BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Coventry

by PETER WOODROOFE

 


COVENTRY v MOSELEY, National League Division 1, at Butts Park arena, The Butts, Saturday, September 23, 2006, KO 2.30 pm


It’s local derby season!
Moseley travel to Butts Park arena to play Coventry on Saturday and entertain Pertemps Bees at Billesley a week later. A testing time for all three clubs.

Early Cup rivalry
Coventry was founded in 1874, a year after
Moseley. Fixtures between the two clubs began as long ago as 1879.

From the very beginning, the intensity of the rivalry between the two clubs increased more and more and this was fuelled by the arrival of the Midland Counties Challenge Cup Competition instituted in 1881-2.

The two clubs met in the Final in 1884 – before scoring by points was introduced – with
Moseley winning.

Bad for the game’
The competition was discontinued in 1926 because of the general feeling that Cup ties, in addition to disrupting club fixtures in March and April, created acrimony and did no good for the game.

One pundit wrote: “The ambition of the bigger clubs and the inability of certain teams to behave like gentlemen killed the old Cup.” By then, the clubs had met in seven finals, Coventry winning four and
Moseley two, with the 1914 final declared null and void after Coventry had beaten Moseley 13-0, because Coventry had included two players not on their list of men for Cup-ties and Moseley had been late with their list!

As a matter of interest, Leicester won the Cup eight consecutive times between 1898 and 1905 and did not compete 1906-8 ‘to give other clubs a chance’. It was thought that, such was their power, they were stifling the development of the game in the Midlands.

It could be said that, today, the inclusion of so many ‘foreigners’ in the Premiership could be stifling the development of England rugby. Discuss!

Playing for pride
As there were no club competitions in the Midlands after 1926 before the County Cups, motivation was provide4d by the pride of playing for and supporting your club – so local derbies and games against the Welsh clubs provided additional spice to the fixtures.

The Mose-Cov fixture has a long tradition and has provided its share of controversy over the years at all playing and official levels. But a supreme moment was at the time of both clubs’ Golden Age when, in 1972, 14 international players, past, present and future graced The Reddings in a match played before a crowd of 4,000.

National Cup
In the RFU National Cup competition, which commenced in 1971-2, Coventry have won all three games, two at The Reddings. They have won the Cup twice, in 1972-3 and 1973-4. On their way to winning in 1972-3, they defeated
Moseley 12-9, one of their away victories.

The two clubs met in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup in November 1997,
Moseley winning 36-29 at Coundon Road.

League parity
Since League rugby began in 1987-8, there have been 15 matches,
Moseley having won eight and Coventry seven.

The points difference reflects the local derby element, Moseley scoring 344 and Coventry 369.

When they last met in 2002-3 – when both were in National 1 – Coventry did a rare double, winning 23-7 at Bournbrook and 60-40 at Coundon Road. Moseley suffered relegation in that season.

Decent record
Coventry have had six seasons in National 1, finishing 5th, 4th, 6th, 12th, 6th and 8th last season.

New era
With KEITH FAIRBROTHER, the former England international, Coventry prop and chairman selling the club to businessman ANDREW GREEN, there are changes behind the scenes at Coventry.

MIKE UMAGA, capped 31 times for Western Samoa and the brother of the former All Blacks captain TANA, has been given a free hand to select the team as Director of Rugby, having previously been backs coach.

Arrivals
Newcomers this season include fly-half BEN RUSSELL from Saracens, winger SAM MONTAGUE from Rugby Lions, back-row players WILL JOHNSON, brother of England’s England World Cup-winning brother Martin, who has moved from Leicester Tigers, and openside flanker JOHNNY O’CONNOR from Munster and prop CARL RIMMER from Nuneaton.

Departures
However, Coventry have lost last season’s top points scorer (251) in National 1, winger JAMES MOORE, who has moved to Cornish Pirates, fly-half JOHN HIGGINS, who will be seen at Billesley next week playing for Pertemps Bees, and lock BEN GULLIVER, who has moved to Plymouth Albion.

