Yorkshire Carnegie – don’t stop me now, I’m having a ball

Don’t stop me now
I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don’t stop me now
‘Cause I’m having a good time
Don’t stop me now
Yes I’m havin’ a good time
I don’t want to stop at all

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now

Thought the 8 was good and most tried pretty hard. But some of the decision making and defence was a joke.

Can I watch that every couple of weeks. After 19 years, I don’t know. 

Damning as it is, the above comment (taken from the Yorkshire Carnegie Fans’ Messageboard – TykesRugby.co.uk) seems a pretty fair summation of the game as it must have looked were you one of the poor beleaguered Tykes fans at the Emerald Stadium on Sunday.

It was a performance that, on the day, wouldn’t have won Yorkshire Carnegie many games in National One, let alone any in the Championship. In Coventry Rugby’s pre-season friendlies, Moseley, Blackheath and Cambridge all showed far greater resilience and skill, forcing us to work much harder than the home side did yesterday.

Even in the Cambridge game, a contest that we won 35-0, Cambridge’s defence looked better organised and equipped to stem the red and white tide than Carnegie’s did.

All three would have beaten Carnegie on the day.

Coventry had the game won in the first 25 minutes and at half time, 38-7 up and having already scored 6 tries, we looked as if we might be heading for a record Cov away win. And had Cov not taken their foot off the gas a little in the second half, there was every chance that that would have been the case.

However, Cov appeared a tad complacent after the break and as a result we lost our shape defensively and however poor Carnegie were, they were still good enough to take advantage of several defensive lapses.

Lapses that won’t have gone down well in the South (?) Stand where Anthony Allen was seated, together with Rowland Winter and the other Cov coaches. It’s a good job the stand wasn’t in use otherwise as I reckon there might have been a few choice words to be heard.

The match was played out in front of an empty South (I think) Stand other than for a few of the coaching staff


Anthony Allen looks on during Cov’s 26-66 win against Carnegie

As yet I’ve not seen any attendance figures, but if there were more than 600-650 present then I’d be surprised. And a fair few of those were Cov supporters who had either made their own way there or come down on the Supporters’ Club coach.

The travails of Yorkshire Carnegie these past few months have been well documented elsewhere by those who know far more than I do, or at least profess to. What is clear, however, is that the club is now having to cut its cloth accordingly and as a result the whole ‘Yorkshire Carnegie’ experience for visiting fans isn’t a great one this season.

The ground doesn’t open until 2.00 pm on a match day for starters which means that even as late as 2.30 pm, just 30 minutes before kick off, the place is pretty much deserted. There’s a real lack of atmosphere and no sense of a build up to kick off as you get at Cov, for instance.

Even though the gates are manned well before then, supporters are turned away  so that at 1.50, when we arrived there, we were forced to hang around for another 10 minutes before we could enter.

And when you do at last get into the ground, there’s just one burger ‘street’ bar selling food and a smallish café/bar area open, otherwise there’s nowhere else to go, other than directly to the North/East stands.

Sam becomes the blog’s first hand model…beautifully done.

It is a lovely stadium, certainly the best I’ve visited with Cov in recent years, but when it’s so empty and the quality of the rugby on display is as soulless (most tried pretty hard) as the empty stands, well I can understand why the Carnegie supporter quoted at the start of this post might question his commitment over the coming months.


I have to say though, the North Stand (which was still being built when we last visited earlier this year) has the best padded seats of any rugby playing ground I’ve been too. If the Supporters’ Club are asked for any input into the next phase of the ground development at Cov, I know what will be getting my vote.

If Carlsberg made stadium seating…

Another plus –  £15 to sit or stand is exceptional value (I think it was £24 at the gate at Doncaster last season) and whilst the quality of the rugby on show isn’t necessarily going to be the best in the Championship, those watching regularly will be able to do so in some comfort and without it weighing too heavily on their wallets.

