Ruddock relishing Worcester challenge

Mike Ruddock is relishing getting to grips with life in the Guinness Premiership after his appointment as Worcester’s new director of rugby.

And Ruddock has offered a ringing endorsement of English domestic rugby’s flagship competition.

“It is a competition that has incredible significance and magnitude. It is the competition in Europe in terms of league status,” he said.

“You only have to look at this season’s European Cup final, and see two English teams occupying the final spots, to realise how advanced and how tough this league is.

“It is a real test for any coach, and it is going to be a big test for me.”

Wales’ Grand Slam-winning coach has agreed a three-year contract at Sixways, returning to the big stage almost 16 months after his shock Millennium Stadium departure.

Reasons for Ruddock’s exit were never fully explained, although Worcester chairman Cecil Duckworth believes it was down to “a couple of people working against him” after he investigated the events that stunned Welsh rugby.

The 47-year-old has spent some of the intervening period helping to coach Welsh League minnows Mumbles – they are one win away from achieving a league and cup double – but he will now take over at one of the English game’s most ambitious clubs.

Ruddock succeeds John Brain, who left the club on Monday, just 48 hours after masterminding Warriors’ Guinness Premiership survival following a 22-7 victory over Saracens that kept them one point above relegated Northampton.

“I have always admired what Mike did with Wales, and I always wondered what happened to his position there once he won the Grand Slam,” Duckworth added.

“I investigated that, and I found it was really a couple of people working against him. Unfortunately, the management board in Wales accepted their view, which I am sure was sad for Wales and sad for Mike.

“There was nothing more to it than that, so we met up and then there was the question of whether or not we should parachute someone in if we (Worcester) continued to lose.

“We built our relationship, and then the question became of whether we should do it anyway (appoint Ruddock) at the end of the season, whether we were in the Premiership or National League One.

“Mike had said he would like the opportunity if I felt it was the way I wanted the club to go.

“I discussed it with my colleagues, and we thought it was the best solution, even though we had managed to win four games out of six and stay up.”

And Ruddock is eager to start work, concentrating on his coaching support staff and potential new signings to follow All Blacks centre Sam Tuitupou, who arrives at Worcester after the World Cup, while former Wales defence coach Clive Griffiths – currently in charge of League One club Doncaster – could also move to Sixways.

“I enjoyed my time with Wales. There were ups and downs, as there is with every rugby situation. I am proud of my record there,” Ruddock added.

“I certainly believe in myself, and I believe any situation in rugby – good or bad – the older you get, the more you learn from them.”

 

365 Digital

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