Result of the Carnegie MotM poll – Championship’s loss might yet be National One’s gain…?

I know the highest and the best
I accord them all due respect
But the brightest jewel inside of me
Glows with pleasure at my own stupidity

This is a song from under the floorboards
This is a song from where the wall is cracked
My force of habit, I am an insect
I have to confess I’m proud as hell of that fact

Magazine – Song From Under The Floorboards

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the Man of the Match poll for the game against Yorkshire Carnegie at the weekend.

It was a very tight affair this week, with Ben Nutley just pipping the match day sponsors’ choice, Rory Jennings, by four votes.

By way of contrast, the winner of the previous poll, Ryan Burrows, amassed 61% of the total votes.

The results of this week’s poll is as follows:

Player                   % of vote
Ben Nutley          22
Rory Jennings     21
George Oram      12
Dan Lewis           12

Nuts2
MotM Winner Ben Nutley, seen here in action against Ampthill earlier in the season (photo courtesy of John Coles)

After a few weeks out of the side earlier in the season, Ben Nutley has since been a regular in the back row and looking every bit the player we all hoped he’d be when he joined us for the start of last season.

Whether Cov can afford to keep hold of their ex-Premiership players next season, though, remains to be seen; I for one hope we can. The physicality players like Ben Nutley and Ryan Burrows bring to the team is something we’ve missed for a good few seasons. In addition to which they are both extremely mobile around the park as we saw on Saturday when Ben had a couple of storming runs which caused Carnegie all sorts of problems.

Nutley, along with Wallace, Nayalo, Peters and Ram if fit, gives Winter plenty of options in the back row alongside Burrows at 8 and hopefully his experience of Premiership rugby will be invaluable as we push on to the next phase in Coventry’s desire to one of the top teams in the Championship.

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Whilst some Championship sides are understandably fearing for their futures following the RFU’s bombshell announcement last week, it appears that one or two in National One believe they might well benefit from the financial squeeze now facing clubs in the league above.

Take Cambridge for example.

In an really interesting interview article by Tim Street for CambridgeshireLive,  Richie Williams,  Cambridge’s Head Coach, suggests that as a result of the 50% plus reduction in funding for clubs in the Championship, there might well be a ‘trickle’ of quality players into the third tier of English rugby.

To be clear, Williams is very sympathetic to the plight of clubs like Coventry, calling the RFU’s decision ‘bizarrre‘ and making it clear that he disagrees with the RFU’s current plans. He goes so far as to admit that he has lost ‘some respect for the RFU to be honest‘.

The RFU ‘have shown where their investment is focused. But it’s been shown that the lower leagues are breeding grounds for future England players‘.

However, because Cambridge took the decision several seasons ago to become self-sufficient financially, they are not especially reliant on RFU funding and as a result won’t be affected by the current round of RFU cuts:

First and foremost, this is something that will be predominantly affecting Championship clubs…we receive very little RFU funding, and what we do get goes towards travel costs

He goes on to say that Cambridge:

learnt the lesson as a club a few years ago when we looked at the revenue streams and we have a model which is stable.

As a result of the uncertainty affecting Championship players at the moment, he believes that there are a lot of current professional looking to their future and life after rugby who might well find part-time rugby in National One an attractive proposition.

And that makes good sense – players like Sam Tuitupou and Phil Nilsen came to Cov in the latter stages of their careers when we were in National One and thrived there whilst also able to concentrate on other interests.

So rather than play full-time rugby for potentially a reduced salary in the Championship, a part-time career In National One  whilst perhaps also pursuing options outside of the game might be rather more appealing for players currently in the tier above…?

And Richie Williams is confident that:

there will certainly be some conversations happening over the next few weeks as Championship players look at their options for next season, as well as perhaps for full-time employment. 

In last week’s interview with Alec Blackman on CWR, Jon Sharp mentioned that over 100 players and coaches had contacted Coventry Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Rowland Winter within 24 hours of the RFU’s announcement. From what Richie Williams seems to be suggesting, that interest is also filtering down into National One too.

Williams goes on to say that as far as Cambridge is concerned:

It may be that we find ourselves in a position to have Championship-quality players come on board next season. We will have to wait and see what happens.

So the Championship’s loss might yet well be National One’s gain, with clubs in London presumably having first pick.

As has been mentioned in previous posts on this blog, Williams also feels that RFU’s failure to finance the Championship to previous levels, let alone increase funding, might well mean that this is the ideal time for those clubs in Tier 2 to  think about a restructuring of the league, especially as there is now ring-fencing in all but name.

There is scope for boards to now come together and have a strategy…Perhaps they could collaborate with the Welsh Premiership and Scottish Super Six teams on a standalone league.

If Head Coaches outside of the Championship are looking at it in those terms, it suggests that such a move well be on the table when the Chairs of the Championship clubs next meet up, which could be as early as tomorrow if what I’ve heard is correct.

It seems as if there’s a real groundswell of opinion at the moment in favour of the Championship breaking away from the current league structure to work with clubs outside of the RFU.

Part of me is really excited about the prospect of re-establishing regular fixtures against some of the top Welsh sides, or indeed those from Scotland or Ireland, but the corollary of that is that as a supporter who likes to travel to away fixtures, it would mean I’d get to see far fewer games given the distances and costs involved.

So if such a change were to happen, I’d like to think there would be a full programme of Academy/Nighthawks/U18 games  on weekends when Cov were away so that for those supporters not able to travel the longer distances, or for whom the money involved would make it prohibitive, there would always be another Cov option closer to home.

It’s still very early days as yet and I guess all options are still up for debate, but hopefully something good can come out of the RFU’s  seemingly duplicitous , even mendacious, actions of late.

All the more so if it means they have to count the cost of their actions in seasons to come, provided grass roots rugby doesn’t suffer as a result of course.

(NB Tim Street refers to Rowland Winter as ‘Rowly’ Winter in this article on CambridgeshireLive. I’m not altogether sure whether this is a typo or the name by which he was affectionately (?) known in his days with Blood and Sand…?).

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For those familiar with the blog, I often try and associate a post with a particular song, on occasions somewhat tenuously if only to get in a particular favourite…

This is one such example, although the lines ‘But the brightest jewel inside of me/
Glows with pleasure at my own stupidity’ is pretty much how I think of Bill Sweeney right now.

As is:

I am an insect
(I have to confess I’m proud as hell of that fact).

Not a great deal of respect for the guy right now, I must admit.

Magazine, lead by front man Howard Devoto, were a bit weird and avant-garde to be honest, but they did produce some great music – ‘Shot By Both Sides’ is probably their best known single and almost got an airing here, but in the end I went with ‘Songs from Under The Floorboards’.

Studying Dostoevsky at university was made a little easier with this blaring so mournfully in the background…

And I am angry I am ill and I’m as ugly as sin is one of the better opening lines…

Author: Tim

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