Danny Wilson is leaving the Cardiff Blues. With each passing week of on-field positivity and progression the realisation of that sentence is harder to take, but unfortunately it’s the reality that we will soon have to face up to.
In the short-term it’s important to try and keep some stability amongst the playing group and coaching staff to maintain this impressive run of form we’re on, and to stand a chance of success this season to send Danny off with.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that in the background the suits of the Cardiff Blues, with the help of the Welsh Rugby Union, are preparing to make one of, if not the, most important decision in the rugby playing history of Cardiff Rugby.
The next man in the top job at the Arms Park will be tasked with guiding this talented crop of youngsters we are currently nurturing into becoming fully-fledged first-teamers amid a background of financial restrictions and lease negotiations, and then on into the brave new world that will greet us post-CAP redevelopment.
Of course the rumour mill has predictably gone into overdrive, with all the usual Welsh rugby suspects being linked to a job that, despite the off-field situation, still has the ability to attract big names from around the globe. 25 applicants including some with international experience is a testament to that.
What is interesting about this recruitment process so far though is that at no point has a job title been attached to the vacancy which the 25 are applying for, and which the club are actively seeking out other names on a wish-list.
A natural assumption would be that the new man, or woman, would just directly replace Danny Wilson in the job he does now, but what exactly is that job?
Well, originally it was ‘Head Coach’ with responsibility for all the coaching, leaving general manager Billy Millard to run the rugby department, responsible for administration including the signings and retention of players, with input from Danny no doubt.
When Millard moved on at the end of last season I understand Danny was asked whether he wanted to look for a replacement, he refused, and as such is now more of a ‘Director of Rugby’ in terms of being in charge of the rugby department as a whole.
At times it has certainly felt like Danny would have benefited from an experienced Director of Rugby above him, taking pressure off Wilson in terms of the business side of rugby management and media duties, and also able to assist on the training paddock, but mainly to allow him to concentrate on being a head coach.
This is where the question over what Cardiff Blues are looking to recruit comes into the equation.
What they will need to do is establish a settled coaching structure at The Vale, with the current first team setup a hodge-podge of Danny Wilson being the DoR and Forwards Coach, Shaun Edwards a one-day-a-week defence coach and Matt Sherratt the Backs/Attack Coach.
With that in mind it makes sense for the incoming person to be more of a Director of Rugby, overseeing the whole operation as Cardiff Blues moves through the stadium redevelopment phase and into the new Arms Park, with the budgets fluctuating accordingly.
Underneath them a more settled coaching department should see an increase in numbers with what we currently have working at present, but just two full-time senior coaches it is not sustainable in the long-term.
A classic approach of an attack/backs coach, defence coach and forwards/set piece coach, will allow coaching staff to focus specifically on their areas of the game and benefits the ethos of developing from within and bringing young players through the academy and into the first team.
At the recent Cardiff Blues supporters meeting, Richard Holland confirmed the money would be there for the successful applicant to bring in their own assistants while flicking back and forth between referring to a Director of Rugby and a Head Coach, suggesting that the decision on what the new job will be will likely lie with the new person.
As such, a candidate who is able to lie out their entire vision for the rugby department, not just in on-field terms, but off it, is absolutely critical. It is no good to Cardiff Blues solely being a good coach, we require good organisational leader.
I do not envy those making the decision on who needs to come in and lead this club through what could well be the most significant chapter of an illustrious history but, for the love of God, please get it right!