Ampthill tomorrow…A snap decision for Cov youngsters

Right behind is the Ant Hill Mob in their Bullet Proof Bomb
The there’s ingenious inventor Pat Pending in his Convert-A-Car
Oh! Here’s the lovely Penelope Pitstop, the glamour gal of the gas pedal

Wacky Races Intro Theme

AmptTomorrow sees Cov involved in what is in effect Round 2 of the Championship Cup, with the next 3 weekends deciding the make-up of the quarter finals timetabled to take place towards the end of February.

 

After the opening three games in Pool 1, Cov are handily placed to qualify for the knock out stages, but a slip up against visitors Ampthill this weekend would mean a very different scenario going into next week’s game against Bedford.

Champ Cup table

Despite the importance of the game, the coaches have rung the changes somewhat to allow a number of players the chance to take a well-earned rest, whilst also blooding some of the youngsters, offering them the chance to stake their claim for a more regular match day place in what is arguably the most competitive Cov squad for many a year.

Other changes include the return of Ben Adams and a first appearance for Henry Purdy.

I say ‘rest’, although as Rowland Winter points out on the offy site, it’s more a case of rotation. Rest suggests those players not playing will be off duty for a few days. whereas in actual fact:

The players who have been preparing the first team for the last block now have the opportunity to shine, and those who have been regularly playing get to return the favour and help prepare the boys to make sure we have a top performance against Ampthill

Stokes, Jennings, Boulton, Burrows et al appear to have had an important part to play in the build up to tomorrow’s game. Just as those coming into the side for the Ampthill game have played their part to support the regular first team squad so far this season, those senior players ‘rested’ for tomorrow will have repaid the favour over the last few days.

Everyone has a role to play whether or not they are part of the match day squad, even those on loan at clubs in the lower leagues. Collegiality, corporate responsibility – call it what you will – everyone is expected to play their part.

James Martin, for instance, probably has a busier time than most, every week training with both Cov and Cambridge.  But in so doing, as RW recognises, he’s still been very involved in Cov’s successful start to the 2019/20 season.

It also means that although Adams, Jeannot, Lewis, Flinn and Martin are all making their first appearance for Cov’s senior side this season, they have all taken part in many of this season’s training sessions and so will be familiar with what is expected of the players on a match day both on and off field.

The fact that RW and Nick Walshe can turn to so many youngsters and play them in what is still a very important game for Cov is proof positive that the club’s investment in the Academy/Development Squad is already starting to pay dividends.

It also means that the  coaches can work with a relatively small first team squad post Christmas after they’ve had a good look at all the players in the senior squad and pared it down slightly.

They also have the option of quickly recalling some of the youngsters who are currently out on loan should injuries or a loss of form necessitate such a move, knowing that they have been working with the senior squad on a regular basis and therefore able to quickly slot into the side whilst also getting plenty of competitive rugby in the league below.

The really encouraging thing about tomorrow’s squad is that alongside the likes of Martin, Lewis and Will Flinn are some incredibly experienced pros, the likes of Tony Fenner, Rob Kox and Henry Purdy, players who will be able to take some of the pressure off the youngsters if required.

And on the bench, other than the  hooker who is on loan from Leicester  to cover for injury, there’s a wealth of experience to come on at a time when many teams might well be starting to tire.

For me, this is a really exciting match day squad – a hint, perhaps, of what the future holds as Cov continues to develop its youngsters to ensure there’s a conveyor belt of talent coming through the club’s ranks.

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When we first joined the Championship there were a number of supporters who were extremely vocal in their dislike of the Cup competition.

I was never one of them and I still maintain even though it means we play three teams four times over the course of the season, it offers Cov the chance to experiment with sides they wouldn’t normally select for the Championship proper and the chance for supporters to see Cov players who might otherwise be playing their rugby elsewhere.

Cov is Cov. No matter what the competition.

It’s hard to imagine just how much players like James Martin and Will Flinn must be looking forward to the game tomorrow. A first start in the senior side for J M and one of very few appearances for WF.

JamesM3

James Martin has had a particularly successful season so far and is currently one of the leading try scorers in National One (see table opposite – courtesy of The Rugby Paper).

The youngster has been at Cambridge since the start of the season and has been virtually an ever-present and it is clear they regard him highly.

In a side that has struggled somewhat this season, James’ try scoring record is all the more impressive. During pre-season he played against Cambridge for Cov and ironically it was Dan Lewis’ cross kick that he scored from – hopefully the two of them will combine again tomorrow for one or two more moments of magic.

