Rugby, like all sports, is very much a matter of opinion. What happens on the pitch, team selection, performance and decision making, be it right or wrong, will always be debated by supporters, and invariably the supporters themselves will have differing opinions. Last weekend was a case in point.
We have heard for weeks that playing in National Division One is a great opportunity to blood the youngsters; that the players who have been so successful playing in the Guinness A League deserve their chance in the First XV.
Well last weekend against Doncaster (1st October) the coaches felt it was the right time to do exactly this and what do you know there was another group of supporters who felt we had made too many changes, and that far too many of the senior players were not involved in the game! The decision was made to benefit the long-term development both of the players and NEC Harlequins.
We started very well last Saturday, scoring two early tries but failed to carry this through for the full 80 minutes. Having said that, it was an important learning curve for a number of our academy players, three of whom (Charlie Amesbury, Tosh Masson and Chris Robshaw) were starting for the First XV in a competitive fixture for the first time. Nevertheless, the overall performance, although clearly still not at the level that we have set ourselves, fully merited the win and the five points we gained from the game.
There were one or two knocks after the match against Doncaster. Will Greenwood hurt his shoulder and is likely to be missing for a few weeks, while Tony Diprose has a slight ankle strain. In addition, George Harder was a late withdrawal from the team last weekend after suffering a minor groin strain in the final practice run on Friday, and he is unavailable this Saturday.
Furthermore, Pablo Bouza fractured a bone in his hand in training this week and he will be out of action for some three or four weeks. The positive news is that back from injury this weekend will be Ceri Jones, Nick Easter and Andrew Mehrtens, and all should start against Coventry on Saturday afternoon (8th October).
Coventry themselves will be very disappointed with their start to the season, having lost four out of their fives games to date. However, they are a far better team then those results suggest, and we are expecting a very tough and physical game on Saturday, in front of what I am sure will be a very noisy home crowd.
Our own away support this season has been fantastic, with over 750 fans travelling to Nottingham to support the team. The noise they made that day was tremendous and I'm sure we will be in for a repeat performance at Coventry this weekend.
As I said last week, we know that there continues to be room for improvement in our performance. Saturday is the final game in the first section of our season in National Division One and we will re-asses our progress next week, and then set new goals for the next phase of the campaign.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.