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Steve Diamond: 'It was like going to a funeral for six hours'

By Liam Heagney
Newcastle boss Steve Diamond (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Steve Diamond has started to pick up the pieces of the latest Newcastle setback, getting his players back on the training ground on Wednesday following a couple of days off after the embarrassing hiding suffered last Sunday at Bristol.

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The bottom-of-the-table Falcons slumped to their 15th successive Gallagher Premiership defeat this season, getting annihilated 85-14 at Ashton Gate on a 13-2 try count after improved performances in their previous two games with new boss Diamond at the helm of the team he inherited from the sacked Alex Codling.

Newcastle battled to a 16-25 loss at Exeter on March 23 and followed it by giving Leicester a fright in a 13-19 home defeat six days later. However, the 23-day gap until their next outing at Bristol turned into a disaster as the hope they would be a better-prepared team with the three-week lay-off was shattered by going three tries down as early as the 13th minute.

Video Spacer

Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

Video Spacer

Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

Diamond travelled back to the northeast on the team bus and quizzed by RugbyPass about what that 500-kilometre trip was like, Diamond quipped: “Well, they were high-fiving, we stopped at a couple of brothels on the way back and bought loads of booze. What do you think it was like, Liam? The bus, there wasn’t deathly silence but it wasn’t far off. It was like going to a funeral for six hours.”

How did they fill the time? “Well, we obviously watched the game in the front of the bus and we had a discussion but I am a big believer in not being reactionary, so we weren’t going down the aisle in the bus every 20 minutes giving them a bollocking.

Attack

305
Passes
67
180
Ball Carries
58
538m
Post Contact Metres
127m
26
Line Breaks
2

“We were chatting away and the staff and the players keep themselves to themselves. When you win a game comfortably, it’s the same thing happens. There is no change on the bus. If there is at other clubs that’s new to me. But we put it to bed until we come and review the game 24, 48 hours later.

“The lads were obviously very disappointed but no different to when they have been beaten by a high score before. I don’t know what’s worse, getting beaten 85-14 or losing without a bonus point by 20-10. They’re both frustrating but the beauty of the job, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. It’s not an easy task. I have been set the task to get it sorted and it’s important that everybody sticks together and we have a plan moving forward week by week, month by month.”

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Such was the embarrassing margin on the scoreboard in Bristol, it would have been understandable if Diamond had given the players an Alex Ferguson-style hairdryer treatment. However, having avoided giving a verbal spray, was his tact appreciated?

“I don’t know whether appreciate is the right word if I’m honest. I think they respect being treated like adults who have not performed. And like the coaching staff haven’t performed either; it’s not just them.

“But it’s a short time to turn around and the beauty of the game is if you turn up mentally not right you get it handed to you like happened in Sunday, but we have seven days later we have got the opportunity to put a performance in and be motivated to maybe not get a top four spot, we’ll definitely not but to get some pride.”

Diamond’s old club Sale are the visitors to Kingston Park next Sunday where a family fun day has Newcastle poised to welcome their biggest attendance of the season – beating the 7,112 high last month versus Leicester and boosting the current average of 5,755. Did the consultant director of rugby have a message for the fans?

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“No message from me really. The biggest crowd of the season; I think the support base will be patient with me coming in like I have done. They are voting with their feet, ie the biggest crowd of the season.

“We have had 35, 40 sponsors here today [Wednesday] who have been involved, watching training and listening to the team meetings which we were very open with. My job at Newcastle is to attempt to get the rugby right over the next three to five years and that’s what we will do.

“The marketing team, obviously by having the biggest crowd of the season, do a very good job. If they need advice, they probably don’t need to come to me on that. I need advice, if anybody, because I’m the one who is not pulling my weight by the looks of things getting beat 85-14.”

Has last weekend’s thrashing been talked about yet with club owner Semore Kurdi and chairman of rugby Matt Thompson? “No. Don’t need to talk it over. We all have roles and responsibilities, accountabilities. That’s the way it works. The rugby committee meets once a week. We’ve not met this week because it was Tuesday and it was a day off. We will no doubt catch up sometime in the week.”

Diamond was blunt when asked for his assessment of his Sale successor Alex Sanderson, who will come to Newcastle looking to enhance his team’s play-off prospects. “Done a cracking job,” he said curtly before going on to suggest that coaching versus the Sharks was no big deal despite all the time he spent at the Manchester club as a player and coach.

“Well, I coached Saracens, coached Worcester against Sale, did the recruitment for Northampton for four years, so I have come across Sale many times. There is a lot of good memories and a lot of friends who worked there and work there still. There will be no of that kerfuffle before the game. After the game we will shake hands and people will move on, like they always do.”

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