John Butler looks ahead to Saturday’s visit of Rosslyn Park
COVENTRY have every incentive to continue their winning home run when long-standing rivals Rosslyn Park come to Butts Park Arena on Saturday.
Not only did Park win the November meeting in London 33-15, they also did the double over Cov last season and you have go back five seasons, to the 2011-12 campaign, to find the last time Cov won on home ground.
Throw in the fact that a win for Cov would see them leapfrog their visitors and move into fifth place in the National League One table, and there is plenty resting on the 19th league game between the two clubs.
Overall, Rosslyn Park lead 12-5 in terms of league victories with one match drawn.
Last season Park finished fifth in National League One after starting, rather like ourselves, as one of the supposed favourites for promotion. As we all know only too well, that did not materialise for either of us.
This season, under coaches Andy Holloway, Scott Sneddon and Kieran Power,
Park got away to a poor start, losing their opening four matches, but they have recovered well to rise into fifth place with a record of 16 wins, one draw and nine losses. Away from Roehampton, they have won at Macclesfield, Fylde, Cambridge, Darlington Mowden Park, Blackheath and Esher. That list of successes is a pretty clear indication of the task facing Cov this weekend.
Last Saturday, Rosslyn Park completed a league double with a home win over Fylde. They are known to have a good, solid playing squad, a fair percentage remaining at The Rock from last season. One of those, full-back and centre Andrew Henderson is top try scorer on ten. It was winger Josh Watkins, though, who claimed two of the tries last week against Fylde. Leading points scorer this season is a newcomer, fly-half Harry Leonard with 234, the No.10 having been recruited from Yorkshire Carnegie.
Two faces we would expect to see wearing the Red and White are Mark Kohler and Ed Milne. Mark had a season here with Cov in 2013/14 before moving to Plymouth Albion, whilst Ed, when dual registered with Leicester Academy, played a total of 12 times between 2013 and 2015,before medical studies took him to London.
The Rosslyn Park club is some five years younger than Cov, having been formed in 1879. They have never actually played at Rosslyn Park – the original links were with a group of cricketers, who decided to form a football club which kept them together out of the cricket season. With cricket played in the grounds of Rosslyn House, not unnaturally the name was associated with cricket and also the rugby club when formed.
Their facilities at The Rock in Roehampton have been the centre for the famed annual Rosslyn Park Schools Sevens for many years; the latest event took place just the week before last.
The ‘more mature’ Cov supporters will no doubt recall the name of Dave Rollitt, the former England back row forward. Dave was at The Rock for our earlier meeting as Park’s physiotherapist is his granddaughter, Pippa.