DON’T WRITE US OFF

Cinderford is the last home match before the Christmas break and no one needs reminding that the first team are in a precarious position. On Monday this week Head of Rugby Andy Pratt held an open evening with members and supporters to review the situation and to seek their views.
Coaches and players were also present as Andy gave a presentation covering all aspects of the club and laid out plans and future ambitions.
Since the beginning of the season he has been dealt a poor hand by the sheer volume of injuries the senior squad has incurred and that clearly has had a negative impact on selection and performance.
He was questioned, quite rightly, about tactics and strategy and admitted that in those areas some of the emphasis has probably been wrong. He will look for improvements as well as continuing efforts to instil a training culture which, while good, needs to be better.
One of the reasons we find ourselves in difficulties now is, paradoxically, last season’s success and that is perhaps too easily overlooked. While we had a great run it was not until the penultimate game that we were assured of a shot at promotion and a place in the play-off. Planning for the following season would normally start in January or February but it was May before we had clarity about our status after beating Chester. That left us months behind the established teams in National One and that, while not the only factor, has damaged our prospects. Several of the early games proved that we can be competitive and when we clear the decks in the treatment room we may surprise those who have already written Canterbury off.

JOINING THE SQUAD

The game at Bishop’s Stortford saw a second loan player integrated into the senior squad. Alec Thompson, a 24-year –old lock forward from Jersey Reds, made his debut from the bench, He joins flanker Jack Rouse who came from another Championship side, Ealing. Alex is with us to cover the absence of Will Scholes who is to undergo major dental surgery following an earlier training accident. Also returning to the club for a second spell is prop forward Billy Young who arrives on a loan deal with Blackheath.
Alex is a former Ireland Under 20s player who won a professional contract with home province Ulster in 2018 and moved to Jersey this season.
Billy joins to fill the gap left by the departure of Charlie Connolly who was on a short term deal. We have also lost one of last season’s leading points scorers, Harvey Young, who has gone to look for greater opportunities to play in his favourite fly half position.
The injury list continues to be a problem with at least eight senior players still unavailable. The latest to join them is prop Aaron Cooper who has been diagnosed with a medical condition but hops to return in the new year
Future footnote. Scrum half Tom Williams, who made debut from replacements bench at Bishp’s Stortford, became the first player born in the 21st century, to appear in Canterbury team. Hands up the supporter who asked how old he was?

ANDY’S VIEW
Firstly, many thanks to those who attended the Q&A evening. As I said at the meeting it is something we need to do more of as a club. I was keen to hear the views of people who care about the club and share my review on our position at the moment and what we are doing as we look ahead. The passion and goodwill for the club is so evident and it was great to hear some honest appraisals of our position. The support for the team was undimmed as long as they continue to work as hard as they have been.
It has been quite a year for the club and we have a great opportunity to reflect on another decade and look forward to a new one. Like all clubs, we will have opportunities and challenges as we head into it. It is vital we plan well. I’d like to wish everyone at the club a very Merry Christmas.
Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby
ROLLING WITH LAUGHS
Wherever there is a posh charity ‘do’ to be found it is likely that the club chairman, in his various community minded and professional capacities, will be found supporting the good causes. So, this time to the Grosvenor Hotel in London for a sophisticated, black tie dinner with the Lord’s Taverners. The evening was well on its bucolic way when the entertainment began and the comedian appeared. To the fury of many present, we understand, the political content of his material was not much to their taste. In the midst of an election campaign we could not possibly comment on the left, right or centre direction of his jokes but can only report that instead of laughs he got a barrage of bread rolls and had to be dragged defiantly from the stage. In an unconfirmed statement the club chairman denied any culpability in this incident, claiming the only rolls he handled were the half dozen he ate. Sounds like a good old fashioned rugby club dinner to us. PS: The person who booked the comedian has been released from the Tower of London pending further inquiries.

ROLLING WITH LAUGHS
Wherever there is a posh charity ‘do’ to be found it is likely that the club chairman, in his various community minded and professional capacities, will be found supporting the good causes. So, this time to the Grosvenor Hotel in London for a sophisticated, black tie dinner with the Lord’s Taverners. The evening was well on its bucolic way when the entertainment began and the comedian appeared. To the fury of many present, we understand, the political content of his material was not much to their taste. In the midst of an election campaign we could not possibly comment on the left, right or centre direction of his jokes but can only report that instead of laughs he got a barrage of bread rolls and had to be dragged defiantly from the stage. In an unconfirmed statement the club chairman denied any culpability in this incident, claiming the only rolls he handled were the half dozen he ate. Sounds like a good old fashioned rugby club dinner to us. PS: The person who booked the comedian has been released from the Tower of London pending further inquiries.