For a long time at Cardiff Blues it has been felt the coaching structure has not been conducive to the sort of success that everyone associated with the club craves.
From the last season of Danny Wilson’s reign, where it was essentially him and Matt Sherratt running the show with assistance from Richard Hodges and Shaun Edwards, to the last two-and-a-half years when the assistant coaches were in place but there were concerns over a lack of overseeing of the rugby department.
A Director of Rugby hasn’t been a role filled at the Arms Park since the summer of 2017, when Billy Millard left his role as General Manager. Since then it has been unclear who has taken the lead on elements such as recruitment and retention of coaches and players, as well as the rugby department has been lacking a senior experienced head.
The appointment of Dai Young goes some way to covering that though, with the 53-year-old having been a head coach or director of rugby for the last 19 years at the top level in Wales and England, dealing with recruitment and retention as well as taking a hands-on coaching role.
He is an ideal candidate to mentor the likes of Dwayne Peel and Duane Goodfield as young coaches at the Cardiff Blues, as well as taking pressure off Richard Holland in terms of managing the rugby department, leaving the CEO to concentrate on major off-field projects like the Arms Park lease, improving training facilities and getting the branding and commercial arm of the business functioning at optimal level.
As Young returns to the club this week he will find a dressing room in buoyant mood and ready to kick on after some reports of discontent towards the end of the previous regime. They know the talent they possess and the rugby they are capable of playing, the new interim DoR just needs to find a way to produce that consistently.
Recruitment will be key, adding a big ball carrier to the pack and some weight to the tight five, and retention will also be important in terms of keeping hold of our young talent who will form the foundation of the club over the next decade.
Young will also no doubt assess the incumbent coaching staff as well, with questions remaining over our attacking and forwards play this season, although how the assistants perform under a new boss may well be markedly different from their showing in the first half of the season.
More than anything though, Dai will need to add some swagger to this Cardiff team. He knows the club, he knows the history and the reputation, he can restore that little bit of city slicker edge. That chip on the shoulder that nobody likes us. That little bit of arrogance that the best Cardiff sides have walked around with.
We’re in a position where we’re not far off being competitive, especially with planned changes to the season for 2021/22 reducing the number of games during international windows, taking away emphasis on squad depth and who can afford the most quality in their second or third choice sides.
If Dai Young gets the next few months right and commits his long-term future to the club then exciting times await Cardiff Blues. Welcome back Dai, straight to work!