Hallelujah! The Canucks are coming…Hartpury… Coventry Bears at home today
Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah
Leornard Cohen – Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Canada are coming to town…
Coventry’s announcement earlier in the week that they will be hosting Canada’s full senior squad in a warm-up game before the World Cup qualifiers in November must surely be something of a coup for both the club and for the Butts Park Arena, too?
By agreeing to play Cov, Canada have opened up the door to the BPA to other major teams, both at club and international level. The game is bound to attract a lot of media attention, both national and international, and it’s just the sort of ‘free’ advertising that Cov need to promote the ground further as a sporting venue of note.
Following on the pre-season friendlies, this will be another game outside of the Championship where we can expect a pretty decent crowd and with only 3 home games in total during the whole of December and January, it’s a further much needed source of revenue.
Canada will be a step up from even the best teams in the Championship and it will be another chance for the Cov players to test themselves. There’s always the worry of picking up one or two injuries against opposition that are going to be that much bigger and more physical than we’re used to, but equally it’s an opportunity that’s just too good to miss.
Whether deliberate or otherwise, Rowland Winter’s comments seemed to hint that there might be more than just the game resulting from his discussions with Canada’s coach, Kingsley Jones…
In announcing the fixture on the official website, the club quoted Winter:
Kingsley Jones said they needed a preparation game while we were speaking on another matter, and we jumped at the chance of playing them
I accept that at times I’m a little inclined to read too much into what is said, but ‘speaking on another matter‘ does suggest to me that perhaps there might be more than just the game to come out of the wider conversation.
Sam (my son) reckoned it might be some sort of coaching exchange, or even just getting the Canada coaches in for a couple of sessions to work with the Cov players whilst they’re over here.
Me, I’m far more fanciful than that – I’m hoping RW has been secretly in talks with Jones and the Canadian equivalent of our own RFU to bring over a couple of their star players. In previous seasons, Canada haven’t allowed their players to drop below the Championship, but now we’re here…well, as conspiracy theories go, it’s not a bad one and it wouldn’t be the first time we seen Canadian players grace the Cov shirt, would it?
Whether there’s a follow-up or not, the game itself is another example of Coventry’s drive to attract the best to the BPA.
And on the 5th November, too.
Hopefully, Cov will put on a display of its own to match any of the other pyrotechnics that might be on view that evening. Well done to Cov for pulling this off…and for making it so reasonably priced at just £8 if tickets are bought in advance, or £10 on the night.
£10 to watch the full Canadian squad, against £20 to watch a Wasps A/Development side…again well done, Cov, someone is obviously listening.
Hopefully, a bit of canny marketing and we can bring back some of those who watched us against Wasps but have so far failed to return, whatever the reasons.
Below are highlights of Canada’s recent 28-28 draw with the USA, the first game in a series of World Cup 2019 qualifiers. Former Cov no 8/hooker Aaron Carpenter got himself on to the score sheet.
If this is what we can expect to see, get your tickets bought early!
The Eagles are landing…
(I thought Mick Shaw’s suggestion on the Messageboard that the game should be played in memory of John Cannon was a really good one. John’s passing came as a real shock and in his time at Cov he was probably Cov’s outstanding player. It seems entirely appropriate that we should officially remember him this way…).
Even with the considerable loss of Phil Boulton, Coventry are still able to put out a very strong-looking squad to face Hartpury this afternoon.
I did suggest in an earlier post that Cov might decide that sticking with a winning side would be the way to go and so it seems, pretty much, with only James Stokes returning to the starting squad from the three players who picked up injuries in the game against Pirates a couple of weeks ago. Stevens is on the bench and Big Dave Halaifonua isn’t in the squad at all, presumably still not match fit.
Tony Fenner’s performance against Bedford last week appears to have impressed the coaches enough to give him the nod at 15, no small feat given Stokesy’s return, and Andy Bulumakau keeps Heath Stevens on the bench, and rightly so.
Pete White starts at scrum half in preference to Tom Kessell, a deserved opportunity as far as I’m concerned, with Tom perhaps to come on in the last 20 minutes. I’d like to think the pair of them can do what Harry Randall did to us two seasons ago in a game he won almost single-handedly with two moments of absolute class.
It must have been a tough call between Jake Sharp and Will Maisey, but I guess Jake needs a few more games under his belt to get back to something like full fitness and as Will has owned the 10 shirt for sometime now, a bit of competition might not do his game any harm. He’s on the bench too and with Fenner at 15, Cov also have the luxury of having another player who can fit in comfortably pretty much anywhere in the back division.
