Yorkshire Carnegie: you gotta carry that weight…

26Oct - by Tim - 0 - In Club talk

Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitation
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

Lennon and McCartney – Carry That Weight

This weekend’s game against Yorkshire Carnegie is another one where, on paper at least, you have to believe Coventry have a real chance of taking the points – and hopefully all five.

Our form at home and theirs away make is hard to come to any other conclusion. Or so the theory goes.

Carnegie have won just one game this season, have conceded more points than any other team in the league and are in danger of being left adrift at the foot of the table should they lose tomorrow.

Like Cov, their away record is poor, losing all four games so far. So, with another 2000 plus crowd a possibility, even taking into account Sky’s presence (Channel 407 if you want to press record), home advantage should give Cov another big advantage.

A win for Cov then.

If only it were that simple.

Unfortunately I don’t have Sky, although mum does which means  I’ll have the best of both worlds really – a seat in the main stand to watch the game itself and a seat in front of the fire to watch a recording of it later in the week.

It’s a win/win situation..

…hopefully.

Paddy Power has Cov as 1/8-on favourites, unjustifiable odds whichever way you look at them and the £5 I’ve invested this week could win me the magnificent sum of just 63p.

Cov are still only 10/11 to win by 14 points or more!

One to steer well clear off this weekend, unless of course you’re a mug like me.

As you might expect, I’m certainly nowhere near as confident as those odds suggest I should be and as we’ve already seen this season, playing against team below us in the league has proved anything but straightforward. In fact, I think  the only team we’ve beaten below us at the time has been London Scottish.

Yorkshire Carnegie are very much the injured animal at the moment, cornered and fighting for their Championship survival already. And there’s no more dangerous a situation for an opposition team.

Like Hartpury and Richmond before them, Yorkshire Carnegie must have targeted tomorrow’s game as something of a must win and as this is the last game before the start of the cup competition, they’ll be desperate to go into the break on a high.

The visitors have already begun to recruit some more players in the hope of turning their season around and the latest two players, both from New Zealand, arrived in Leeds on Wednesday and were expected to take part in training yesterday – so the likelihood is that either one or both will take some part in the game on Saturday:

It will take them a while to settle, but having two new players involved might just given YC the lift they need. Whilst Cov have looked a completely different side at home to the one we’ve seen on their travels, they’ve still have a couple of wobbles at the BPA and even if we’re focused for the full 80 minutes, they could still be a real threat.

Coventry have done much the same, taking on two new acquisitions themselves in recent weeks – Dan Faleata and Biyi Alo. What isn’t clear in terms of the Cov recruits is whether they are a short-term response to Coventry’s inconsistent start to the Championship and their current injury concerns, or  a part of a longer term strategy to build for the future.

The latter I imagine…?

They won’t be the last, either.

Not surprisingly, both sides have chosen to promote the game on their own websites through Phil Nilsen, a player who has graced both clubs. Yorkshire Carnegie have used an image of Phil (see below) in his Yorkshire Carnegie days as the header for the game:

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Coventry, as social media savvy as any team in the Championship these days, have a Paul Smith video interview with him as part of their pre-match build-up..

Now in his second season with Cov, Phil has become a really popular figure both on and off the pitch and whilst there is strong competition for the 2 shirt even without an injured Darren Dawidiuk, it looks like he’ll be hooker against his former side tomorrow.  Phil only made 13 starts from a possible 30 last season, yet already he’s made 6 from 8 and likely 7 from 9 after tomorrow, an indication of just how consistent he’s been since September.

I’d still like to see him lead Coventry out against his former club, whether as captain or otherwise. It must have been a hell of a wrench to leave a club you’ve been at since you were just 17 and for whom you played almost 200 games, yet Phil has committed body and soul to  Cov since his arrival. He’s not the only one to have done so – Sammy T and Phil Boulton  have done something similar, but against Yorkshire Carnegie I do think it would be a well-received gesture on the part of the club.

It’s Phil last season in the game, after all.

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(Much of the information below comes from Almostatyke’s post on their unofficial messageboard)

YC seem to be a club in turmoil at the moment and some supporters have understandably become extremely frustrated by the club’s downward spiral into what they fear might be a terminal decline as far as Championship rugby is concerned.

