ALEX Rae is hopeful a record crowd will cheer on his Coventry Rugby side in their Boxing Day clash with Midlands rivals Nottingham at Butts Park Arena.
Rae’s men secured a confidence-boosting 33-19 win against basement club Cambridge last weekend and hope to back up that performance with another victory against Nottingham.
After 4,100 fans attended Cov’s Premiership Rugby Cup opener against Saracens in September, Rae hopes the Boxing Day game will attract more than the 4,612 record crowd who watched Cov play Harlequins in 2005/06.
Rae said: “We have two tough games coming up over the festive season against Nottingham and Bedford and I wouldn’t ask for anything different.
“Boxing Day is always a really good fixture which I used to really enjoy when I was playing.
“There’s usually plenty of families in the ground and you’re pretty much certain to have a good-sized crowd which is exactly what you want to run out in front of.
“Everyone in the office is having a bit of fun guessing how many might be here and I’m told ticket sales have gone well.
“Hopefully we will top the 4,000 figure again as we did against Saracens in the cup and it would be great if we could beat the all-time high.
“We have a really good record against Bedford over the last three or four years.
“We could have moved the game against them, but we are happy to give ourselves a six-day turnaround so we get the chance to play in front of four or five thousand again when we go to Goldington Road on New Year’s Day.”
Cov had a clean bill of health following their win at Ellgia Fields in addition to which a couple of recent absentees from the front row are back training with the squad.
And, according to head coach Rae, this has helped with preparations for a vital couple of games against clubs who are currently alongside Cov in the top half of the table.
Rae added: “We didn’t pick up any injuries at Cambridge and we’re also starting to get a few of the injured boys back training.
“We had a few on the sideline at times during our 15-against-15 session on Wednesday which hasn’t happened very often this season and that really helps.
“We’ve had a bad run with front row injuries in recent weeks so to have a few back challenging for spots is really pleasing.
“Since that Hartpury performance the boys have been really focused in training – we had to take a good look at ourselves after that defeat and I think it relit a few fires.
“We’re back to basics and the session we had on Wednesday this week was ultra-competitive. We know we’re built on hard work and when we do that good things tend to follow on matchday.”
Coventry host Nottingham at Butts Park Arena on Boxing Day (Tuesday, December 26) with kick-off at 3pm.
And Cov then head to Bedford on New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1) with kick-off at 3pm at Goldington Road.