HEAD Coach Nick Walshe believes Coventry Rugby can go one better in the 2019/20 RFU Championship season, to build on the club’s eighth-place finish last term.
The club are currently in the early stages of their pre-season preparations ahead of the season kick off in August, and are confident of challenging for a top six finish – after finishing just four points off sixth-placed Yorkshire Carnegie in 2018/19.
Walshe says the final two wins of the season at Doncaster and Jersey Reds – Coventry’s only two wins of the season on the road – will prove decisive going into the new campaign.
“We came eighth this year, were one point off seventh and four points off sixth, and that would have made things very different, but will take where we were,” he said.
“The wins [against Doncaster and Jersey] were absolutely huge. If we’d have lost them the table would have looked very different and it would have been harder coming back into the pre-season.
“We showed in those games what we could do, what it meant to play for the club in front of the travelling fans who went to Doncaster and Jersey, and for whatever criticism we got at times during the season the boys never gave in, we never stopped believing, and I think it’s hopefully set us up for pre-season.
“The boys came in buoyant, in good spirits and are keen to work hard.”
Coventry head into their third week of pre-season with head of strength and conditioning Chris Hart and his team, who have put the players through their paces at Butts Park Arena, in the Lake District, and at Newbold Comyn in Leamington Spa.
The Coventry head coach pinpoints the fitness of his side as a key area for improvement, and says the improved levels can have a considerable impact on their fortunes next year.
“We have structured this pre-season – which is a long pre-season – to make sure that Chris has his time and that the players are conditioned first before we introduce some ball work.
“One of the biggest things for us this year is to be more conditioned, to be fitter and stronger, to match the quality sides in the Championship.
“If we can do that then it will stand us in good stead.”
He admits that the club are looking up for the new season and hopes to mark improvement during the 22-round campaign.
“The standards we’re setting ourselves are massively high,” said Walshe.
“We want to be the best we can, but it takes time, you’ve got to build it over the years, and you’ve got to have the best people you can have at that time.
“Any team which aspires to be a top team has to realise that it takes time; Saracens have been together for a lot of years and they are reaping the rewards.
“Rowland (Winter), myself and the group who came in three years ago have come a long way.
“We’ve got that desire, the players are buying in, we want to get the club as high as we can and are working hard to achieve that.”
Season tickets remain on general sale with prices frozen from last season, with more information available at www.coventryrugby.co.uk/members to renew or buy.