Cardiff Blues column: Season virtually over

A recent defeat to local rivals Newport Gwent Dragons in the quarter finals of the European Challenge Cup that the Cardiff Blues’ season is virtually over with three Guinness Pro 12 fixtures still to play. With the Blues languishing near the bottom of the table, the capital city region have been condemned to a second successive season without top flight European rugby.

When one considers that the Cardiff region were once one of the genuine superpowers of European club rugby, their current position is truly unacceptable. Of course the spending power of the English and French clubs has made it extremely difficult for the four Welsh regions to compete on the European stage. However, there is no excuse for the Blues’ woeful Pro 12 form, with the Arms Park outfit having a better squad on paper than many of the sides ahead of them on the table.

With regional rugby facing something of a cross roads in Wales, a healthy future for the Cardiff Blues lies in the hands of their board of directors. Although they may not like to admit it, the appointment of the now departed Mark Hammett as director of rugby turned out to be the wrong appointment. Results were never going to improve over night, but the appointment of former All Blacks hooker Hammett was supposed to be a long-term project with the region expecting to be in a stronger position after his three-year contract was over.

It is vital that the Blues appoint the right man to take them forward, whilst also allowing him a full three years before judging whether he has been a success or not. What is also important is that the new head coach is given the luxury of selecting his own assistant coaches, and is also given freedom to sign his own players within the current budget. With the Blues already finalising their recruitment for next season it is likely that whoever is appointed is going to have to work with what he has got in his first season before building his own side the season afterwards.

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