Cov's array of talent just freakish for 1970s
The Rugby Paper|January 24, 2021
MENTION in this column last week of the passing of former Coventry and England lock John Barton called to mind that famous picture of eleven England internationals lining up for Coventry just before the start of their 1973-74 season.
BRENDAN GALLAGHER

And no sooner had that thought occurred than a copy of the picture serendipitously arrived from Coventry.

Barton, shoddily treated by England after a more than decent debut season in 1967, was one of those who pitched up in their England kit at Coundon Road at pre-season training and it’s an interesting picture to mull over nearly 50 years on.

Firstly, although we have become used in modern times to professional teams, with the ability to ‘buy-in’ anybody they want, fielding sides packed with internationals, it was extremely unusual – freakish even – for an amateur club to boast such a vast array of talent at the time.

Almost all of it would have been homegrown or garnered by well-established links with local schools, junior clubs, and Loughborough University up the road, while it should also be noted that a good relationship with the local education authorities was always advisable. Rugby-playing teachers was the richest seam of all to be mined by ambitious clubs in the 70s and 80s.

Another quirky observation, and perhaps the angle of the picture has something to do with it, but all eleven seem much of a muchness in terms of size and shape. This is like looking at a Rugby League line-up. No real extremes of width and height.

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