THE next Fans Forum will be held on Tuesday, April 24th at Butts Park Arena – 7pm for 7.30pm start.
The focus will be on the club’s plans for the Championship, and giving more detail on how the Coventry Rugby Pathway will grow next year with the improvements being made to the Development team and the introduction of the Under-18 programme.
Next Home Game:- Darlington Mowden Park
Date:- 21st April
Post Match Entertainment – The Rooters
Prior to the home game against Darlington the previous Saturday’s away game vs Ampthill will be shown in full on the televisions in the Jon Sharp Suite, formerly known as the Arena bar, from 1pm.
Come and celebrate an outstanding and record breaking season for Coventry Rugby, at the End of Season Awards Dinner which is scheduled for Friday, May 4th, details of which are given below.
Venue – Jon Sharp Suite, Coventry Rugby Club, BPA.
The awards to be presented are:-
- Try of the Season
- Milestone Appearances (100 caps / 150 caps) awards
- Top Try Scorer
- Clubman Award
- Supporters Player of the Season (voting details will be released soon)
- Players’ Player of the season
Early booking is strongly recommended as tickets are limited and demand is anticipated to be very high. Supporters’ Club members can book their tickets directly via E-Mail to CRSC1874@gmail.com
All non-members can book their tickets via E-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ,or, by phone 02476 231001
NEIL FISSLER of the ‘Rugby Paper’ talks to Peter Rossborough about that glorious Coventry team of the early 1970s
COVENTRY may now be languishing in the third tier of English rugby, but during the 1970s they were the Saracens of their day. A side packed full of internationals, they won two of the first four RFU Knock Out Cups and really were the team that everyone wanted to beat.
The vast majority of the players were produced locally and one of them, Peter Rossborough, is still involved with the club, now serving as president. Rossborough, capped seven times by England, speaks with a great sense of pride about the side that ruled English club rugby in the early 70s.
He said: “We had really some fantastic players; there’s a picture in the Coventry clubhouse which was taken the season before in 1972 and shows 13 internationals, 12 from England and another who was Welsh.
“It was quite an amazing achievement at the time, because rugby wasn’t professional and you couldn’t buy your international players in the way Saracens, Leicester and Northampton have done.
“When we were successful, most of them were home grown Coventry boys and we were very proud of that aspect of the team. We also put pressure on ourselves to perform no matter how heinous the weather, or how dreadful the referee was. We drove ourselves on.”
Coventry did not enter the Knock Out Cup in its first season and went out in 1972 at the semi-final stage against Gloucester, who as the away club progressed following a 6-6 draw.
A year later Coventry didn’t make any mistakes despite being drawn away from home three times, beginning with a hard-fought win over rivals Moseley 13-9 in the second round.
They hammered Orrell 29-0 in the quarter-final and then Sale 35-6 in the last four to book their place in the Twickenham Final against Bristol.
The West Country side weren’t any match for Coventry in front of 11,500 fans thanks to tries from John Barton, David Duckham, John Gray and Geoff Evans. Full-back Rossborough chipped in with a conversation and two penalties while Alan Cowman kicked another in the 25-15 victory.
“One of the great shames of the final was that Bristol lost a good man, (England hooker) John Pullin, to injury early in the game and there were no replacements in those days, even for injuries.
“And it took the edge off what would have been a thrilling final. Clearly it affected Bristol who were down to 14 men and strange as it may sound, it also affected us. We felt desperately sorry for the guy and we played a very mediocre game to be honest. Our minds weren’t on it as much as they should have been.
“But we very much had a point to prove after going out in the manner we did to Gloucester the year before. We weren’t beaten in the Cup in the first three years of the competition.
“We played very well all of that season and we had a huge amount of confidence as you would expect from a team with the best part of a dozen internationals in it.
“And those who weren’t internationals, the likes of John Gray, were pretty good themselves and Jim Broderick who was pretty close to international status. And we were very well coached by a guy called Malcolm Lewis, who went on to become a coaching advisor to the Welsh Rugby Union.
