Cardiff Blues today confirm that Backs Coach, Gareth Baber and Forwards Coach, Justin Burnell will together take the team forward into the coming season following the departure of Director of Rugby, David Young. One of their first decisions has been to re-appoint Paul Tito as the Captain for the forthcoming campaign, set to be his fourth season in the role.
“It has been decided that Justin and Gareth are to be given the opportunity to manage team affairs with the position being reviewed following this year’s Rugby World Cup which commences in New Zealand in September, said Cardiff Blues CEO, Robert Norster. “It is a great opportunity for two young aspiring Welsh Coaches to put their plans forward and gain greater experience and is a move that is supported by the playing squad who have already been pro-actively engaged in the scheduling of the season’s preparations. The very nature of the professional game for any individual or team is the management of change and recent events have created for us opportunities as well as challenges that we must all rise to meet.”
Referring to Tito’s extended term as Captain, Norster added: “Paul has already proved himself to be the strongest of leaders who epitomises the spirit of our team and is someone who leads from the front whatever the challenge. He is the ideal figure to ensure we remain true to our core beliefs as we aim to draw further on our Strength Through Unity strap line that has served our Region well since inception.”
Speaking on the news of their interim appointments Justin Burnell commented: “It is a great opportunity for both Gareth and myself. We have worked together for the last five years at the Blues Academy, the Premiership and the senior Blues team and now we get the chance to capitalise on all that hard work and we relish the prospect.”
Gareth Baber added: “The decision to provide this opportunity for Justin and myself maintains continuity and is a positive reflection on the coaching structure and environment we have all worked hard to establish to this point. We are both looking positively at the season ahead and are very fortunate to have such a capable group of players and staff as we prepare to tackle the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
Commenting on David Young’s departure, Norster commented: “Since the very beginning, Dai Young has been an integral cornerstone of the Blues Region and is naturally someone we will all miss. On behalf of everyone at the Blues and indeed as a friend, I would publicly like to thank him for his significant contribution to the cause and wish him well with all he undertakes in his future career. Whilst understanding such role changes will rarely be seamless, we very much hope that Dai and his new employers will eventually recognise the need to respect and address the existing contractual position with Cardiff Blues. It is of course disappointing for all parties that events now appear to be taking a legal course which will prevent further comment at this time.”