With fake news a big topic recently, I have to apologise for leading you down the garden path with an early version of this article. The new appointment will be Clive Jones, as below, rather than his brother Chris Jones as previously reported. An honest mistake I promise!
Cardiff Blues have lined up a replacement, of sorts, for outgoing General Manager Billy Millard, with Coleg y Cymoedd head coach Clive Jones set to join the coaching staff over the summer.
What the job title is remains to be seen as Jones’ brief will be solely to work on guiding players aged 18-22 from age grade rugby into the first team at Cardiff Blues. This is quite a markedly different role description from that of Millard’s which was based around player release and retention, recruitment and managing budgets.
It would also seem to be partially crossing the role of Academy Manager Richard Hodges, who would see his role reduced to focusing on the under-18 and under-16 sides, while potentially being relieved of his duties in charge of the British and Irish Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup sides.
There is a possibility that Hodges may well look to take up the role as Cardiff RFC Head Coach though, as Duane Goodfield steps down after a disappointing season in charge of the Rags to focus on his role within the academy setup.
Jones himself is an interesting appointment to the new job. Despite never really making it beyond Trecorchy RFC as a player he has excelled as a coach, throughout the late 80s and early 90s alongside brother Chris at Pontypridd, transforming their forwards into a real powerhouse as well as putting youth systems in place both at Ponty and Treorchy.
Since then he has become the Director of Rugby at Coleg Morgannwg, now Coleg y Cymoedd, presiding over a period of great success. CyC have reached numerous WRU College League Finals, as well as the latter stages of the British Colleges Premier League and British Colleges Cup.
On top of that the rugby academy in the college has helped to develop a huge number of players over the last few years including Jarrod Evans, Aled Summerhill and Dillon Lewis, and last year Clive Jones had 21 representatives in the Cardiff Blues U18 team.
Tomos Williams, who has really broken through into the first team this season, rates Jones alongside only his own Dad as the biggest influence on his rugby career thus far.
The flip side to these achievements comes in two forms though. Firstly, Jones has not had a job in a senior rugby environment since Pontypridd in the early 2000s, and has not been involved with anything at the professional level since the 2003 upheaval, although his experience working within the Cardiff Blues development pathway will be valuable.
He is clearly thought of highly in Welsh rugby coaching circles, although perhaps does not quite have the coaching pedigree that could be attracted if money was available for a top name coach, and does not have first hand experience of the Pro12.
Also, Jones will find himself viewed with some suspicion by certain parts of the support following an interview given to the Pontypridd website back when they came under the Cardiff Blues development pathway in 2004.
In it he is directly quoted as saying “They (Cardiff Blues) will have to brand themselves only as The Blues if they are serious about reinventing the region. There is a long tradition of hostility to Cardiff in this part of the world (Valleys) and so the new dawn must be sold and marketed as the Blues.”
His personal views aside though, I’m prepared to give him a chance at succeeding in his brief to bring on the next generation of Cardiff Blues players, because if we’ve learned one thing this season it’s that we really need them.
Turning this current group of exciting youngsters into established senior professionals is absolutely crucial in terms of providing the squad with the depth it requires to compete in the current setup, as well as improving the quality of the starting XV in certain cases.
Appointing Jones shows a desire to further improve links with the wider regional development pathway, as well as ensure that the current 18-22 year old players reach their potential, even if it’s a risk in terms of specific experience.
It does though raise more questions than answers in terms of exactly how Millard will be directly replaced, with nobody seemingly having the brief to sign, contract or release players, while Richard Hodges’ role is up for debate. The drama goes on.