Davies disappointment with unfinished business at Gloucester
July 30, 2014
Mike Tindall and Nigel Davies on the touchline for what was to be their last game as Gloucester men © Getty Images
Nigel Davies has spoken of his disappointment at being sacked as Gloucester's director of rugby at the end of last season and said he fears the core values of the game are slowly being eroded.
Davies was two years into a three-year contract when Gloucester chose to exercise the right to dismiss him if the club finished in the bottom four of the Premiership. Defeat to already-relegated Worcester in their last game meant they slipped to ninth, one point behind Exeter, and Davies was fired less than 48 hours later. "I was comfortable with the bottom-four clause in my contract," he told the Guardian. "I did not think it would be activated because of conversations I had had and the board had backed my strategic plan."
Speaking for the first time since leaving the club, Davies went on: "I was disappointed not to be allowed to finish what I had started. I was head-hunted by Gloucester and did not need to join them because I was comfortable at the Scarlets, but it was time to test myself in a new environment and after researching the club, I was clear they had a number of deep-rooted problems.
"Performances are the top of the iceberg. What matters is what is below the surface and things were not right. I didn't know how bad it was until I got there and several senior players told me they wanted to leave because of their frustration; I had to convince them not to.
Things were in disarray from a rugby point of view: they had no coaching structure, they had only eight boys in the academy where funding was close to being pulled by the RFU, and their age-grade system only had 80 players in its academy, which was poor for such a rugby hotbed. Now the academy is 25-strong, supported by three members of staff, and the pathway is 350-strong.
"There was only so much we could do with the first-team squad because of existing contracts but it has been strengthened considerably for next season. The balance initially was for an open, flowing game but I felt we needed to tighten up at forward and the front five next season will be stronger. They now have a fabulous squad and I wish them well because there is a lot of me in that."
Davies added that the decision not to retain Mike Tindall ("someone who is steeped in the club") in any capacity was "a big mistake".
He said he had had a number of coaching offers but he has yet to decide on his next move. "One of my frustrations over the years has been dealing with rugby administrators and perhaps that is something I might look to go into. I think I can bring something there and it looks more attractive than it has been for some time, putting the emphasis back on rugby and less on business and politics.
"Businessmen bring a lot to it but we have to be careful not to lose what we are."
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