“We trained a lot harder than most clubs did in those days, players who joined from other clubs always found it hard to keep up with our training schedules in the first couple of months,” he added.
Coventry retained their crown in 1974, beating London Scottish 26-6 in the final and didn’t taste defeat until being beaten by Bedford in the 1975 semi- final.
In 1973 they also finished top of The Sunday Telegraph Merit table as there were no organised league competition until 1987.
“At that time there were no leagues and as you will recall the fixtures were a matter of the clubs negotiating among themselves.
“We had a very strong fixture list against the likes of Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, and Newport who were all in their pomp at the time.
“We also played Bristol and Gloucester, but Bath weren’t much cop at the time. They have come on in leaps and bounds are now outstanding.
“We also had some cracking local derbies against Leicester, Northampton and Moseley in particular.
“The Sunday Telegraph ran a merit table for English and Welsh teams at the time and we won it in 1972-73.
“So that was the only real measure of who was the top team, and not a particularly efficient one I have to say of the performance between English and Welsh clubs.”
Peter Preece: England centre, the son of England and Lions fly- half Ivor, spent many years as a financial advisor and pensions consultant based in Leamington but is now retired.
Brian Holt: Winger who read land economics at Cambridge University before becoming an estate agent, was managing director of his own firm bearing his name until his retirement.
Barry Ninnes: England second row who also played for Northampton, was a mine manager and ran his own business manufacturing artificial hip and knee joints. Lives in Sheffield.
Ian Darnell: England U19 international lock who captained and coached the club. Was a policeman reaching the rank of inspector and was later a carer. Died in October, 2016 aged 66.
John Barton: England second row who worked for the British Motor Corporation before becoming a financial advisor selling insurance, and is now living in retirement in Earlsdon, Coventry.
Keith Fairbrother: England loose-head prop who became Coventry chairman for eight years, was a grocer in the Coventry wholesale market before running the family investment businesses.
Geoff Evans: England and British Lions centre was a banker with Midland Bank and then HSBC before starting his own finance company. Now living in retirement in Claverdon, South Warwickshire.
Chris Wardlow: England centre was selected for the British Lions only to break his jaw in training. He worked in the road haulage industry and then for London County busses.
Bill Gittings: Scrum-half who won one England cap, was an aircraft steel metal fabricator before spending many years with Motor Panels in Coventry. He spends half his year living with his daughter in New York.
Roger Creed: England flanker who won one cap, was a buyer in the family power tools business and then went to work in the Manchester rag trade. Now retired in his native Solihull.
Alf Wyman: The match secretary for over 40 years until his death in the clubhouse foyer in 1981.
David Duckham: England and Lions winger worked in banking and the building industry before becoming director of marketing at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire. He then became involved in corporate hospitality.
Jim Broderick: A tight head prop who toured Canada and Japan with England was an engineer for tyre manufacturers Dunlop at their head office in Coventry. Died in 2009 aged 65 after a battle with cancer.
Peter Rossborough: England full-back was an English and French teacher in Coventry and later became headmaster at Ashlawn School, Rugby for 24 years. Is now the club president.
Dick Cowman: England fly-half, was a teacher at King Henry VIII Grammar School in Coventry and then became head of a school in Dorset.
John Gray: Hooker who also played cricket for Warwickshire, switched codes to Rugby League winning England and Great Britain honours. He settled in Sydney, Australia and runs a successful plastic manufacturing business.
The article above is by courtesy & kind permission of ‘The Rugby Paper’.
While Wasps are basking in the success of their move to the Ricoh Arena, Jon Newcombe finds that Coventry RFC are also thriving and looking to restore their proud name
To say that rugby in Coventry has never had it so good would be doing a disservice to the halcyon period in the 1960s and 70s when the city team held sway in the English game and produced many an international.
