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English rugby club's classy touch for fallen foes

By Paul Smith
Alex Rea - Credit: Dan Lewis

Coventry Rugby Chief Executive Nick Johnston has described himself as “absolutely delighted” by the response to his club’s weekend trip to Jersey.

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Following the September demise of Championship rivals and defending champions Jersey Reds, the Midlanders made rapid contact with the island’s amateur club Jersey RFC.

And upon discovering that they faced huge amounts of short-term uncertainty following the winding-up of their former groundshare partners, Cov had no hesitation in offering assistance on the weekend when they were scheduled to face the Reds.

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Instead of cancelling flights and hotel bookings the blue-and-whites’ entire playing group complete with support staff, management and a large contingent of fans therefore arrived in Jersey on Friday as planned.

Alex Rea and his squad then provided to defy the worst of Storm Babet to not only hold their own training sessions but also to run a well-attended Saturday morning coaching session for boys and girls from Jersey RFC’s youth section.

Cov and club sponsor Food Heroes also provided match sponsorship, catering and through their loyal travelling supporters a substantial part of the crowd who watched Jersey battle past Salisbury in really difficult conditions.

Coventry Rugby
Pictures show Cov’s former Jersey prop Adam Nicol coaching youngsters in Jersey last Saturday
Credit: Dan Lewis
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“I have been bowled over by the gratitude of everyone in Jersey towards us,” Johnston said.

“We received the warmest possible welcome from the amateur club who really couldn’t have been more hospitable.

“Despite the weather their juniors turned up in good numbers and seeing how much fun they had and the expressions on their faces at the end of the specialist sessions our players put together was thanks enough.

“In the spirit of rugby we just wanted to do our bit to help – based on this incredible reaction from everyone involved I am really glad we made the effort.”

Johnston also praised the superb attitude shown by Coventry’s young playing group.

“The weather was really awful and there wasn’t a word of complaint from anyone about being asked to train then run a coaching session back-to-back,” he said.

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“All the lads put a smile on their faces and got stuck in to ensure the youngsters had a memorable day.

“We are a community club that values its strong connection with the people of Coventry and Warwickshire. Our sport is nothing without its grassroots clubs and those volunteers who do so much to support them.

“That situation is mirrored across the country and that is why we were so willing to help Jersey. Everyone at the Butts buys into this philosophy as was clear from the huge effort made by Alex plus our playing group and support staff.”

Tickets for Coventry’s Championship opener against Caldy on Saturday at the Butts Park Arena (4pm ko) are available from: https://www.coventryrugby.co.uk/tickets/matchday-tickets/

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