It’s a ground that deserves bigger crowds and one can only image what a similar stadium at Cov might feel like were we to be pushing for promotion into the Premiership.

giphy 50With 7,000-8000 supporters all rooting for Cov against a Newcastle or Ealing side also in contention – well there would be a wall of noise like no other.

And fair play to Mark Harrison  – a combination of his dulcet tones and the stadium acoustics meant that the players simply had to be aware of a Coventry presence in the stands – far more so than a Carnegie one anyway.

In Carnegie’s defence, the stewards in the ground (as opposed to on the gate) were all very friendly, as were the supporters around us. They deserve better. Some of the comments labelled at their club in recent weeks must have really hurt but they remain very amicable and inviting which only heightens their current plight.

One thing I did notice was that the Yorkshire Carnegie supporters seem to be suffering from some sort of identity crisis. We were seated fairly centrally and although there were an awful lot of empty seats around us, there were pockets of Yorkshire Carnegie supporters dotted around. They had little to cheer about to be honest, but when they did get their tails up one group would refer to their team as Leeds, another Yorkshire and another Carnegie – it was all bit odd, really.

Cov are Cov full stop, but on Sunday it was as if there were three different sets of  home supporters. There wasn’t a great feeling of togetherness at all.

Just 10 minutes before kick off…almost mid stand. 

At most grounds you sense that the ‘homees’ know each other, often sharing quips and banter among themselves, but at the Emerald Stadium the home fans are spread far and wide across the stand so that there is little interaction amongst them…or at least that’s the way it seemed to me. It’s almost worth ‘coraling’ them into the middle blocks of the stand to ensure there is at least something approaching a decent atmosphere…on Sunday it was all rather uninspiring and played right into the hands, and heads, of the away team.


As for the game itself, well Cov looked to be in a different league to Carnegie for much of the game – and there are those who would argue that given Carnegie’s financial mismanagement over the last 12 months so, that’s where they deserve to be. However,  that apart, Cov were pretty ruthless in that first half – 6 tries to one up and in complete control other than for the 5 minutes leading up to their try when Carnegie found a bit of form and retained possession to score a deserved try.

There were plenty of reasons why Yorkshire Carnegie might have struggled – a hastily put together squad, more time needed to gel, many of the players very inexperienced at this level and so on and so forth.

And, of course, the simple fact that Cov were just too strong in every department.

Disappointingly, though, we didn’t go for the jugular…

…rather than ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, we needed a burst of ‘Killer Queen’.

In the second half we were nowhere near ruthless enough. Even from the restart the signs were there, with Rob Knox very uncharacteristically being hesitant and caught in two minds, allowing the home side to quickly get up a head of steam. Rob more than made up for it though when he turned Tom Varndell and left him for dead to score a try which was one of the highlights of the game for me.

And as for Rob’s yellow card…

We were still the better side by a distance, but we gave Carnegie the satisfaction of gaining a bonus point, the first of the season for them. Whilst we won the second half 28-19, no disrespect to our hosts on the day, but as odd as it may seem, the scoreline was far more respectable than it should have been.

We allowed them a foot in the door through a mixture of ill-discipline, over-confidence and a defence that started to lose some of its previous imperviousness. Carnegie found gaps and exploited them to the best of their limited abilities – stronger sides would have punished us more.

I expect it was no more than a loss of concentration but it was a little frustrating when we’d looked so good in that opening 40 minutes. Even the bench, again strong across the 8, couldn’t lift the side and failed to make the kind of impact we’d witnessed against Bedford and Jersey, although mention should be made of Tony Fenner who came on for 30 minutes and looked very comfortable.

There were some decent performances across the whole squad and it would be wrong to single anyone out other than perhaps James Stokes who scored 4 of the 10 tries himself.

Stokes looked really sharp and had to work hard for a couple of his tries. He looked a yard quicker at times and on one-2-ones he was unstoppable. Tim Bitirim (who was a Cov player himself for a few months last season and is no slouch himself) was completely skinned for one of his tries. If Stokesy can repeat this sort of form against the better sides, then Cov will have a real ace up their sleeves.

