Strengthening the bench….

27Oct - by Tim - 0 - In Club talk

I won’t let you down
won’t let you down again
I won’t let you down
won’t let you down again
I won’t let you down
won’t let you down again

PH D – I Won’t Let You Down

giphy55It was cold yesterday out of the sun.

It’s going to be even colder today.

With temperatures apparently not even close to double figures, it’s likely to be warm coat weather for the first time this season, at least for wimps like me who feel the cold more than most. Scarf and gloves too, I expect.

And at about the same time as I get to the ground, Sue will be walking around the farmers’ market in Moseley sleeveless  and jumper free.

But she is from Manchester…

Me. I’m just nesh.

And there’s a slight chance of rain too; it’s going to feel really autumnal.

Today’s the last game before the clocks go back, so there’s every chance that the floodlights will be on well before the game’s finished. The evenings are drawing in…

Hopefully, though, Cov’s performance will be enough to warm the hearts and minds of Cov supporters at the BPA this afternoon. This season has been tough-going for fans at times, especially those who travel to watch Cov, with the team underperforming in all four away games. But with home advantage, Coventry look a totally different side, far more confident and willing to take the game to the opposition.

And so far, Cov have for the most part delivered in front of their home crowds.

Coventry have yet to do what Ealing managed against us last weekend, namely put in  pretty much an 80 minute performance. However, there have been periods in each game at home where we’ve shown just what a competitive side we can be at this level, although even in the games we’ve won we haven’t been as ruthless as we need to be at this level. (I see Nottingham thumped Ealing last night…we obviously took more out of them than we’d realised).

As expected, Yorkshire Carnegie are starting with their two new signings from New Zealand today in bid to end their run of six straight defeats. It certainly won’t be easy for them playing so soon after arriving at the club and you’d hope that Cov’s back row will be relishing the chance in particular to welcome fly half Jade Te Rure to the Championship. It’s a big ask for the newcomer and playing in front of such a loud and passionate crowd will be a good test of  character. The fact that the YC coaches believe they can start him in such a pivotal position says much about his abilities…

…or Yorkshire Carnegie’s current situation.

That said, we shouldn’t be focusing too much on the opposition. If we play to our strengths, then we’ll be more than a match for any team in the Championship  – as London Irish found out a few weeks back.  If we can dictate the tempo of the game then even with the absence of Stokes, Voss, Tuitupou at al., we should be too strong for a Yorkshire Carnegie side that is struggling to reproduce anything approaching the form that saw them finish mid-table last season with 12 wins from 22 games.

Today should see the debut of Coventry’s latest recruit, too.

DSC01397
Biyi Alo was a traveling reserve at Ealing.

A warm welcome to Biyi Alo, a tight-head prop who has experience of premiership rugby with both Worcester and Saracens and someone who will add further competition alongside Luc Jeannot and Phil Boulton.

He starts on the bench, alongside Charlie Beech.

Beech apparently only converted to tight head in the last couple of seasons, so presumably he’ll cover for James Gibbons should it be required, although JB will be making his ninth start from 9 which is mightily impressive, playing the full 80 minutes in 5 of them.

With Biyi Alo weighing in at around the 140kg mark, that’s 22 stone in old money, the replacement front row on the bench is huge, probably in excess of 400kg. To have them coming on as the opposition scrum tires could gives us a big advantage.

The bench might be stronger than most, but under that sort of strain it might be in need of some additional strengthening.

Underpinning even.

It’s not often I look forward to seeing the replacements come on, but in this instance the prospect of Beech, Tolmie and entering the fray for the final 25-30 minutes is an exciting one.

An article in the Daily Telegraph from September 2017, little more than 12 months ago, claimed that Alo was the ‘heaviest player in the history of the Premiership’ at 143 kg, as listed on Worcester Warriors website.

To be fair, Alo claimed he was some 4kgs lighter after having shed some weight, which would have relegated him to the second heaviest…but even so.

Despite Alo’s obvious size, it’s great to see the coaches sticking with Luc Jeannot. The Cov scrum had one of its more difficult days against Ealing last weekend and the general consensus was that Luc did his reputation no harm at all in the first 40 minutes, being replaced by Charlie Beech after the break. The experience he’s gaining so early in his career is going to stand him in good stead and even with the arrival of Biyi Alo and the imminent return of Phil Boulton, I’d be surprised if Luc doesn’t feature a good deal more before the season is out.

Equally pleasing is the return to the match day squad of Cameron Gray. Since his last appearance for Cov, Cameron has been at Chinnor, starting in two games and by all accounts putting in some impressive performances. The decision to allow some of the Academy players to get much needed game time appears to be working well at least as far as Cameron is concerned,  and hopefully he’s another youngster we’ll see more of as the season unfolds. Chinnor are fairing the best of the newly promoted sides in National One and have a strong squad, so for Cameron to be getting a starting spot shows just how well he is thought of there.

