by Joe Heaton

Coventry v Moseley, at Butts Park Arena ,

National League Division 1, Friday December 26th 2008,

k.o. 3.00 pm (gates open at 12 for hot food and drink)

It is always a particular pleasure when a cherished tradition is restored to its rightful place in the scheme of things. It is fifteen seasons since Coventry and Moseley played each other on Boxing Day afternoon, alternating the hosting of the match, and it falls to Coventry to do so this year with Moseley hosting next year’s fixture.

In the close season the Coventry directors persuaded the highly experienced Phil Maynard to take charge of the club’s fortunes after an eighteen months sabbatical, following his departure from Birmingham & Solihull and his efforts are having a noticeable effect.

When Coventry came to Billesley Common in September, in only the third match of the season, the visitors were well beaten, 12-34. Since then the Butts Park club has produced a number of improving and winning performances and it was only last week that Moseley managed to get ahead in the National League One standings.

The Coventry club has also benefited from the recent resolution of a long standing difficulty with the RFU over debts due from an earlier era. Everyone at Moseley has sympathised with Coventry’s position due to our own financial challenges when professionalism first came in and it would have been a tragedy if such a proud traditional rugby club had been forced out of National League One.

The Boxing Day match will have added spice as a number of Moseley players are now involved with Coventry noticeably Ollie Winters in the centre, Ben Pons at wing forward and the forcibly retired Adrian Lightowler running the fitness programmes. Moseley was sorry to lose these players but there is a limit on the size of squad and support staff which any club can retain. We wish these players well but obviously not too well on Friday!

The results of Coventry’s last three matches are:
21st December Cornish Pirates 32 Coventry 14 L
13th December Coventry 6 Plymouth Albion 7 L/BP
6th December London Welsh 21 Coventry 23 W

The relative positions of Coventry & Moseley in National League One are:
             P W  L D BP P Pos
Moseley  16 7 9 0 10 38  9
Coventry 16 7 9 0  6 34 11

Since the inception of competitive League rugby Coventry has won twelve games and Moseley twelve, so the long running series is on a knife edge. However last season in the corresponding fixture Moseley suffered a heavy defeat, 16-43, at Butts Park

Moseley make the short journey across to Butts Park Arena knowing that, in the club’s last two matches (against Manchester & Newbury), 84 points have been scored with only 16 against. In the process only one try has been conceded while ten points have been earned..

However these games were against relatively weaker opposition and Friday will be an entirely different and more robust occasion. Two evenly matched sides will be vying for local bragging rights in true local derby fashion and the game is sure to be a tense and entertaining one. Let us all hope that it is worthy of its great tradition


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