David Halaifonua, fresh from World Cup duties with Tonga, played on the wing but had a quiet game by his standards and perhaps will need a couple of games to get back into the routine of Championship rugby.

The set piece functioned well, although we didn’t dominate the scrum as much as I thought we might. They had a very big front 5 and we did put their pack under pressure at times, but I thought the scrum and lineout were areas in which they competed fairly well. We lost a bit of control in the fourth quarter and two yellow cards perhaps indicates a loss of focus too on our part..?

2019 table

Second in the table is pleasing, but after just 3 games hardly an indication of where we can really  expect to be in a couple of months time. The next three games, against Ealing (a), Doncaster (h) and Newcastle (a) will give us a slightly better understanding of what we can hope for.

Two wins from 3 and a top 4 finish is definitely a possibility – Pirates have already played Ealing (W) and Newcastle (L) at home,  so they really should be our current marker. Cov, on the other hand, have just played the one side in the top six, losing to Jersey, so we should hardly get too carried away just yet.

I’m hoping that the coach to Ealing on Saturday will leave after the end of the England game so that I get to see both them and Cov win.

Now that really would be a Super Saturday.



Good to see Latu and his family in the crowd on Sunday. Many Cov players will come and go over the course of a few seasons, soon to be forgotten in the mists of time…

…Latu won’t be one of them.

How I would have liked to have seen him in a Cov shirt 15 years ago.


Don’t stop me now
I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball
Don’t stop me now

The trouble is Cov were having such a good time in that first half that they kind of did stop, or at least eased off a bit.

Part of the learning curve I guess must be to play to the game plan for the full 80 minutes, an England-esque performance, Championship-style.

Pre-season, a trip down to Ealing would have filled me with trepidation.

Now I just can’t wait.

This will be a true measure of just how far we’ve progressed in the last 12 months or so. On our last visit there, almost exactly a year ago, we succumbed 60-25.

Not this time round.

No way

I’m so looking forward to the Ealing game on Saturday.

Don’t stop me now, I’m having a ball.






3 thoughts on “Yorkshire Carnegie – don’t stop me now, I’m having a ball

  1. ‘Carnegie away may well end up being our biggest score of the season – but I doubt it will be our best performance?’
    Spot on, Alan…the performance against Ealing was on a different level to that against Carnegie…

  2. Yes…agree totally – a capacity of say 6-8000 by the time we get promoted would be ideal, any bigger than that and I don’t think we’d be able to get close to filling it whilst we’re in Tier 2 (and can you imagine the parking until the final phase is completed?). I’ve never really subscribed to the view that Wasps are adversely affecting our numbers; if we keep winning our numbers will increase, irrespective of Wasps’ presence, doubly so given their current form and attendances. I’m with you, I think, in that the performance this Saturday is almost secondary to the result. Realistically, it is unlikely we’ll come away with the win BUT it’s fair to expect a closer game than 12 months ago, surely? The improvement this season is what we should all be looking for…?

  3. The important thing is, no matter how good the stadium and facilities it is worthless if it is too big for the level of support.

    It is why Coventry should develop cautiously. Our 2000-2500 crowd would be ruined in a 12000 Premiership qualifying stadium. So a well designed 6000 stadium would be superb….and give us ample room to develop the fanbase. The theory there are 4000 Cov fans out there hiding around a corner bursting just to follow Cov again is a myth. It will take a long road of clever marketing and community work to swell the numbers, even more so since Wasps arrived.

    The two clubs can obviously help each other out at times. But I love the way Cov Rugby are trying to reforge their own identity. I really do not want Cov Rugby to be seen as some Wasps reserve side….another Hartpury in the league.

    So Carnegie….lots of lessons to be learnt there and I dont think we should have been playing them this year.

    10 trys, but it does sound like trys that were all too easy. The points against is very disapointing and it appears we were very, very, sloppy at times.

    With Ealing on the horizon I am sure the coaches will focus on the bad rather than the good this week? Carnegie away may well end up being our biggest score of the season – but I doubt it will be our best performance?

Any thoughts:

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