Anglo-Welsh Cup Final, Twickenham
Ryan promises changes at Kingsholm
April 18, 2009
Gloucester boss Dean Ryan looks on as his side are defeated, Gloucester v Cardiff Blues, Anglo-Welsh Cup final, Twickenham, April 18, 2009
Dean Ryan has promised changes after his side's heavy loss © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Dean Ryan | Dai Young

Gloucester boss Dean Ryan was frank in his assessment of his side's shortcomings after their humbling 50-12 loss to Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final at Twickenham. Promising a summer-overhaul, Ryan believes that he has gone as far as he can with his current batch of players.

"This journey is coming to an end and I don't mind taking a step back to start another journey," he said. "We've been successful in reaching finals, we just haven't won trophies. We must start the journey again with another group of players. Today we were significantly second best and we can't hide from that.

"Previous encounters have been about learning, today was about reality. We deserve credit for reaching finals year-in, year-out but I don't want to keep losing them. This group isn't good enough to compete at this level. We have to accept that and it will be part of our review over the summer. You have got to recognise when the learning process is over and I think everyone at this club is at that point.

"We will look at taking the club in a different direction with a different group of people in the next year. We must address the problem with recruitment. It's no accident that some of this squad haven't gone on to become internationals and it's no accident we don't have five or six Lions contenders."

Ryan will certainly be under pressure after his side again failed to produce the goods in a pressure situation, but he deflected questions about his future at the club, saying that his tenure as director of rugby was the concern of Gloucester chairman Tom Walkinshaw.

"I fear for this industry - it's constantly about the jobs of directors of rugby," he said. "We were sat at the top of the Premiership for two years but when it comes to finals my side is coming second best. I need to accept that and come up with plans to take us forward. I also need to see if Tom wants me to do that.

"If there's something I've done wrong in the past it's keeping faith with individuals hoping they'd improve when there were opportunities to change. That's not a mistake - I like to see players get better - but that process doesn't always end in a bed of roses. If there's a failing then it's probably because I kept faith with them for a year too long."

In contrast, Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young is reaping the rewards of several years' hard work, having survived periods of intense pressure and calls for his head from fans and the media. Young was delighted with his side's performance but insisted that he never thought that victory would come in such an emphatic fashion.

"We didn't think we'd score 50 points against a team like Gloucester. I'm very proud of the effort and the skills," he said. "It's been a long journey at the Blues because of the restrictions in place. We had to work with the younger players. We had to make sure everything was right with recruitment and today the seasoned internationals really stood up and led us.

"It's been a lot of hard graft but days like today make it worthwhile. The players were determined to make sure they came here and achieved something because they deserved it."

Young will be an interested onlooker when the British and Irish Lions squad is revealed by tour manager Gerald Davies on Tuesday, and he has every faith that there will be a strong Blues contingent on the plane to South Africa.

"Tom Shanklin, Martyn Williams and Gethin Jenkins are dead certs," said Young. "Jamie Roberts has put his hand up and Leigh Halfpenny will be there or thereabouts. That's reward for what the players have done for us and with Wales. As a region we're proud to supply players to Wales and to have some guys on the Lions tour is further reward."


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