Cardiff Blues: Board and chairman must show leadership, says Gwyn Jones

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Cardiff Blues: What is going on in the Welsh capitol's rugby region?

Cardiff Blues' board and chairman Peter Thomas have to take responsibility for the region's performances, according to former Wales captain Gwyn Jones.

The region have lost four of their five games this season and head coach Danny Wilson has announced he will leave in 2018, declining to take an option to stay on for another year.

Jones claimed on BBC Wales' Scrum V programme the Blues has a leadership problem which has created a number of issues, including:

  • Six changes of coaching teams in six years
  • Wilson having to work without a forwards coach or full-time defence coach
  • Poor recruitment of players and coaches
  • Claims of players undermining the coaches
  • Players having to be released because of a lack of money

"If you look at the Danny Wilson departure as a symptom of the underlying problems there have been at the Blues for the last eight or nine years," said Jones.

"Why is it that they've lost six coaches in six years? That's not a problem with the coaches and the players that's a problem with the leadership and that's the chairman and Peter Thomas."

In addition to being chairman, businessman Thomas is the region's main financial benefactor, investing up to £14m.

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Scrum V Pro14 highlights: Munster 39-16 Cardiff Blues

The background

Cardiff Blues enjoyed stability from their formation in 2003 to 2011 when Dai Young was head coach including winning the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2010.

Since Young's departure for Wasps, the region has had three head coaches or directors of rugby - Phil Davies (2012-2014), Mark Hammett (2014-2015) and Wilson.

However, caretaker coaching teams have run the side for long periods.

Justin Burnell and Gareth Baber were in charge for most of the 2011-12 season, with the pairing of Dale McIntosh and Paul John taking control twice - before and after the appointment of Hammett.

The New Zealander's tenure lasted six months of a three year contract.

The Blues have had discussions with the Welsh Rugby Union about future involvement, which included plans to redevelop Cardiff Arms Park for the professional team and Cardiff RFC, who play in the Welsh Premiership.

However, those have made little progress.

Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas and chief executive Richard Holland
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland (left) and chairman Peter Thomas

Jones view

Jones believes the Blues current coaching set-up is handicapped by a lack of numbers.

Wilson is supported by back coach Matt Sherratt, with Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards coming in one day a week. There is no forwards coach.

"Look at the way the team is playing," said Jones.

"It's not Peter Thomas' fault that they lose a lineout, but it's Peter Thomas' fault, or the board's fault, that they don't have a forwards coach.

"It's not his fault that they miss a tackle but it is his fault they haven't got a defence coach properly in place.

"It's not his fault that Tao Filise gets a yellow card but it is their fault that they've got a 40-year-old tight head prop."

Jones also claimed players had a "back channel" to the chairman, circumventing the coach.

"Can you imagine players going behind the back of Alex Ferguson and saying we're not happy - they'd be gone straight away," he added.

What the Blues say

The region have not responded to Gwyn Jones' comments but before the broadcast they issued this statement on the departure of Danny Wilson.

"We did everything possible to keep Danny at Cardiff Blues but we accept and respect his decision. Our relationship remains very positive.

"We have already received numerous expressions of interest, ranging from experienced club coaches to international quality, and plan to form a working group involving key figures from both Cardiff Blues and the WRU to ensure we get the right man.

"There are clear financial challenges across Welsh regional rugby but our playing budget remains circa £5m which requires benefactor investment, and we plan to invest additional monies to bring the coaching department to a level it has been previously.

"It is vital that we develop talent from within, in line with our strategic plan, and we have also agreed new deals with a number of our existing squad and many others continue in very positive negotiations."

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