Relegation-threatened Yorkshire Carnegie are hoping that ex-Namibia boss Phil Davies can safeguard their Championship status after the 56-year-old was appointed as successor to the sacked Martyn Wood.
The former England international had lost all 13 of his matches in charge, seven in the league to leave the club facing the threat of relegation to National One.
This lack of victories was no surprise, as Wood had minimal time to assemble a squad after Yorkshire switched to a part-time set-up. However, he paid the ultimate price earlier in the week and has now been replaced as director of rugby by Davies, the former Wales backrow who was the most successful coach in his club’s history.
Davies was at the helm when Leeds Tykes were promoted to the Premiership for the first time in 2001, qualified twice for the Heineken Cup and won the 2005 Powergen Cup final at Twickenham.
After a decade in Leeds, he moved on to Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and Worcester Warriors before leading Namibia to consecutive World Cups, including last year in Japan where the minnows had the temerity to briefly lead the All Blacks in a pool match in Tokyo.
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Digging Yorkshire out of the mire will be a massive task, but he insists he is ready for the challenge. “I am honoured to be returning to the club,” he told the Carnegie website.
“When a friend or family member is in need, your natural reaction is to offer any help you can and the club has always felt like family to me. After the World Cup with Namibia, I had decided to take a break from coaching but this is an opportunity too important to turn down.
“First and foremost, I want to work with the current coaching and playing staff to move things forward and fight to keep our place in the Greene King IPA Championship.
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“We will look to strengthen the squad in the short term, if possible, but looking longer term, we want to create a strategic plan for rugby union in Leeds in order to provide a sustainable future for the sport at an elite level in the city.”
As well as running the rugby operation of the club, Davies will also join the board of directors. Managing director Chris Gibson explained: “We are delighted to be able to bring Phil Davies back ‘home’.
“His decade at the club was a very special time for everyone connected to the club. The fact that he is returning so he can try and make a difference speaks volumes for the affection he holds the club in.
“We have 15 games left this season and all our energies will be focused on trying to finish the season as strongly as possible.”
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