Charlie Beech comes in a tight-head and whilst Boulton’s absence is a blow, Luc Jeannot has looked the part even at this level, despite finding it tough in the scrum when he came on last weekend. Nathanael Titchard-Jones looked solid in all his pre-season games so no worries there, either. Jeannot looks to be an exceptional ball carrier and his physicality around the maul is something to look out for.
And at last we see the return of Jack Preece, a real favourite among the Coventry faithful and someone who has been side-lined for the last few games as RW has experimented with a number of options in the back row. Provided Peters is ok at 8, Ram and Preece could be uber-effective at 6 and 7, even though Jack is probably better suited to the 7 shirt. Preece’s experience at this level, for both Rotherham an Moseley makes him a very valuable member of the current squad.
Jack will doubtless be really fired up tomorrow and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him and his namesake dominate at the breakdown…quiet and undemonstrative off the field, he is also the consummate professional off it and he’s a player I love to watch. Welcome back, Jack P.
It’s sad to see Cameron Gray has picked up a hamstring injury, especially when he’d made it onto the bench last weekend and he was heavily involved in Cov’s defence of their line in those last few minutes of the Bedford game. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see Cameron back in action but in Kailus Hutchinson we have one of our most improved players in the last 12 months.
If the BBC weather forecast is anything to go by, and these days it seems to be pretty accurate, we can expect it to be fairly wet tomorrow afternoon, with a 90% chance of rain by 4.00 pm. Even with a 2.30 pm kick off, it doesn’t look great.
There’s not a great deal of shelter at Hartpury, or at least there wasn’t last time I was over there, so it might well be wise to pack your waterproofs and brolly!
I missed the trip down to Pirates two weeks ago, so this will be my first away day of the season.
Just a quick head’s up for Coventry Bears – it’s their last game of the season today, against Hunslet at the BPA.
If you haven’t seen the Bears play, or it’s been a while since you last did, I’d recommend a trip up to the Butts this afternoon. For just £12 it’s excellent value and the Bears’ crowd are always really welcoming.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the games I’ve seen this season and win or lose, the Bears are always entertaining to watch. I’ll definitely be back supporting them next year once the union season is over, or before if the Bears’ games don’t clash with Cov’s.
They’ve had a really encouraging season against some top teams, including the likes of Bradford Bulls, Workington, Oldham and Keighley, teams I can well remember watching in the days of Eddie Waring and co!
The Bears deserve to finish on a high today and against a side that is 7th in league but still eminently beatable, it could be a great afternoon’s rugby…
Since watching the Bears this season, it’s struck me that there really should be closer links between the two clubs other than just a ground share which is pretty much what it appears to be at the moment…hopefully, further links will begin with a few more Cov fans popping down to the BPA this afternoon.
Good luck, Bears…
As always at the games I attend, I’ll be tweeting updates from Hartpury – at the rate of one every 36 seconds or so if I can maintain my average for the season so far!
I’m on @CowshedTim, but if it’s merely updates of scores you’re after, then Hartpury and Coventry will doubtless be providing info via their own Twitter accounts which might suit your needs rather than my more frenetic commentary of sorts.
As always, apologies for the typos/inaccuracies in advance, it does all get a bit fast and furious -I’ve begun to notice that the closer the game, the more I tweet, so hopefully there won’t be so many tweets as in previous weeks (providing it is Cov who are in control).
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, have a great afternoon….
Up the Cov!
Leonard Cohen was Canadian born so it’s not had to justify using Hallelujah in today’s post…it’s certainly not as tenuous as yesterday’s link for sure…
And a quick word on Wreckless Eric…whilst it isn’t unusual for someone to contact me about the choice of music for a particular post, it’s more often about artists rather better known that Wreckless Eric.
So I was very pleasantly surprised when I received a message from someone who follows the blog who not only knows of him, but is a friend as well! Eric is apparently alive and well and living in America…the person concerned is going to forward the post to him.
At times like this, the rugby actually comes second and if someone knows Costello personally, too…well, I’ll have died and gone to heaven 🙂 🙂 🙂
Anyway, back to Cohen and Hallelujah…a little doleful given the context, but when I mentioned to Sue I was going to use it, she said it’s probably quite suitable given how our own ‘Cov-en-tree‘ can sound something of a dirge at times…(her words, not mine, promise).
Still, Hallelujah nonetheless, Canada are coming to town.