COVENTRY Wheelchair Rugby Club finished third in the opening series of the GBWR 5s Summer Championship League, ensuring the club made an impression on their debut.
Playing at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium – the national centre for disabled sport, and the inspiration for the Paralympic Games – the club topped Pool A after winning their opening three games, advancing into the semi-final where they lost to Norfolk Knights.
They recovered with an emphatic 26-9 beating of Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors in the third/fourth place play-off ensured a successful opening bow for Coventry WRC.
The club only formed at the beginning of the year, as an offshoot of Coventry Rugby’s work in the community.
But despite being newbies – the group of Martin Taylor, Jeff Youell, Lee Taylor, Jake Humphrey and George Davies, and coaches Leanne Taylor and Mandip Sehmi, sought to make an early impression.
Coventry went four tries behind early on in their opener against Woodbridge, but they recovered miraculously to win 20-17.
That confidence boost was evident as they beat Bournemouth Rising 18-10, then dismantled Hatfield Comets 22-4.
Topping Pool A with maximum points and a positive points difference of 31, they took on Pool B runners-up Norfolk Knights, but were met by a resilient Knights side who stormed into an eight-try lead by the break.
Coventry recovered to level the game at 14-14, but were downed by a last-gasp try with just 0.3 seconds left on the clock to miss out on the final.
They went straight into the third/fourth play-off, and earned some consolation by battling hard to earn a 26-9 victory in a re-match against Woodbridge.
A third place on the club’s debut, only losing once to the pre-tournament favourites and eventual winners Norfolk, plus having the best attacking record and second-best defence during the tournament, is something which vastly impressed head coach Sehmi.
“We went in with no expectations,” he said.
“I said to the players we’re here for the first time and the most important thing is we enjoy ourselves.
“I was so proud of the team – to lose by one in a semi-final after being so many tries down as the new team – it was priceless.
“You cannot create those situations in training, the team showed so much heart to come back!”
Coventry WRC now look ahead to the next series, back at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on July 14.
The club are always on the lookout for new players, volunteers and sponsors, and invite anyone interested in getting involved with the club to email firstname.lastname@example.org