English Rugby
Back relishes Rugby Lions opportunity
ESPNscrum Staff
July 5, 2011
Leeds head coach Neil Back, Leeds Carnegie v Gloucester, Aviva Premiership, Headingley, Leeds, England, January 1, 2011
Back has chosen to drop down to the fifth tier of English rugby following his departure from Leeds Carnegie © Getty Images

Former Leeds Carnegie coach Neil Back has been announced as the new head coach of fifth-tier club Rugby Lions.

The National League 3 Midlands side are being bankrolled by former player and businessman Michael Aland and he approached World Cup winner Back within an hour of his departure from the now Championship side Leeds. Back, who has signed a five-year contract, is relishing the chance to turn Rugby Lions into a Premiership side and insists the move was not based on money.

"This is an incredible challenge and one which, after a great deal of thought, I felt I could not turn down," said the 42-year-old, who was capped 66 times by England. "I received an approach from Michael in May, less than an hour after my resignation from Leeds was announced.

"He sold me his vision of taking this famous club back to the top flight of English rugby, while doing something really meaningful for the town. It's a big call for me having coached in the Premiership and I have asked myself whether it's a retrograde step given how ambitious I am.

"It's not about money. Nor is this is an easy option by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I asked for a five-year contract. But I believe that turning around Rugby and getting the club to the Premiership would be a significant achievement and one I can use as a stepping stone to coaching at the very highest level."

Back will be joined at Rugby by the all-time record points scorer in sevens international rugby, Ben Gollings. Gollings revealed he had not received a new central contract in June and he will now join Back at Rugby as their player/attack coach. Aland, the owner and managing director of Vancouver-based Rugby Construction Group, hopes to build a new 30,000 capacity stadium, complete with retractable roof.

Back believes five to seven years is a realistic time frame for the club to realise their ambition of once more competing in the top flight and Aland is keen to ensure the club will be "financed as a stand-alone project." Finance aside, when Back became available, Aland was adamant he was the man to realise his vision.

"I feel there is a lack of an academy for the developing world of rugby," Aland said, talking to The Daily Telegraph. "So my idea was to acquire a club in the UK and bring players through in a way conducive to the country they represent. But this is very much about giving the town of Rugby something of which it can be proud.

"Any time I put a company together I always start with as good a management team as I can get. I looked around the Premiership and the second Neil became available he was my number one candidate."

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