By Paul Smith
Coventry commence 150th season with Leicester Lions friendly
Coventry Rugby boss Alex Rae hands debuts to a number of summer signings in tomorrow’s pipe opener against Leicester Lions (Butts Park Arena, 3pm kick off).
The blue-and-whites aim to give game time to most of their squad during a contest which will be played over 80 minutes with the hosts fielding almost entirely different line-ups for each half.
Former England international flanker Matt Kvesic makes his first Cov start during the opening 40 minutes where he is part of a pack that includes ex-Gloucester no.8 Jack Bartlett plus recent front five signings Elliot Chilvers and Rhys Anstey.
Behind the scrum Cov begin their season with a number of last season’s backline regulars including centres Lucas Titherington and Will Wand while the pacy Jimmy Martin wears the no.11 shirt.
The starting side will be skippered by hooker Jordon Poole who then passes the armband to prop Toby Trinder after the break.
Trinder is joined in the front row by new tight head Elliot Salt while former Leicester academy back-rower Chester Owen wears the no.6 shirt on his Cov debut.
A pacy back three features ex-Jersey speedster Ryan Hutler on the right wing while Will Rigg and Ollie Betteridge combine in midfield.
Rae said the squad is desperate to play after a long pre-season which began in early June.
“There’s only so much training you want to do and we’re all really excited to get back playing in front of the Cov fans,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the new lads pull on a Cov shirt for the first time as that’s always a special moment.
“We have almost everyone involved other than Will Chudley who is fit but will play next week against Moseley while Pat Pellegrini and Paddy Ryan are not back from Tonga and the USA yet.
“That means we’re just missing Obinna Nkwocha who has a minor hamstring strain, while Will Biggs is about four weeks from fitness with an ankle injury and Harry Seward has a longer-term concussion.
“Leicester Lions have done really well to work their way through the leagues to National One and they’ll give us just the kind of test we’re looking for at this time of year.”
Leicester Lions arrive at the Butts on the back of a successful 2022/23 campaign which saw them promoted to National One as the inaugural winners of National Two West.
In a remarkable season Gareth Collins’ team lost only once and won their last 21 matches consecutively to finish with 122 points from a possible 130.
Their 26-strong squad could include former Cov fly half Dan Lewis although last season’s leading National Two West try-scorer Devon Constant and prolific kicker Ben Young are both no longer with the club.
Coventry first half team: Wilson; Opoku, Wand, Titherington, Martin; Mitchell, Ogden; Chilvers, Poole ©, Andrews; Anstey, Smith; Stone, Kvesic, Bartlett.
Coventry second half team: James; Hutler, Rigg, Betteridge, Martin/Opoku (shared); Mannion, Lane; Trinder ©, Ma’asi, Salt; Anstey/Smith (shared), Tyas; Owen, Ball, Nayalo.
Coventry vs Leicester Lions:
Saturday August 19th at 3pm at the Butts Park Arena
Get your tickets here.
Included with Season Membership
Adults £15 (standing or seated)
All tickets include entry to the inaugural Coventry Rugby Beer Festival
Purchase a season membership by visiting https://www.coventryrugby.co.uk/membership/