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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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'I don't expect people to feel sorry for us. We're not victims here'

By PA
(Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Steve Diamond does not want to see Worcester portrayed as victims after the crisis-hit club plunged into a state of financial uncertainty. Warriors kick off their Gallagher Premiership campaign against London Irish in Brentford on Saturday, amid HM Revenue and Customs freezing the club’s finances in its pursuit of unpaid tax, and players and staff seeing wages delayed.

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Worcester co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham insist they remain in talks with possible buyers for the business, although four Worcestershire MPs have called for Warriors to be placed in administration. Diamond has kept the squad going through many dark days and they will tackle Irish after playing no pre-season friendlies.

“I don’t expect people to feel sorry for us. We are not victims here,” Worcester rugby director Diamond said. “This is just an unfortunate situation that we have to battle our way out of. I don’t want anyone looking at us and going ‘Ooh, they’re plucky’. That’s not the way we are. We are not going to London Irish as victims, trust me. No chance.

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“There has been a lot of noise outside – quite rightly so with the predicament the club has been in – but what we have managed to do is cocoon ourselves in the training facility which is all on one site, and we have got on with the job in hand. One of the biggest worries was getting paid by the owners, and that happened last Friday which was a godsend.

“I would be telling lies if I told you people weren’t anxious behind the scenes. My job is to keep the pecker up and that is what I intend on doing. The last training week we have had has been outstanding and I’m not just saying that. To get a team out (on Saturday) is pretty good, to perform well will be even better. If we win, we might stop at the first off-licence on the way home.”

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Diamond confirmed flanker Kyle Hatherell, who has indicated a desire to move elsewhere, is the only player unavailable this weekend for Worcester for reasons other than injury. “If an offer comes in for a player, we will always look at it,” Diamond added. “In my career, I could name ten or 15 that I have sold. At this moment, nothing has been agreed.

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“If the right offer comes in and I think it is right and the owners think it is right, we will do a negotiation, but there is only one (player) who that has happened with. One player has asked to leave. That is what happens. I respect their views and their decision-making.”

On the latest financial situation, Diamond said: “They [the owners] have informed me today [Thursday] that they have an investor who has a very strong interest. They are in talks with them now. I don’t know who it is and I haven’t asked. That is all I can tell you.

“I have decided that the most important thing that has to happen at Worcester is they have to get the rugby right. They have never got that right. Many people with better credentials than I have, have never managed to get them above tenth or eleventh place. So my job, if we are allowed and financed, is to do that.”

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