Will Maisey gets another chance at 10 after recovering from injury (a finger/hand?). Jake Sharp hasn’t as yet performed consistently enough to ensure he is first choice at fly half, although certainly he has silenced some of his more vociferous critics. It’s Will’s chance today and Cov might need him to show the same degree of control that was so often his trademark in National One.

Conditions should be fairly dry underfoot which hopefully means he’ll be able to get the backs moving, provided the forwards are able to provide him with enough of the ball. Without Sammy Tuitupou at 12, Cov might lack a little defensively, but I thought Andy Bulumakau added an extra threat with ball in hand when he last played at centre.

Against Ealing last weekend, Tony Fenner caused Ealing a few problems in attack before he went off after 25 minutes or so. With no James Stokes again, his presence in the side is a very welcome one and with Junior Bulumakau and Max Trimble out wide, there’s some strong runners in the backs this afternoon. Rob Knox limped off at half time against Ealing so I’m presuming there is still some doubt about his fitness as otherwise he might have been expected to play.

Understandably, Coventry haven’t made much of the presence of Sky this weekend.

Only one tweet mentioning Sky and no images of Sky vans in the car park and nothing on the official website, presumably for fear of the impact it might have on supporters undecided as to make the journey to the BPA or not.

I’m not convinced it will have too much of an effect anyway and Wasps are also playing away from home which always helps. I think the presence of the cameras will actually add to the occasions and I’m looking forward to being part of what will be something of an historic day for Coventry Rugby Club.

I guess the coaches also won’t want to make too much of it because for some Coventry players it will be one of the few times they’ll have played in front of the cameras and how they’ll react is something of an unknown. Hopefully, as is so often the case, the supporters will lift them and the atmosphere will be as good as it always is at the BPA and the tv presence will soon be forgotten.

I, on the other hand, have got a whole new wardrobe for the occasion, have had my hair cut and have made sure that I’ve reserved a seat that should get me plenty of coverage at the restarts…I’ve just got to finalise some sponsorship deals.

giphy56I’m currently in some last minute negotiations with a couple of fast food emporiums. No money is involved but if I cover myself in their logos, let’s just say  I should be enjoying free burgers and kebabs for the next couple of weeks.

Expect me to invade the pitch at some point, wrapped in tin foil and carrying a banner with 5 Guys emblazoned on it…

Some things are worth even more than supporting Cov…

This is Coventry’s chance to perform in front of their biggest audience in decades; a national one at that. A good win might just encourage additional sponsors to come on board, or current sponsors to dig just that little bit deeper into their coffers. It’s also a good opportunity for the team to showcase itself and to remind the rugby world that there is another professional club in Coventry other than Wasps.

If Cov can reproduce the sort of form that has seen us so strong at home, then it could be a very special afternoon for the club.

The last time we appeared on Sky was in 2009  away against Bristol. Other than  Joey Carlisle’s solo effort, the day wasn’t a memorably one for us.

Here’s hoping today will different…

Up the Cov.

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Once again I’ll be tweeting during the game, so anyone unable to get to the BPA and who isn’t watching the game on the tele but wants to receive updates, then the usual info applies.

A reminder that Cov now has its own match day Twitter feed (@CoventryRugby) – mostly just the scores and the main moments in the game, although always informative and of interest.

I should also add that Yorkshire Carnegie has its own too (@carnegierugby ) which provides a very similar service to Cov’s.

However, if you are interested in something slightly different, then I do try and give a sense of the atmosphere/occasion as well providing rather more tweets than from other accounts.

A lot more in fact, so if you’re at home and just surfing the net trying to find out anything you can about the game, this might be a different option.

The tweets, when combined, make a crude ‘commentary’ of sorts and it will be rather more personalised than the Coventry feed – the two might work well together.
Be warned though, you might get well over a 130 plus tweets during the course of the game – so if that is too much, mute me and use the club’s official feed. Remember to switch me back on at the end though, please!

Do bear in mind, I am a bit one-eyed when I tweet. I’ll certainly be fairly emotive I imagine, so be warned if you are following me. A balanced viewpoint isn’t necessarily what you’re going to get.

I’m on @Cowshedtim

Apologies in advance, as always, for some of the typos that appear, it does get a bit frenetic at times and my fingers and thumbs are showing a few signs of wear these days. For some though, the deciphering of the tweets adds to the occasion.

If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me) my Twitter feed can be found on the right hand side. Just click on it to expand the size.

You don’t need a Twitter account to follow it.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, have a great afternoon.

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I remembered the song but couldn’t for the life of me remember who sang it. so I  had to cheat and look it up on Google, although Sue knew it instantly when I asked her afterwards.

If at times this season the players have let anyone down, it’s probably themselves…

…today is a great opportunity for one or two players to strengthen their case for a more regular starting place in the side in front of a home crowd that will be willing them to beat a Yorkshire Carnegie side that has brought in players to try and halt its current slump.

And then there’s the Nilsen/Beech link.

Looking forward to this one immensely.