Dai Young – Fond farewell?
Dai Young’s time in charge of the Cardiff Blues has been a bit of a perplexing one. Media coverage from such outlets as the Western Mail have swept from one extreme to the other over the duration of his tenure, one day decrying his unproven ability and demanding his departure, to now hailing him as a great success and the preordained new Wales coach. The articles being published today point to Young’s ‘success’ as a coach, manifest in three areas, those of winning Anglo-Welsh and Challenge Cup trophies, and a healthy record of wins as coach of the Barbarians. So to summarise, Dai Young has ‘won’ a midweek competition challenged for predominantly by reserve teams, and the losers European Cup, because of course the victory in Europe’s Challenge Cup, requires having failed in the main tournament in the first place to then be allowed to compete in. As for the Barbarians, end of season festival rugby, if I am not mistaken, should probably not be held in quite the same regards as regular season international rugby.
In short, given that the Blues were one of the most commercially viable regions of them all, including the Ospreys, his reign ending with one middle rank trophy and one lower rank trophy to shout about, seems a little short of potential. This I fear is Dai Young’s true legacy, failing to meet potential. Yes there was the excitement and general poor luck of being knocked out of Europe’s main competition through a daft penalty shoot out, but that is one year in many. Who, for instance, can forget the debacle of the defeat to Leeds, perhaps this is a game that should be shouted about more so than any close calls and penalty shoot outs.
Having had at his disposal some of the greats of the recent era of Welsh rugby, not to mention an embarrassment of southern hemisphere talent passing through his door, Dai Young can have few excuses about the teams he could field. Then there are signings, what pray tell was the logic of abandoning the development of Dai Flanagan and bringing in the farcical Dan Parks as the spearhead of attacking rugby in Wales? Bizarre. Really, most of Dai Young’s signings at fly half and in the front-row, presumably his specialist subject area, have been poor, ineffectual at best. Yet this is a man, as he departs Wales, who is being hailed as the next great coaching hope. One can only hope that some of this managerial ‘potential’ that so many others can see, becomes a little more evident in the form of meaningful on field success.
As for the Blues, why not give Dale McIntosh a crack. Pontypridd continue to be the production factory of Welsh rugby, and their development as a team under the chief has been impressive. We don’t need to leave Wales to find coaching talent, and the Blues should avoid overlooking Pontypridd, as they so often like to do.