seemed to notice anything untoward during the game and is something very out of character if true, has made for a very depressing start to the week.
Good. though, to see Darrel Dyer back at Cov again on Saturday…hopefully he stayed behind after the game and gave RW and the coaches the lowdown on his former club, Hartpury.
A little insider trading wouldn’t go amiss – Darrel’s another player who clearly enjoyed his time at Cov; he’s been back on several occasions when he’s not been involved on a match day.
Time for some inspiration…from Elvis Costello.
This is a great song and a fantastic live recording.
Blame It On Cain.
Opted for a version with Larkin Poe – apologies to the Attractions but the Lovell sisters offer a different sort of attraction of their own.
And, besides, this is probably better than the original…Megan on the slide guitar is something else.
Please don’t blame it on me.