Sir Ian McGeechan says the new Yorkshire Carnegie will not be rushed into appointing the rebranded club’s first head coach.
The official launch of Yorkshire Carnegie took place yesterday with a new royal blue kit with a white rose crest the most striking change about the whole operation.
The rest remains very much the remnants of the old Leeds Carnegie, with the investment not yet in place to help the new brand realise their long-term ambition of being the county’s best chance at sustainable and successful Premiership rugby.
McGeechan says substantial investment will hopefully be realised within three months with the aim being to have people from across the region bringing money into the club.
A new board of shareholders and owners will be created when the investment is sourced and approved.
Carnegie want between £2m and £4m to help them build an integrated system that begins at school level and goes all the way through the academy system into Yorkshire’s first team and, in exceptional cases, into the England team.
The first stage of that – developing scholarship programmes in schools across Yorkshire and strengthening the regional development programme – has been in motion since Carnegie announced in February their intentions to rebrand in an effort to harness the best resources in White Rose rugby.
The club also confirmed they have a squad of 35 players ready for next season – with the one obvious hole to fill being that of head coach.
Carnegie began pre-season late last month without a head coach after James Lowes quit to take up the top job at Bradford Bulls.
That was 16 days ago, but McGeechan – who along with chief executive Gary Hetherington will have the final say on the appointment – insists there is no timeframe on naming Lowes’s successor.
“We’re leaving it open at the moment, we’ve had 18 to 20 names put forward to us which is good,” said McGeechan, the club’s excecutive chairman, who has been overseeing pre-season training.
“Chris Gibson (director of rugby) will then look through that and we’ll draw up a shortlist.
“But it has to be someone who is part of the ethos we want. Diccon Edwards and then Jimmy last year took on the type of rugby environment we wanted to create and we want to keep on developing.
“We want somebody to take that on. It has to be the right character with the right chemistry.
“We’re in no rush, we’ve now got the names and Chris will come back to us with the shortlist and we’ll take it from there.
“There’s an interesting mix of applicant. It gives us a little bit of thinking to do. You might see someone at a game and like them but then you speak to them and see what their philosophy is, strengths and weaknesses are, and how that fits the bill for what we want.”
McGeechan and Hetherington both stated they were happy with the level of interest in Yorkshire Carnegie from prospective investors.
“It’s been encouraging,” said McGeechan. “We’ve got a lot of interested people and I’m happy with the interest shown and the type of people showing that interest.
“We have a three-month programme that we are looking at. Hopefully then we’ll have the right conclusions to take things forward.”
McGeechan added that the success of Yorkshire Carnegie is not wholly dependent on that income being attained, because the structures are already being put in place, but if it is to be a success, then it does need financial support from across the region.
“As the Yorkshire business spectrum gets wider it will give us that opportunity,” he said.
“What I want is the talent coming through our integrated system, and then to be able to add to that with very high quality, experienced players that sustains that momentum and that stability.
“Having the name Yorkshire Carnegie means we’ve now got an opportunity from a business perspective as well as a rugby perspective to say we’re all behind one name and one badge.
“That to me looks like a very strong, powerful base on which to grow with programmes that you can put in place that everybody can relate to.
“Now we’ve got a responsibility to deliver, to build relationships, and share knowledge so that we can make this the best rugby environment in the country.
“With the start we’ve made at development level we’re now looking at 200 to 250 boys per age group whereas 18 months ago we were looking at just 50.
“In professional terms, I felt we needed to take another step if we were really to become – or have the opportunity to become – a sustainable Premiership club. We had to be different. That is Yorkshire Carnegie.”
County bosses support name
Yorkshire Carnegie have the blessing of the county rugby football union, says Yorkshire RFU president Ted Atkinson.
He said: “Initially we were reluctant to give up our name but having looked at the proposal, and having spoken to Sir Ian McGeechan, we realised that that wasn’t the case.
“Once everything came together it became patently obvious it was a win-win situation for all of us.
“We’re happy about it and we see things moving forward.
“Hopefully, this is the start of a long road to a professional side that will be competitive in the Premiership.”