TIGHT head prop Phil Boulton has been appointed club captain of Coventry Rugby for the 2017-18 season.
The experienced 30-year-old had an impressive run as captain in the second half of last season, his first at Butts Park, when he showed his leadership skills as Cov secured a fourth-place finish in National League One.
“It’s a well-deserved appointment,” said director of rugby, Rowland Winter. “We thought long and hard about how we approach the captaincy, and Phil has been an outstanding leader for us since the turn of the year both on the field and working among the squad during the week.
“He galvanised the group and, credit to him, a lot of the upturn in results probably came in part from his leadership and his ability to bring them together.
“Phil can be outspoken, he’s a tough, no-nonsense leader, and he is well aware of what part he plays within the club’s progression. He’s well respected among the players, he says the right things at the right time but doesn’t say too much, and that’s what we want from a leader.
“His place in the squad as a player isn’t guaranteed, we will have a match-day captain who may be Phil or may be someone else to support and work with him, but his role as club captain is well merited and one in which we are sure he will excel.”
Boulton, who made 28 appearances last season after joining from Bedford Blues, is relishing the challenge presented by the role and the new campaign.
“I feel very privileged and honoured to be asked to be captain of such a famous club and to be among the group of illustrious names who have done it before,” he said.
“I had a run as captain after Christmas last year and I think it went quite well, but with the experience that was coming into the squad and building again, it was something I hadn’t really thought about until Rowland phoned and asked me.
“Obviously, there’s no guarantee of starting every week and I’m pleased about that because I think the competition does really drive standards the right way – I know Jimmy Litchfield wants that 3 shirt as much as I do and it’s competition that is healthy.
“I’m excited about the season ahead.
“In some people’s eyes it might have been a bit of a disappointment to only finish fourth last year, but I think we actually over-achieved. I think the first half of the season was a difficult one, it was a learning curve right through the club down to the supporters.
“It wasn’t until after Christmas that we started to realise how good we are and how good we could be, and we forced our way into that fourth spot and importantly above Moseley.
“There will be expectations, but it’s something I’ve always known that Coventry carries because of the history that surrounds the club.
“There’s expectation from the supporters, from the chairman, from Rowland, and I felt last year there were expectations from the players. But I don’t think we realised as a group how to manage that expectation and I think that certainly showed in the first half of the season.
“Rowland has signed players of character as well as playing ability, and that’s so important when you’re coming together in a squad that’s ambitious because we have got a good group of core players staying from last year and we just need people who are going to fit straight in and add to it.
“Leadership doesn’t necessarily just mean being captain. There’s a lot of different things around it which is something I want other people to realise and help develop.
“We’ve got some really experienced players coming into the squad, and we’ve also got to remember that other players are also now a year on and have got that extra experience.
“Will Maisey at 10 is a leader because he’s calling all the shots, and Tony Fenner captained the side from that position last year. Tom Wheatcroft also captained the side last year, Brett Daynes has been captain, Cliffie Hodgson has got a record for most wins as captain, and we’ve added someone like Phil Nilsen coming who was club captain at Yorkshire Carnegie.
“Another year on, it’s great to see what potentially can be.”