New director of rugby Dan Richmond hopes to lead a revolution at Sheffield Tigers – but the former Northampton Saint will take it one step at a time.
Richmond has already made his mark. The National Two North club has established a Colts section, is hosting development evenings for local coaches and, through Richmond’s influence, took a trip down to Saints fortress Franklin’s Gardens for a friendly against Bournemouth Lions last month.
But despite the new developments the ex-Premiership hooker is at pains to lay foundations first. “We are focused on making a real positive, friendly atmosphere to attract players to Sheffield Tigers” said Richmond. “But in doing that we are looking to move the club forward at a pace that it can keep up with.
“Some coaches come in to the league and take examples of Premiership or Championship clubs and how they’ve progressed but it can be too much too soon.
“It’s a results-based industry as well so it’s about adopting a mindset of creating a winning habit and develop game understanding and core strengths, as well as playing a style of rugby that can excite players and supporters alike.”
He added: “Since I took on the role quite late, player recruitment has been handled by a couple of board members and particularly Richard Selkirk, the vice-chairman, has done a great job.
“We’ve got the likes of Dom Parsons in again from Doncaster, and David Bradford who’s impressed so much with his attitude and leading by example that we’ve made him first-team captain.
“Playing on one of the training pitches at Franklin’s Gardens gave the players a reward for their commitment and it was fantastic to see the boys’ reaction. It becomes the norm for me after being capped for Northampton about 100 times but it brought it back to what it’s all about.”
It may be all change for the Tigers but Richmond will be aiming to build on last season’s sixth place – the club’s highest-ever finish.
Their first outing of the campaign will be at home to Preston Grasshoppers on September 7, who finished fourth last year.
And though there have been some high-profile departures during the off-season – not least 2012/13 top try-scorer Jamie Broadley to Rotherham Titans – the ambitious 34-year-old is adamant there is a lot of talent left to compete.
“We had a fantastic season last year and because of that success some players have moved onwards and upwards,” added Richmond.
“That creates gaps in the squad for the next player to step into and I’m very pleased with the progress that’s already been made.
“Traditionally Sheffield Tigers have got a very exciting back line and a lot of pace in the back three so it would be foolish not to embrace that.
“And Preston are a very attack-minded team with a fantastic backline too so the first game of the season is going to be a high-flying, action-packed game, end-to-end between two teams who want to attack.
“My long-term goal is to coach at the highest level possible, and the committee at Sheffield Tigers share a similar ambition and drive. Before anything like that I’ve got a job to do at Sheffield Tigers and I will be judged on the success of that.”
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