Interchanges
There have been many players who have had the ‘temerity’ to play for both clubs.

PETER ROBBINS and BRIAN WIGHTMAN for example took the route to Coventry and BARRIE CORLESS from Coventry to
Moseley.

The current example is RICHARD PROTHEROUGH, injured at the moment, a former Moseley captain in 2002-3, who moved to Coventry in the following season.

Solid start
In their opening three games this season, Coventry have won one game, lost one and drawn one and have gained a try bonus point at Sedgley Park and a losing bonus point at home to Earth Titans for a total eight points.

They have been well served by their new back row of TOM JOHNSON, JOHNNY O’CONNOR and WILL JOHNSON (Captain), who have scored four of their total of 10 tries.

Their other try scorers have been scrum-half MIKE WELLS (2) and full-back APONA STEWART, centre/wing G DIXON, lock HENDRY RHEEDERS and loose-head prop CARL RIMMER, one apiece.

Kicker BEN RUSSELL only scored one conversion in his first two games, but kicked a conversion and two penalties at Exeter.

Tough baptism
Moseley’s five points have all come from that splendid victory over Bedford Blues, the Saturday before last.

Last Sunday, they came up against the pace and strength of realistic promotion contenders Cornish Pirates at Camborne, losing 52-16 – perhaps suffering the backlash from Pirates’ defeat at Waterloo 19-16 on the previous Saturday.

Mose yielded six tries, including two by fly-half ALBERTO Di BERNADA, who also converted five and licked four penalties, for a total of 32 points. Two players in the sin bin in the 54th and 56th minute did not help!

Good draw
Coventry earned a well-merited 13-13 draw in the first match at Exeter’s new ground, Sandy Park, in front of 5,234 spectators.

They have played two games against promotion contenders to date, drawing one and losing by only seven points to Earth Titans, who are the current League leaders, one bonus point ahead of the also undefeated Plymouth Albion.

One hundred pointer!
The last local derby game between the two clubs was in National 1 at Coundon Road on March 15, 2003, the year
Moseley were relegated.

Contrary to most local derbies, it was a veritable try-fest, 14 being scored with both sides winning try bonus points.

The 60-40 score to Coventry was a record points’ aggregate for matches between the two clubs.

Amongst the Coventry scorers was winger KURT JOHNSON, still with the club and their leading try scorer for the past six seasons. He holds the Coventry record for the most League tries in a career, 82 between 1999 and 2006. In
Moseley’s case, it will be ‘beware the Johnsons’ on Saturday!
All to play for…
For spectators at the new Butts Park Arena, it will be the usual enthralling local derby encounter.

Moseley’s resilience these days is such that they will shrug off the Cornish Pirates encounter, but they face another difficult task on Saturday against a Coventry squad that has only conceded 52 points in three games.

Moseley are on a learning curve in National 1. How much they have learnt from their first three games will become evident with their unforeseen victory over Bedford Blues a main source of encouragement.

We hope all players and spectators will enjoy the game.

Please note that kick off is 2.30pm

Address:

COVENTRY RUGBY CLUB
Butts Park Arena
Butts Rd
Coventry
CV1 3GE
Tel: 0871 750 9100


How to find Coventry Rugby Club:

From Birmingham follow the A45 to Coventry. Follow signs for town centre on the A4114 Hollyhead Road. At the ring road head right, and take the next exit (7) signposted Butts Road B4101. The main car park is off this road. Additional parking next door at the City Technical College (access from Albany Road).

If the above car parking is full, City car parks can be found at the Skydome,
and in the centre of the Roundabout at Junction 7 of the Ring Road
(A4053 Ringway Queens). Access to both these car parks is available from
the City side of the junction, immediately left from Croft Road as you leave the
roundabout.


Gate Prices:
Adults - East Stand £15 Other areas £12
OAPs / Students - East Stand £12 Other areas £10
Under 16s £8
Under 4s Free entry

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