On the 10th day of Christmas…

3rd.jpgDay 10 of the Cov Blog’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2019 poll results.

And this time it’s 3rd place that’s up for grabs.

And today you voted for:

Ryan Burrows.

Congratulations, Ryan.

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CRFC-head-shots-WEBSITE16-Ryan-BurrowsAlthough an 8th place in what was the club’s first season back in the Championship after an absence of 8 years was encouraging, the away wins against Doncaster and Jersey in the final two games of the season did little to paper over the cracks that were so visible at times over the course of the season.

Yes, we ended up with a higher points tally than any newly promoted side in the Championship, but there were games that we lost that we should have won, where we lacked direction on the pitch and where we were naïve in some of our decision-making at key moments, particularly away from home.

The Hartpury game down at the Gillman’s Ground back in September 2018 was a good example of this, one of those games where both teams were poor but one most of  travelling Cov supporters felt we lost rather than Hartpury won, if that makes sense…

As were the games against London Scottish and Richmond, both down at the RAG and both games where we lacked a bit of direction on the pitch at times.

Speaking after the Richmond game, Rowland Winter made it clear where he felt the problem lay:

‘It’s not necessarily geeing up that’s needed – it’s more focus and leadership. We’ve got plenty of people who bring energy…but leaders who bring clear and concise decision making to the heat of the battle was what we missed…’

That’s not to say players like Heath Stevens and Phil Boulton didn’t do a great job last season, they clearly did, but it was evident that on occasions what was needed were players seasoned at this level and above to control the game a little more effectively at times.

Even before the club started to release the names of players recruited for the 2019/20 season, it was pretty clear that one or two of them were going to be players who had a reputation as leaders on the pitch…

Enter Ryan Burrows.

At 30 years old here was a player with exactly the sort of experience that Cov had been lacking at times last season. He had joined Newcastle in 2017 and had played over 30 games for them, captaining the side in the Premiership on several occasions.

Before that he had played 145 games for Yorkshire Carnegie over a six year period. In addition, he came with the reputation of a big, ball-carrying No 8; precisely the kind of player we had been lacking for a good few seasons.

Le Roux was of that mould, but for me it was a Laurie McGlone, a Henry Rheeders or an Ian Patten that we were lacking – or even a Dan Farani (without the high tackles…:))

And that is exactly what we now have.

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Burrows on the charge against Nottingham (Photo courtesy of John Coles)

Ryan Burrows is a wrecking ball in attack, a bulwark in defence. He’s a leader who leads as much by example as he does by encouraging and cajoling. But he’s also a captain who likes to talk to the referee, often to be seen enquiring about a decision or politely putting his point across.

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Burrows on the rampage again, this time against Ealing (Photo courtesy of John Coles)

The past 18 months haven’t been the easiest for RB, the reasons for which I have the utmost empathy (having gone through something similar myself), and it must still all be a bit raw for a player who two seasons was playing in the Premiership.

Hopefully, being at Coventry is providing him with new challenges and the chance to move on; the opportunity to fall back in love with the game.

In an interview for The Yorkshire Post, Burrows explained his ‘rugby’ reasons for moving to the BPA (before the wins against Doncaster and Jersey, I should add):

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Burrows and Jennings deep in conversation before the Notts game

They certainly are (ambitious)…I went to speak to (director of rugby) Rowland (Winter).

They are frustrated with where they are this year. I think they have only lost a couple of games at home but the disappointing thing for them is that they haven’t won a game away from there.

It’s a fresh challenge, there’s some clear goals about where the club wants to be in three years and he’s sold me the dream.

So yet another player Rowland Winter has worked his magic on. I’ve already mentioned this in a recent post, but the fact he is so articulate and speaks so well must have helped bring some of these players to Cov, players who will have been targeted by several other clubs, too.

And here’s the thing:

He’s sold me the dream‘.

Ryan Burrows is on a three year contract. The dream is hardly going to be that Cov will become a top 4, or even 2, side, surely?

We’re well on track for a top 4 finish this season anyway.

Is there just the smallest of suggestions there that promotion in three years is the target the club has set itself…?

I know, I know…I’m reading too much into it, but if you have that passion and belief in something, well you do sometimes tend to let your imagination run away with itself.

RW was, as you’d expect, upbeat about what Ryan Burrows would bring to Coventry Rugby:

‘I am delighted that we have signed Ryan, he is a proven performer at the top of the Championship and has added real quality to his game in the Premiership with Newcastle.

We are really looking forward to getting him involved, he will give us a big ball carrying focal point and he is also a leader, so his experience will be vital as we look to make more progress next season’

So far he has played in all 7 Championship games this season, starting in all but one of them.

Burrows

And his average player ratings, courtesy of The Rugby Paper and Sam’s spreadsheet – (HNY Sam), confirm the impact he is having just as a player. An average of 7 or more over a number of games suggests that he is in good form, as he indeed is. Neale Harvey awarded him a 9 for his performance against Nottingham just before Christmas and in the same game he was the runaway winner of the MofM poll run as part of this blog.

Supporters are very appreciative of what Burrows has brought to Cov already and as this group of players get further into the season, I’m sure we’ll see him develop still more into his role as a leader on the pitch as well as off it.

3rd place in the MVP poll after a little more than a handful of game is no mean effort.

Well done, Ryan, you’re beginning to sell me the dream too…

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It’s the 10th Day of Christmas tomorrow and the top 3 places are still to be settled.

Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Day 10 – Ryan Burrows
Day 9 – Jack Ram
Day 8 – Rob Knox (5th)
Day 7 – Rory Jennings and Will Maisey (6th)
Day 6 – Pete White (7th)
Day 5 – Tony Fenner (8th)
Day 4 – Luke Wallace (9th)
Day 3 – Henry Purdy (10th)
Day 2 – Adam Peters (11th)
Day 1 – Senitiki Nayalo (12th)

Author: Tim

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