Coventry Rugby Club home match - this one against National Division One leaders Ealing Trailfinders.Today, for the first time in six years, I made a trip to the midlands to watch a
Coventry is my birthplace and I have supported the city's rugby team since childhood. Until the 1980s they were one of the big beasts of English rugby, up there with Leicester, Gloucester and the leading Welsh club sides. The first game I ever watched was the great David Duckham's last home match in a Cov shirt.
Until a few years ago, I would generally get to a couple of home games each year, combining watching the match with a visit to my grandparents. But when grandad died five years ago, and then my grandmother moved south to be cared for by my mother, there was no personal reason to visit Coventry any more. It seemed perverse to take a whole day out of a busy life to watch second tier (and now third tier) rugby. The more so as we have Saracens playing premiership rugby ten minutes' walk away - although Saracens have never really adopted Watford and in turn I have never quite adopted them.
Anyway, because it conjured up family memories it was quite a sentimental trip today, but an enjoyable one, not least because my team won. It is nice to see that at this semi-professional level, players still stop to talk to supporters, club officials are relaxed about people wandering on to the pitch after the game, and generally the corporate takeover of rugby that one sees in the premiership is thankfully absent.
In days gone by Cov were famed for their forward game, and tended to see off southern teams like Rosslyn Park and Harlequins who threw the ball about a lot but never won anything. It was a bit like that today. Ealing came at Cov with their effete passing and offloading game, displaying the kind of skilful play that so disfigures the modern game. But Cov were having none of it and scored a winning try in injury time after a rolling maul which at one point included 13 of Cov's 15 players.
Cov have a long way to go to regain their glory days but perhaps today was a start.