Coventry Rugby’s preparations to face London Scottish on Saturday received a boost through a training ‘away day’ to the hallowed turf of Rugby School.
According to head coach Alex Rae, the blue-and-whites marked their return from the ten-day break that followed their festive-season double over Nottingham and Bedford with a session on the Close – the location where some believe pupil William Webb Ellis originated rugby union in the 1820’s.
“We trained at Rugby School on Saturday because we thought having a change of scenery would help get any rust out of the system,” he said.
“But in fact everyone turned up full of enthusiasm and we’ve since had a really good week ahead of facing Scottish on Saturday.
“It’s nice sometimes to go to different places and going to the Close was really special for us.
“We spent a bit of time educating Billy Nairau (Cov’s recently-arrived Fijian) about it being the spot where it all began.
“The facilities there are brilliant and credit to everyone at the school as they have a lovely set-up.”
Rae said the break helped to clear a backlog of injuries built up during the autumn ahead of their meeting with opponents in whom he detects more than a hint of Harlequins influence.
“Physically and mentally it’s been good for us to have a break and come back fit and refreshed for the next big period,” he said.
“Looking at the fixtures this next three-week block is likely to be a defining part of the season for a lot of teams and at the end of it I think we’ll be able to see who is fighting for what.
“Scottish have some good players and also a strong relationship with Harlequins which you can see in some of the shapes they run.
“Having some young Quins players there on loan has clearly rubbed off – for instance they have one of the best stats in the league for retaining possession.
“They clearly want to keep the ball and play with it which should be a good test for us.”
Despite the Exiles currently being at the foot of the table with only one success in seven starts, few would dispute that their home win over Ealing is the stand-out result of the Championship season to date.
And while Rae’s team completed a double over Saturday’s hosts last season, five of the current squad were part of the blue-and-whites’ 36-23 defeat at the Richmond Athletic Ground in November 2021 on a day when Cov lock James Tyas starred for Scottish.
Cov’s boss is therefore wary of the dangers posed by Bryan Redpath’s Exiles, who during December added losing bonus points against Cambridge, Hartpury and Doncaster to the league leaders’ scalp.
“We’ve already slipped up a couple of times this season and we know in this league if you’re not where you need to be in performance terms you get bitten on the backside,” he said.
“Scottish have already turned Ealing over at home and could be much higher in the table if a couple of tight games had gone their way recently.
“But we have really found our ‘mojo’ in recent weeks and with a few bodies back from injury we go into the game on the back of a few wins with plenty of confidence and in a good place.”
Buy tickets to Coventry Rugby’s next home game against Cornish Pirates on Saturday January 27th here: https://www.coventryrugby.co.uk/tickets/matchday-tickets/