We may be in a frenzy of managerial sackings and player transfers in the world of football, but it’s rare to see seismic change at this point in a rugby season.
The sporting world has, however, failed to inform Premiership club Worcester Warriors, after the club confirmed an overhaul of their current coaching staff.
Former Russia and Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond, who joined the club as a consultant in late November, will lead the club effective immediately following the departure of head coach Jonathan Thomas yesterday.
The move makes sense in some ways: Diamond has a track record of improving sides he’s coached and he will no doubt have influence on the future of the Worcestershire club.
But in dismissing Thomas, Worcester and the Premiership have lost an exciting coach who had all the tools to make the Warriors a formidable team.
Off the back of an extremely rare away win in Parma, Italy at the weekend, Thomas’s last 10 games have produced four wins, five losses and a draw.
Of course, for very ambitious owners a 50 per cent loss rate is not good enough. But there is a general consensus in rugby that coaches deserve time.
Time is key
Thomas had been in his role for just a year; not too long for a league without the jeopardy of relegation.
At nearby Gloucester, George Skivington needed time to bed in his ideology but they are now fourth.
Harlequins, meanwhile, embarked on an unbelievable run to the title last season without a head of rugby. Different teams work in different ways.
Tweeting after his dismissal, Thomas said: “Nothing but big love for the players, coaches, support staff and supporters. This team is ready to take off over the next 12 months.”
Worcester being a competitive outfit within a year is an aim shared by lead rugby consultant and soon-to-be director of rugby Diamond, who will replace Alan Solomons in that role after the conclusion of this season.
Diamond yesterday insisted that his Worcester outfit would be hard to overcome within a year, and that a little extra “oomph” in the pack could take them a long way.
The former Sale coach also said his predecessor Thomas would have no issue finding employment, calling the Welshman “outstanding”.
The Worcester enigma
The enigma in the saga, though, is Solomons. The South African has been with the Warriors since 2017 and has been key to a transfer policy which has seen them recruit the likes of Rory Sutherland and Duhan van der Merwe – both British and Irish Lions.
He has held the role of director of rugby while Thomas was head coach, and it’s curious to see why Diamond was not just a direct replacement for Solomons, who is leaving coaching at the end of this season.
Diamond said the decision to cull Thomas was one made by the Worcester Warriors board.
The 53-year-old also confirmed that he was satisfied enough with his conditions of employment being met by Worcester to take the job.
What’s for certain is that this is a case of curious timing, but with half a season left for Diamond to stamp his identity on his new squad, it’ll be next year when we see whether he has struck gold.