Carnegie get their man for promotion challenge

Yorkshire Carnegie have delivered on their pledge to appoint a head coach with Premiership experience by naming Bryan Redpath as the man to take them forward.

New Yorkshire Carnegie coach Bryan Redpath.

The 44-year-old former Scotland international, who only left a similar role at Sale Sharks on Monday, has signed a two-year deal and starts work immediately.

He arrives with the express aim of getting Carnegie into the Premiership.

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While head coach at Sale, Redpath was very much second-in-command to director of rugby Steve Diamond.

At Headingley, he will assume the lead role, one he enjoyed at Gloucester before joining Sale in 2012.

Redpath comes with a wealth of top-flight experience and is a departure from the recent appointments the club have made.

Going back to Stuart Lancaster in 2006, through Andy Key and Neil Back, Diccon Edwards, James Lowes and Gary Mercer, Carnegie have always appointed first-time head coaches.

The choice of Redpath is one that suggests the new board are serious about the club regaining their place in the Premiership.

Eight new investors will put between £2m and £4m into the club before the end of the 2017 season with the aim of taking Carnegie back into the top flight.

That ambition is one matched by Redpath, who made 60 
appearances for Scotland in a playing career that took him to three World Cups and club spells at Melrose, Narbonne and Sale Sharks.

“I am excited about the massive opportunity and challenge we have here at Yorkshire Carnegie,” said Redpath, who climbed through the coaching ranks at Gloucester after retiring from playing in 2005.

“There is a clear vision for what the club wants to do over the next few years and I want to be part of that project.

“The Championship is a hard division to get out of but this group of players has tremendous potential and the ability to ultimately get us back into the Premiership.

“To give ourselves the best chance of doing that next season we must finish in the top two, however, I am sure the players will also want to finish this season strongly.”

The fact that Redpath starts work immediately will give Carnegie and their fans hope that what has been a wretched season will not become a complete write-off.

It took them nine weeks to appoint Mercer as a replacement for Lowes last summer and they were punished for that with a slow start to the season that saw an abrupt end to the Kiwi’s brief reign.

The club showed flickers of life under stand-in head coach Tommy McGee, but he was never publically backed and the two parties went their separate ways last week.

Redpath now has five games –three at home – in which to work towards a game plan and a squad shape for next season.

Qualifying for the top four is not beyond the realms, though, with Carnegie trailling fourth-place Rotherham by eight points there is no margin for error for the Headingley club.

“Once Bryan became available, we were keen to bring him to Yorkshire Carnegie,” said the club’s director of rugby, Chris Gibson.

“We have five games remaining this season and we want to finish as high as we possibly can in the final table; Bryan’s arrival will certainly give the team a lift and, hopefully, enable us to finish this season strongly.

“By coming in now, Bryan will be able to play a key part in shaping our plans for next season both in terms of retaining our current squad and recruiting new talent and that will certainly give us an advantage moving forward.”

Whatever happens this season, the hard work begins in the summer for Redpath as he looks to build a team that benefits from, and matches, the club’s vision to be a sustainable Premiership operation.

Executive president Sir Ian McGeechan, who led the search for the new head coach and is overseeing the club’s move to an integrated, county-wide academy system, said: “Bryan is someone I have known well for many years and I can see that the same drive and passion he had as a player has been carried through into his coaching career.

“Having coached at the highest level with Gloucester and Sale, he was the ideal candidate to help us achieve our goal next season of a top two finish and our long term goal of returning to the Premiership.”