Steve Diamond has vowed Newcastle Falcons will not follow London Irish, Wasps and his former club Worcester Warriors into “oblivion” and insists he cannot see how he can fail as the new director of rugby despite the club being bottom of the Gallagher Premiership.
Diamond, who received two letters today from Worcester supporters wishing him well in the new role, delivered a no-holds-barred assessment of the current situation at Falcons when he met the media today and made it clear that the coaches and players at the club had five months to prove themselves, He said; “Statistically we haven’t been good in vital areas with probably the worst scrum, the worst line out, certainly the worst defence and the worst attack.
“I don’t know how I can get it wrong, really and it just needs some consistency – a steady hand on the tiller.”
Key to his strategy is instilling the fear of relegation into a team that has lost its last 15 Premiership matches despite the fact there is no automatic promotion for the team that finishes top of the Championship. Diamond insists that a relegation play-off could still theoretically happen but even if it fails to materialise he wants to put ”jeopardy” back into the minds of the Falcons players.
Diamond who had a successful career at Sale where he revealed he kept that club’s spending “ a third under the salary cap for seven or eight years” and had similar financial constraints at Worcester before mounting debts forced the club into administration. The former hooker has been given an assurance the Falcons financial future is sound and with that off-the-field commitment he is now going to turn his attention to the on-field problems.
He said: “There have been three examples of Premiership clubs who have gone into oblivion and Newcastle is not going to be one of those clubs. The league would be bolloxed with nine teams and so everyone needs Newcastle. I have not written this season off and we have to get the planning right and those who buy in will stay and those who don’t won’t.
“Newcastle have lost some old heads in the squad, the coaching has gone from Dean Richards, Dave Walder and Alex Codling and now to me and so there is uncertainty and if there is uncertainty then generally people bottle it. However, apart from the last three or four games they have lost by a whisker. They have been highly competitive and everyone will have a target and put under pressure by me to perform.
“Am I the Messiah? That’s a bit rich but I am certainly looking forward to changing the rugby fortunes up here. Obviously, I am a rugby masochist and it is hard work. I come from the Premiership when there was relegation and real pressure. I have a talented bunch of young kids who once managed correctly and given a plan will go from strength to strength. I have the rest of this season and until September to get this sorted. Initially I have come in to straighten it out with a view of some longevity, two or three years maybe.
“The ownership want to make it as sustainable as they can and being involved at Worcester which ended up as a disaster for various reason as well as Wasps and London Irish and we saw what happened at Jersey and now in Australia. Newcastle as here for the long term and a true Northern club with four lads in the England U20’s and one in the senior England squad. Phil Brantingham (current prop) has left before I arrived and at Sale we became a bit of a selling club but there is a unique opportunity for game time at Newcastle.
“We want to become highly respected and competitive and we have to make it difficult for teams to win up here.”
Diamond continues to be part of the group trying to find a solution to the problem of where the Championship stands in English rugby’s ladder and he believes the parachute payment for a relegated Premiership club and minimum standards for earning promotion will remain in place.” I was asked to get involved and there are independent reports being produced about how to make it more sustainable and we are trying to bring two organisations together and now one wants to see another Wasps, Worcester, Irish or Jersey:” added Diamond.
Diamond tried to save Worcester with the backing of a group of investors and describes the demise of the club as “ ridiculous. “ He explained: “They should be in the Championship and the club is a sad loss to the community of Worcester. The investors we were involved with refused to pay the administrators the amount of money they wanted for a business that had gone under owing tens of millions of pounds. We wanted to pay the rugby creditors but we weren’t prepared to pay what we thought was a ridiculous amount to the administrators and so we walked away.”