Video: Redpath steps in to change Carnegie mindset
With nearly 100 international caps and two decades of Premiership coaching experience between them, Bryan Redpath and Sir Ian McGeechan make quite a formidable duo.
Put it this way, if these two great rugby union minds cannot solve the riddle of establishing Yorkshire Carnegie in the Premiership, then perhaps no one can.
For that is the task presenting itself to Redpath, who was yesterday unveiled as the latest man to try to emulate what only Phil Davies has accomplished since Headingley and Roundhay were merged in 1992 to form Leeds.
Redpath certainly has the pedigree to suggest he is equipped to follow Davies’s blueprint and not only take Carnegie into the Premiership but more importantly keep them there.
He has 10 years experience as firstly the main man at Gloucester, and then the second in command at Sale.
That he quit the Manchester club last week to take over the top job at Carnegie says everything about his ambition to once again take the lead role and also his belief that Yorkshire represent a genuine chance of being a Premiership club again.
Redpath, though, was keen to stress yesterday that it is about the whole, not the individual, as he looks to match the ambition set by Carnegie’s new board, who are pumping in between £2m and £4m over the next two to three years to help them realise their Premiership potential.
“This decision was based on what we want to create as a club and how we want to get there,” said Redpath, who won 60 caps for Scotland.
“Personally I felt this was a really good challenge. It’s not a project as such, but a really good opportunity to create a really strong culture, mindset and community feeling.
“We want this to be a top rugby club that wants to be in the top half of the Premiership, and that’s not easy because funding is huge to be in the top six, but that does not mean you cannot strive or compete to get there.”
The stated aim of the new Carnegie is to be in the top two of the Championship come the end of next season.
This, they believe, will give them a strong footing going into the play-offs for the one promotion spot up to the Premiership.
It will also not hurt their standing in the game if ring-fencing is introduced in the summer of 2017 and the top flight is extended to 14 teams, as is being mooted in the game’s corridors of power.
“All we can do is get our own house in order to ensure we’re in the best position to make the most of any opportunity that arises over the next six to eight months,” was McGeechan’s verdict on ring-fencing.
Such politicking is not on Redpath’s radar, at least not yet.
Getting it right on the pitch is his priority, and satisfying that minimum requirement of a top- two finish next season.
To best equip himself to achieve that, he has arrived with five games left in the current season to try to hoist a team that has worked under four head coaches in less than 12 months into the play-off places.
“I believe we’ll be in the top four by the end of April,” said Redpath, whose Carnegie career begins with a trip to bottom-club Plymouth on Saturday, and continues with home games against Jersey, London Scottish and Cornish Pirates, as well as an away game at Worcester.
“We’re eight points off that top four, so there’s no reason why we can’t. That’s the challenge. The reality is how we solve Monday to Friday to get there. The players have got to change some of their habits.
“It’s a challenge to make the top four when we haven’t been consistent enough all season to win four out of five matches, but that’s the consistency I expect of them.
“Talent is one thing. The work ethic, the team spirit and the little sacrifices that maybe haven’t been there in recent times, need to be right as well.
“It would be a great confidence boost for us. If we can sprinkle in some new players in the summer it will enhance that.
“My challenge to Ian and the board is to create the funding and the opportunities for us to keep strengthening the squad in the right manner. We need to keep developing the squad because the Premiership is a tough place, you don’t want to go into it without the preparation, the players and the culture being right.”
The fine detail is important to Redpath, the little things as he calls them, and getting the culture right at Carnegie.
What he found when he took his first training session on Monday was an earnest group determined to do well, one that took him by surprise given the upheavel they have endured in a season that his arrival suggests may not be a write-off just yet.
If together he and McGeechan can pull it off, he will only be too happy to make his mentor proud.
“Sir Ian and I go back a long way, to 1992 when I first trained with Scotland,” he said. “This opportunity to work alongside him, and Carnegie, and try to get them back in the Premiership was too good to turn down.”