Before revealing the winner of the Cov Blog ‘Player of the Season’ – 2019/20 , I should point out that this is an unofficial poll and it might be that in future weeks Cov Rugby decides to conduct its own; it’s certainly not an attempt to pre-empt anything the club might produce at a later date.
That said, I’d be surprised if the result would be any different given the numbers voting and the percentage of votes cast in favour of the winner, and as ever, many thanks to those who took part.
Without checking, I’m pretty certain that in all the previous polls that have been undertaken as part of this blog over the past 5 seasons, whether MVP or Man of the Match (and there have been a fair few of them), no player has ever achieved such a high percentage of the overall vote.
The winner of the Cov Blog ‘Player of the Season’ – 2019/20 is:
And he won it by a distance.
Ryan achieved over 62% of the final vote, with Ben Nutley and Rory Jennings, who finished 2nd and 3rd, receiving just 14% between them.
So, as results go, this one was pretty conclusive.
Interestingly, Burrows ‘only’ finished 3rd in the MVP poll at Christmas, behind Max Trimble and the winner, Nile Dacres.
Trimble hasn’t played much since and is rumoured to be on his way to Ealing and Nile Dacres, whilst continuing to be a powerhouse in the pack, perhaps hasn’t been quite as influential as he was earlier in the season.
Ryan Burrows, though, most definitely has.
When Rowland Winter signed RB, he made it clear just what he was expecting of him:
‘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’
And I rather imagine that anyone asked to explain why they voted for RB in this week’s poll would mention somewhere in their response precisely the points Cov’s DoR highlighted, namely his ability to take the attack to the opposition as a ball carrier and his qualities as a leader.
The recruitment of Ryan Burrows in time for the start of the season was an acknowledgement that Coventry Rugby had been missing his kind of leadership qualities on the pitch over the last couple of seasons, something that Rowland Winter had alluded to in the past, most notably after the defeat away to Richmond last season, one of Cov’s poorest performances under the current Director of Rugby:
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…
And that’s not taking anything away from Heath Stevens or Phil Boulton, just recognising that Ryan brings something a little different to the team.
With 30 appearances for Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership, Burrows has just the sort of experience that Cov need as they build a squad capable of challenging for a top 2 spot in the Championship. He certainly seems to have the ability to remain calm under pressure and whilst he can often be seen chatting quietly to the referee during breaks in play, one of his main strengths for me is his ability to lead by example.
The Championship game at Ealing earlier this season was a good example of this, with Burrows very much at the forefront of Coventry’s revival having gone two tries down in the opening quarter. He was immense that day, although in fairness he has been one of the most consistent performers for Cov throughout this somewhat curtailed season.
Perhaps the only disappointing thing is that RB hasn’t been able to turn around Coventry’s poor form away from home, something that he recognised as a problem when he joined the club at the start of this season:
They certainly are (ambitious)…I went to speak to Rowland…
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.
Coventry supporters have always warmed to big, ball-carrying backrowers – back in the 80s there was Graham Robbins, in the ’90s Ian Patten, in the ’00s Henry Rheeders and Laurie McGlone, in the ’10s Le Roux.
Other than Robbins, Ryan Burrows wouldn’t look out of place alongside any of them.
And with another two years of his contract still remaining, Cov supporters can look forward to plenty more barn-storming games from the Cov no 8.
The 18 months prior to his arrival at Cov hadn’t been the easiest for RB, the reasons for which I have the utmost empathy (having gone through something similar myself), and he must still be struggling to come to terms with all that has happened. Hopefully, though, being at Coventry has provided him with a new challenge and the chance to move on and, above all, the opportunity to fall back in love with the game.
He is such an exciting player to watch and hopefully his experience will be invaluable if we do end up with a slightly younger squad next season; I’m sure he’s just the sort of player those in the Development Squad would look up to. He commands respect.
So congratulations go to Ryan Burrows for being Cov’s Player of the Season, at least as far as readers of this blog are concerned.
In the next couple of days or so, I’ll post the final player ratings which doubtless will confirm Burrows’ form this season…although I haven’t seen them as yet.
I’ll end with this clip of Ryan Burrows from YouTube – not in a Coventry shirt unfortunately but still a reminder of just what powerful runner he can be with ball in hand.