But while junior clubs in the area continue to struggle to get teams out on a regular basis given the drop-off in playing numbers, at the professional end of the game the outlook is extremely positive – and not just at Wasps.
Despite fears to the contrary, having a successful Premiership side on their doorstep has not harmed Coventry RFC at all; indeed they are thriving.
Under the robust chairmanship of first Peter Rossborough and now Jon Sharp, the National One outfit have come back from the brink of bankruptcy and are building a sustainable future every bit as bright as their past.
Turnover in the last three years has doubled to around £1.2million through increased gate receipts – Cov regularly attract crowds better than most Championship clubs – their successful conference and banqueting operation and a community project that brings in £250,000.
“The club is financially stronger than it’s ever been, we’ve sold close to 500 season tickets for next season already,” said director of rugby Rowland Winter, below. “It is getting to the point where we are almost self-sufficient and not reliant on any one individual.”
Having nearly gone to the wall in December 2009 under the disastrous ownership of Andrew Green, Coventry are determined to learn from the lessons of the past.
With the whole Butts Park Arena site now their own following a recent land acquisition, plans are afoot to redevelop their home for the last 13 years as Coventry strive to ensure off-field and on-field success go hand in hand.
“You look at the Exeter model and they ensured that they were a sustainable outfit before they went to the next level. We are probably going to try and do both at the same time, but there’s no reason for not having that ambition,” said Sharp.
“We are looking to enhance our facilities to benefit the players, spectators and the local community as well as exploring on-site retail possibilities.”
With no Championship club dropping down into the third tier of English rugby for the new season after the demise of London Welsh, ambitious clubs like Coventry believe that next season might be their best opportunity yet of winning promotion.
As a result, two-thirds of Coventry’s squad is now full-time, with Premiership big-hitters such as former All Blacks centre Sam Tuitupou and ex-England No.8 Luke Narraway on board.
Alex Grove and Phil Nilsen are two more new additions with top-flight experience, while Latu Makaafi was a standout player for Doncaster in the Championship before he opted for a move to the Midlands.
Winter insists, though, that the club are not spending beyond their means to chase promotion. “We’re interested in bringing the right players to the club – not mercenaries, and they’re not paid what people might expect. Phil and Sam are at times of their careers where they are looking at other avenues, while Luke joins as a player-coach”.
“Phil is using his spare time to start paramedic training and Sam runs a lot of Maori training camps around Europe and has a player management agency that makes him more money than his Sale contract did. Luke intends to help with the family business in Worcester as well as overseeing a couple of bars he’s invested in.
“Gone are the days here when recruitment was not properly focused. We are interested in bringing the right people to the club, who buy into what we’re trying to achieve, not mercenaries.”
The quality extends to the coaching group too, with ex-England U20 head coach Nick Walshe supported by fellow ex-Premiership players, Louis Deacon (forwards), Boris Stankovich (scrum) and Narraway (defence).
Winter has himself signed a new three-year deal as he looks to improve on last season’s fourth-place finish in National One.
“Championship rugby is the goal. We are probably one of three to four clubs in this league along with Plymouth and Ampthill – and Moseley probably have an eye on it, too – that are aiming for promotion.
“After untangling the mess of past regimes, the club is in a better position than it has been for some time. We’ve got a great squad and the infrastructure is in place with a new gym and improved medical and physio facilities, it is now a case of doing the job.
“It is not going to be easy though, National One is a tough league,” Winter added.
“Plymouth are probably a year ahead of us because they started their rebuilding process about 18 months ago, Ampthill have got ridiculous amounts of money and half of Tonga in Bedfordshire, and Moseley will be tough to beat.
“I think Darlington Mowden Park have potential because they have retained lot of their players for once. You can never write off teams like Rosslyn Park and Esher when get their act together, while Blackheath will be improved under James Shanahan.
“For once there is no Ealing or Doncaster who’ll come down and dominate. It should make for a fascinating league.”
The article above is by courtesy & kind permission of ‘The Rugby Paper’.