There have been one or two pretty despondent posts on Twitter although the Messageboard itself is remarkably upbeat considering – I’m not sure ours would be in a similar situation.

Despite some negativity, whatever the criticisms levelled at the YC Board from some quarters, the directors appear to have done a lot in recent years to keep them as competitive as possible. A post briefly outlining the content of a recent  Supporters’ Meeting  suggests directors have invested £6m over the past 4 years just to cover losses and the club just isn’t in a position financially to bankroll a challenge for promotion.

The club’s salary budget is £1 million with 35% of that paying the wages of a number of injured players. However, the directors have given the go-ahead to bring in further players with the plan being to:

use the Cup window to bring in Premier-quality players and mould them into a team, with the stronger team starting in the Championship from the Donny Christmas match

so by the look of it we can expect to see a much stronger Yorkshire Carnegie in the second half of the season.

Apparently, YC’s ground is the biggest rugby-only  playing stadium outside of London and this season the rental has gone down slightly which must be unusual, if not unique, amongst clubs who don’t own their own ground.

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Mark Foster’s analysis of the performance of newly promoted teams  in their first season in the Championship in recent seasons made for interesting reading and shows Coventry to be performing better (in terms of games won) than any team other than Doncaster in 2014/15.

After winning so many games last season, losing more than you win is always going to seem disappointing, but Mark’s stats do show things to be a little better than they’ve felt at times over the last couple of months.

Following on from that, on Rolling-maul.com, a Bedford Blues supporter did an excellent breakdown of the number of points achieved by the 12th, 11th, 5th and 4th teams over the last 7 years.

Teams in 12th place (ie those relegated) averaged just 23 points for the season, although this was skewed slightly by Rotherham only managing 14 last season, while those in 11th place averaged 32.

No relegated team has scored more than 28 points in the last 7 seasons.

Teams in 5th place have average 62 and in 4th place 66.

Coventry are currently on 17 points and with the decent possibility of another 4 or 5 tomorrow, to finish on 22 points after just 9 games would make for an excellent return, even taking into account some of those performances away from home.

17 would certainly be no disgrace…

The newly promoted side finishing with most points, Doncaster Knights in 2014/15, only managed 43 points.

The disappointing thing is that, irrespective of the result, we haven’t done ourselves justice in three of the games; those against Hartpury, Richmond and Ealing. They have added to our frustrations, but that’s partly down to the high standards that the club has set itself over the last two seasons.

One thing is crystal clear though, we can’t keep relying on our home form to dig us out of trouble. Sooner or later we’re going to come unstuck at the BPA (not tomorrow, please) and I reckon we’ll need a couple of away wins over the remainder of the season to ensure that we keep ahead of the bottom  three or four clubs.

Much now is down to the coaches over the next few weeks. This season’s cup competition is new to all DoRs and Head Coaches, so no club will have a real advantage in terms of knowing how to use players over the next 7 weeks in readiness for the resumption of the Championship just before Christmas.

In that sense it’s a more of level playing field, so it will be interesting to see how clubs react to the cup – will it be  a time to blood new players or try untested combinations? Will we see some clubs make wholesale changes whilst others just tinker around with the first team squad…?

It will be a real test, especially for teams like Yorkshire Carnegie that have struggled up to now. Can they play catch-up over the next few weeks by blooding their latest recruits and getting them embedded into the side by the time the cup competition gives way to the next instalment of Championship games? And more specifically, will Cov choose to rest key players and give some of the Academy youngsters a run out alongside other more regular first teamers, as well as phasing back the likes of Dawidiuk, Voss and Halaifonua?

I know I’m very much in the minority but I’m really interested to see how clubs respond to what many supporters across the Championship feel is a competition that carries little value whatsoever..

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Whilst I’m obviously hoping for a decisive Coventry win tomorrow, Yorkshire Carnegie aren’t a side I want to see relegated. I remember the days back in the ’60s and ’70s when Cov would host Roundhay and Headingley, both clubs that were precursors to Yorkshire Carnegie – with Brian Moore starting out with the former and Peter Winterbottom the latter.

Carrying the weight of expectation over the course of the next few months is going to be tough for them, as it will be for us.

This, then, is for both Coventry and Yorkshire Carnegie.

The version of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End below has Paul McCartney playing alongside Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Phil Collins. As super-groups go, it’s not a bad line-up.