It’s already been a month since the season came to an end from an on-field perspective for Cardiff Rugby, but in many ways it feels as if the campaign is continuing to drag on.
Usually the end of a season brings with it a list of announcements and news stories as one year finishes and preparations for the next get underway. There’s little time for standing still in professional sports, after all, even if the off-season is set to be a much longer one than usual due to the Rugby World Cup.
You’d expect that player signings would have been confirmed in full, player departures would have been announced and those leaving been celebrated as they are bid farewell, the coaching team would have been firmed up, pre-season friendlies would be beginning to be announced, season tickets would be put on sale and excitement would begin to build for the new season no matter how the previous campaign ended.
At Cardiff though we are preparing to head into June still stuck in a weird limbo whereby some of those things have happened; we have had a list of player departures and can purchase season tickets for example, but key aspects such as player signings and the coaching team remain unknown.
The reasons for that are generally accepted, as Dai Young remains suspended while the club carry out an investigation into the circumstances around complaints made against the Director of Rugby, and find themselves in a position whereby they cannot comment publicly with that process ongoing.
Questions will need to be asked around the length of time that is taking and how Cardiff as a club continually manage to get into situations where they are unable to comment on ongoing disciplinary matters as opposed to precedents set by other professional sports teams that can provide full updates to supporters.
It is what it is for now, though.
Perhaps even more pressing than that is the need to confirm what the wider coaching staff will look like with every assistant coach having either announced their departure from the Arms Park or rumoured to be leaving, resulting in nobody available to take pre-season training and, crucially, to organise new signings for a squad that is looking perilously thin on the ground.
Add in the Welsh Rugby Union’s sabotage of the one signing that had been agreed, South Africa fly-half Tinus De Beer, and it’s a bleak outlook for the 2023/24 playing group as things stand.
Once this limbo is over work will need to be carried out quickly and effectively to re-form a coaching ticket, bolster the squad and re-engage with supporters after a turbulent 12-month period where communication has been, understandably, patchy and difficult to get right with goalposts shifting daily and many spanners appearing in the works.
Next season will be a tough one, and that is understood by the majority of those on the terraces, but if a clear three, five and ten year plan can be spelled out to return to a point of competitiveness then there is at least something for fans to look forward to. Taking us on that journey will be key.
In the meantime we’ll keep twiddling our thumbs!