Nat 1 tableThe National One table as it currently stands makes for interesting reading. Moseley, Plymouth and Rotherham are all in or around the relegation zone and there’s every chance that one or all of them might well be fighting for a place in Tier 3 of English rugby come April.

Hull’s results have begun to pick up (with Max Titchener now playing regularly at 10 for them) and Cambridge have had three good results in their last three games, so it’s going to be a very worrying time for the clubs that currently find themselves at the wrong end of the table.

That aside, it’s a great opportunity for many of the fringe players to make their mark tomorrow against an Ampthil side that will come with a big, experienced pack and plenty of pace out wide, especially with ex Cov players Sam Baker and Kwaku Asiedu on the wings. Kwaku scored a blinder when he was here earlier in the season with Ampthil 1881 and I’m sure they’ll both be wanting  make a point or two on their return.

And Sam Baker regularly appears in the list of top National One try  scorers.

Bullet

Let’s just hope that Ampthill turn up in their more conventional team coach, rather than their alternative form of transport…

…The Bullet Proof Bomb.

Should be a corker.

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Development
The Development Squad as currently shown on the website.

Most supporters have something that annoys them, one particular area of the club that irks than more than any other.

With Coventry making huge progress on and off the pitch in recent seasons, the number of moans are far fewer  these days, but comments regarding bar queues, ticket pricing, the scoreboard (guilty as charged), car parking and so on do still pop up now and again.

I do try and remain positive in these posts but every now and again I find myself losing it slightly. Not often, but when I do it usually upsets someone.

Today’s post might be one such example.

James Martin’s elevation into the senior squad shows just what a prospect the lad is. He’s clearly very highly rated by both Coventry and Cambridge yet there’s still no picture of him on the club website.

Now a first team player, one of a number of youngsters in whom the club is investing plenty of time and, presumably expense, and there’s nothing.

Now it might be of no consequence for the youngsters concerned, their focus is presumably solely be on the rugby. But for parents, friends, even supporters like myself, it is disappointing  – and it’s not just me who feels that because I’ve been contacted about it on several occasions since I last mentioned this 7 weeks ago.

And it’s not a great look to be fair.

It doesn’t give the impression that the Development Squad is a top priority for the club, even though we know that that’s exactly what it is, as it will continue to be as the club moves forward.

Were I a youngster interested perhaps in getting involved at this level with Cov, or a parent making initial enquiries as to the kind of support the club gives to the Academy/DS players, well I don’t want to prejudge what they would think, but…

Some readers might know that for home games I run a Cov ‘Man of the Match’ poll which includes a photo of each player. For tomorrow’s game I’ve had to go to Cambridge and ‘borrow’ their photo of James which surely can’t be right.

Finn Creighton’s photo is also on the Cambridge site, as is Max Titchener’s on Hull’s…

Ideally, both the Development Squad and the U18s should have their own area of the official website with photos, details of where they currently are playing their rugby, match reports (although these are available elsewhere), fixtures and other useful information. That is very much for the longer term (but not long term, hopefully), but photos?

To me, it just isn’t in kilter with so much else that is done so well by Cov, but as I admitted earlier, most supporters have one real bugbear. This is mine and perhaps I’m being unfair as the club has made such great strides forward in recent times

There was mention in mid-October, after a previous post,  of it rapidly reaching the top of the to do list but the list seems to have got that much longer and the  photos subsequently downgraded.

It was ever thus, I guess.

Hopefully the photos can be loaded on to the website fairly quickly.

It just needs to be a ‘snap’ decision.

Thank you and goodnight…

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I’ve overplayed the Ant Hill Mob references over the last few seasons.

Still…

…how many of the Wacky Racers can you name?

Answers in the clip below:

 

 

Author: Tim

4 thoughts on “Ampthill tomorrow…A snap decision for Cov youngsters

  1. Thanks, Peter…the lack of recognition is an odd one given the playing side is benefitting so greatly from the Development/Academy players. A case of priorities I imagine, but human resources are at the core of the club’s success and need just as much recognition as a new playing surface or an improved method of paying for drinks on a match day.

  2. Totally agree with your comments regarding the Developement squad, a bit of recognition with a photo and their progress would be very welcome and ensure a bridge between the squad, club and supporters.

  3. Unfortunately not Mick…6 options to change the size of headlines but only one set font size for the main body of text. I can only apologise if makes the text difficult to read but it really is out of my hands. Can you perhaps magnify it in your browser?

  4. Tim is it possible to increase the font size on the blog please?

Any thoughts:

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