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The Dai Young interview

Blues News | 15th January 2021


Dai, welcome back to Cardiff Arms Park. What’s your first week been like?

It’s been pretty hectic trying to meet all the staff, some of which I already knew but not all of them.

I’ve been trying to say hello to the players as well but I’ve been really excited.

I never thought I’d be back. It was something I never thought would happen but certainly when I had that call I jumped at the opportunity to come back and work at the Arms Park again.

It’s been nine months since you left Wasps, is this the right time to step back into rugby?

To be honest, I felt that I needed a break, having been a Director of Rugby for 16 years pretty much.

So it was the right time for me and the right time for the club. The plan was to have three or four months off and then do some networking and CPD work but obviously due to Covid, the rugby world was pretty much shut down.

I’ve certainly had itchy feet over the last couple of months and was probably expecting to get back into the game in June, if I’m honest, but an opportunity came up here and it was something that I jumped at.

You have a long association with this place, how much does the club and the Arms Park mean to you?

It’s hard to put into words. Obviously I have a huge emotional attachment to this club and the supporters and I’m proud to have played for Cardiff and captained them for four seasons.

I then went on to coach the Blues. I was born and bred in Pen-y-Waun in the Cynon Valley so I’ve come from the region, played and coached and it means a hell of a lot to me.

You’ve been away for the best part of 10 years. What’s Dai Young like today, compared to the one that left?

Like everyone, as you get older you mellow a little bit so I’m not so addicted to it all as I was in the past.

You have to be a bit more collaborative and take other views, not just your own.

But I’m much more experienced and much more rounded in my job and this is a great opportunity.

I’m very fortunate to work in sports, but to work in the game that you love and, more importantly, with the club and region that you love, it couldn’t be much better.

When you put the emotional side to one side, and looked at the nuts and bolts of the squad here, what excites you about the role?

To be honest, we haven’t got into too much detail on that. The agreement at the moment is that I’m definitely here until the end of the season and my role, initially, is to come in, work with the coaches, give the coaches and staff a bit of direction and try to help them to get the best out of the team.

If that leads to a longer term contract, so be it. It gives the club an opportunity to look at me, and gives me an opportunity to look at them as well.

But certainly, in an ideal world, it would be something I’d be interested in. 

 

Looking from the outside in, I can see there’s a lot of talent within the squad, a lot of young players and it’s an exciting project.

There’s a lot of young players that can be developed, and that has to be the way forward, not only for clubs in Wales, but clubs right across Europe at the moment.

There has to be a big emphasis on developing your own players, giving them opportunities and try to get the best out of them.

If you can supplement them with one or two boys from outside, so be it. 

But it’s an exciting time here and there are a lot of players here who are on the upwards curve.

Did you watch the game against Scarlets? You must’ve been licking your lips at the attacking potential on show.

 

It was great to see the Blues going out and play like a lot of people say they can play.

There was a real attacking intent and they went out to win the game. That’s important. We can’t sit back and hope we don’t lost the game, we have to go out to win.

There was a real clear intent from the word go and they matched Scarlets physically. They went shoulder-to-shoulder with them and done the physical battle first.

You won’t win any game unless you stand up physically. And then they had the intent to play with decent tempo and scored some good tries.

It’s never perfect. You’ll never get a game that’s perfect, but it was certainly a real step in the right direction and they’ve set a standard for themselves.

They’ve seen how they can play and now they have to maintain on that and improve on that.

There are still a few boys who were here when you were here last time. How many of the senior squad do you know at the moment?

There are probably five or six that I didn’t coach much back then, but they were poking their heads through from the academy.

But even when I was at Wasps, Cardiff Blues would be the second result you’re looking for, and if they were ever on the box, I’d be watching.

So I am familiar with the players’ playing qualities, but not so familiar with their attitude. I don’t know where they are attitude-wise so I’ll lean on the coaches a little bit initially on that and then find out for myself.

But it’s a good blend with a lot of experienced players but also a lot of youngsters on the upward curve.

You probably know quite a few of the boys through your own boys, who have played with them at various age groups.

As I said, born and bred in the region so even when I was away with Wasps I’d come back and watch my boys playing for Cardiff Blues under-16, under-18 and under-20.

Some of the guys that they played with at that time have obviously progressed into the Blues and I know their backgrounds.

I know the qualities that they can bring and they’re a little bit older now and I’m looking forward to working with them all.

It’s a temporary role at the moment in a pretty peculiar season, but have you had a chance to look at any aims? What are your hopes for the rest of the season?

The hopes for the rest of the season, first and foremost, and my view, is that Cardiff Blues should always be at the business end of the season challenging for things.

That’s where we should be. We should be in play-offs every year, and the more play offs you’re in and the more semi finals you’re in, the more chance you have to get your hands on trophies.

It’ll be one step at a time and what I’d like to see is a steady improvement in the players. 

They’ve shown on the weekend how good they can be, and they need to be consistently that good week-to-week.

If it does go down the path of a longer-term project for me and the club, then we can a little more in-depth look at the squad and see where we need to develop and where we need to reinforce.

But at this moment of time, I’m concentrating on trying to give the ship a little bit of direction to support that staff and get the best out of the players.