Davies excited by future despite relegation confirmation
Yorkshire Carnegie Director of Rugby Phil Davies says he is optimistic about the Leeds-based clubs future despite confirmation today from the RFU that his side had been relegated to the third tier of English club rugby from the Greene King IPA Championship.
It was Davies who led the club in to the second tier for the first time back in 1998-99 and the club has never been outside of those higher echelons since then until now. Davies was in charge of the team when they finally gained promotion in 2001 to the Premiership, and twice into the Heineken Cup, and now he says he believes relegation offers the club the chance to press the reset button and build for the future.
He commented, “Unfortunately, relegation was inevitable given the results we had suffered this season but I do think it is a shame for the lads who gave so much this season that they have not had the chance to finish off the campaign. I can only talk about since the turn of the year but I have seen how much hard work these lads have put in on a part time basis and there were shoots of recovery coming; it would have been great for them to get a win but obviously events for all of us have taken an unprecedented turn.
“This is an end of one era that has seen the club rise to the top two divisions, win a Cup at Twickenham, play amongst the elite in Europe, produce numerous internationals as well as offering countless chances for local players to play professional Rugby Union but it is time now for a new era. Playing in National One next season offers us an opportunity to rebuild the club, reset our culture and principles and set the values we want to instil. We want to re-engage with the universities in our city, the general public and business’ in Leeds and find a new way to forge for the people of Leeds a Rugby Union club they can be proud of again,” added the former Welsh international.
Davies, who confirmed the club will have a name change for next season and revert back to Leeds, returned to the club in January 2020 having spent a decade at Emerald Headingley at the start of his coaching career. His first spell saw the club maintain their Premiership status for five seasons, the majority of their eight total seasons in the top flight. Having masterminded that original blue print, Davies is now confident he has the pieces in place to create a new structure for the modern game in, what will be, testing times for all professional sport after the coronavirus lockdown.
He added, “The plan is in place. I have been working with the club’s management since my return to formulate a new way forward and clearly being in National One was a likely outcome, so nothing has changed there. That plan will aim to take the club forward over the next four or five years and I am excited about the future. It is time to look ahead and find a new way of operating. We want to challenge conventions and find a pathway that excites people about what we are doing.
“Last week I put a call out to people to get in touch from our old boys network and it has been heartening to see the response. Lads from all over the world have been getting in touch with me, offering their support and asking what they can do. They now work in business or run their own companies and have their own networks, our challenge is to give them something they can get enthusiastic about,” added Davies.
Having cancelled the remainder of the season two weeks ago, the RFU announced that the final league positions would be calculated on a best playing record formula, maintaining promotion and relegation in the Greene King IPA Championship. Davies says he has no qualms with the decision. He added, “Personally, I don’t have an issue with the RFU’s decision. It has been a challenging last twelve months for everyone associated with Yorkshire Carnegie, our players, staff, owners, directors and of course our loyal supporters. On behalf of the club, I would like to thank them all for their dedication and support. We respect the decision and it gives us certainty to rebuild our infrastructure.
“We want to become a beacon of best practise for coaching, governance, player development but with a sustainable business model. National Division One is an extremely tough competition with experienced and well run teams throughout it. We have to match that and lay our own markers to build a better future together,” added Davies.