Leeds Tykes chief Phil Davies lays a solid foundation to build on

WITH SOLID foundations now safely in place, Leeds Tykes’ Phil Davies is looking forward to the next phase of the club’s rebuild.

Since their relegation from the Championship as financially-stricken Yorkshire Carnegie in April 2020, the Welshman has overseen the return to the Tykes name, a move of headquarters to West Park Leeds, assembling almost an entirely new squad and repairing damaged relationships.

That, of course, has all been to the backdrop of a global pandemic which saw an entire campaign of action wiped out so it was clearly an invidious task.

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However, Davies has steadied the ship and seen progress on and off the field in National One.

STEADYING INFLUENCE: Leeds Tykes director of rugby Phil Davies. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Moreover, having brought ex-England full-back Jon Callard back to the club as head coach in November, he has been able to hand over coaching duties to now fully concentrate on his role as director of rugby.

That is where Davies, who had been commuting from South Wales, will be dedicating his time from hereon in.

Admittedly, Tykes have won just four of their 13 league games so far but improvements have clearly been made; in their one-off game back at Headingley on Saturday, they lost 19-13 against leaders Rosslyn Park having fallen in the away fixture 60-10 in September.

And Davies’ belief that Leeds - who he famously led into Europe and to Powergen Cup glory during his last stint - can build again has only been reaffirmed.

RETURN: Jon Callard has returned to Leeds Tykes as head coach. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images.

“It was a hell of a difficult task,” he admitted, when assessing what the project has been like. “But we’ve created a lot of good partnerships with both universities in Leeds and great partnerships with Ventur, Gregory Property and Caddick Construction.

“All the exec’ club members are stalwarts of the club and new exec’ club members have come in, too; we’ve put some great events on at Headingley.

“We can only spend what we earn and that is the club model now.

“We have a very simple model of contracted players but also providing good coaching, good medical, good monitoring for player well-being and also analysis.

“We have the four key areas of performance covered and we want to provide a team where the best talent around can come and play for a club that is providing an opportunity to play National League rugby but with an ambition to play in the Championship.

“That will take time to build as it has to be done in a sustainable way.”

Attracting new players is something Davies will actively be doing. But he added: “It was always my intention to bring Jon back on board – a local-based coach – and we couldn’t have got anyone better.

“My plan is to remotely speak to the players and coaches through the week, try to re-sign players and recruit players, and I’ll be up every five to six weeks for board meetings.

“I’ll attend some games and, in a nutshell, the foundation is there now to build on and create that sustainable club.

“We’re looking to improve every week. The reality is we are performing well but we have got to start winning more games.

“That’s the challenge but everyone is up for it.”

Davies accepts the club – who aim to do the double over Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday – might have to take a step back before moving forward as they aim to return to the Championship.

But he is encouraged by what he has seen and added: “Three or four Leeds Beckett University alumni players have come in.

“We’ve managed to help them find jobs and they are playing and performing well for the side. “Our model is about players who live or study in Leeds so they can study and play rugby or work and play rugby.

“We have an opportunity to build it in that way.

“There’s talent around and we’re keen to offer them that pathway.”