In over ten years, I don’t think there has been many a darker place for Cardiff Blues fans.
The first year of their inception was not a successful one. It started with a loss against Glasgow, and we now find ourselves taking a long look at the Cardiff Arms Park outfit after another loss to the Warriors; albeit this time on home turf.
The 2003/2004 season was not a successful one for many reasons. Namely, there was an inexperienced coach at the helm of a group of players with very sparse quality. Only Iestyn Harris, Matyn Williams, Tom Shanklin and Jamie Robinson were up to the task in that first season.
Ten years on, and we find the same story – but it isn’t the international players who are leading the way for the Cardiff based region. Robin Copeland, Dan Fish, Josh Navidi and Rhys Patchell are some of the only players to emerge this season with credit. Along with a few youngsters who have suffered with injury (Kristian Dacey, Owen Williams, Corey Allen) – you feel as though the pride has left the shirt.
The appointment of Dale McIntosh and Paul John is a good move; a very good move. However, they need to be able to apply their principles in an environment where by they can challenge the players. Currently, it is hard to see any players being challenged. The current Cardiff Blues squad contains four British & Irish Lions and 21 internationals from Wales, Samoa, Tonga and, oddly, Cyprus.
60 minutes in to the game last Friday night you sensed a feeling that while Cardiff Blues were not ahead by much; they had complete control of the game. Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins, both released by Wales in order to increase game time prior to the battle with France this coming Friday night, exited the pitch with the Arms Park outfit in complete control of the game with little over twenty minutes to go.
Then, to the sheer disbelief of the Arms Park faithful; they went in to shut-down mode. Cardiff Blues lost that game to an under-strength and average Glasgow outfit who offered very little expcept desire. What the Scots lacked in ability they made up for with determination and collective effort.
The post-match interview with Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby, Phil Davies, spoke volumes for what is going on in the camp at present. Davies’ repetitive and disconcerting rabble must have left very few Blues fans feeling reassured.
Is Phil Davies the man to lead Wales’ capital region? Has his time in charge delivered poor results mixed with flashes of inconsistent mediocrity?
The European home win against Toulon earlier in the season was impressive, but if truth be told, Toulon were pretty dire that day. There has been encouraging results elsewhere; with the double header over Glasgow a notable mention, but there has been little else.
Winning only four league games all season leaves Cardiff Blues in ninth position and bottom of the Welsh pile – not something that makes attractive reading to anyone; most notably Mr Peter Thomas.
The Arms Park has already seen on coach exit this week. Ex-Cardiff and Wales fly half Mark Ring was dismissed earlier this week from his post as Cardiff RFC back coach. The board of the semi pros that play in the Welsh Premiership were understood to be unhappy with his progress and decided to step in.
Would you bet against the Blues board following suit?