COVENTRY’S game against Fylde this Saturday will be the 25th league meeting between the two with the Blue & Whites ahead 13-11 on wins following our 64-0 away win back in October.
Fylde have, however, won twice at Butts Park Arena in fairly recent years, the last time being in the 2015/16 season.
The Coventry squad, now with a magnificent 18 wins from 19 games, have overcoming the blip that occurred at Blackheath with wins over Esher and Bishop’s Stortford, and with 123 tries tucked away, stand just seven short of equalling the club league record of 130 set last season.
Cov have five players in the division’s top ten try scorers, led by James Stokes who, on 15, is within two scores of drawing level with Andy Smallwood, our former winger, whose 17 league tries in a season has remained as the target to beat since 1996/97.
The visit of Fylde continues a fixture which began with one of the old-style club matches some 66 years ago in season 1951/52. Fixtures continued reasonably regularly after that, including a couple of cup games.
The Fylde club was formed in 1919 and they have played at Woodlands since 1920. There have been many changes there over the years, not least the fact the facility is now known as The Woodlands Memorial Ground.
Bill Beaumont, now chairman of the International Rugby Board is, without question, Fylde’s most famous former player. Bill was present for our visit to the Woodlands earlier in the season, but international commitments mean he will be elsewhere this week.
Brian Ashton, the former England head coach, is another closely associated with Fylde, along with former international centre Malcolm Phillips who, a playing contemporary of our own Peter Jackson, is also still very much part of the club, In the current playing squad, one finds the name of Tom Carleton, son of the former England winger, John.
Fylde completed last season just out of the relegation places in 12th spot. This season, a young squad with an average age, one understands, of around 22, has experienced a really tough time; three wins to date seeing them in 16th place, which is where have they found themselves most of the time.
The one win away from home came with a close 16-15 success at Old Albanian, while Rosslyn Park and Bishop’s Stortford are the two to have fallen at the Woodlands. The latter of the two home wins came on December 2, since when Fylde have lost their last seven matches.
Fly-half Greg Smith is top points scorer with 51, and Tom Carleton, who has 42, is leading try scorer on seven, followed by winger cum centre Tom Grimes on six, the latter recruited from Blaydon during the summer.