Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Bates: I'm Happy to Be Man in Charge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Bates: I'm Happy to Be Man in Charge

Article excerpt


STEVE Bates has expressed his determination to become the Newcastle Falcons' permanent director of rugby as chairman Dave Thompson insisted it was time to end years of mediocrity at Kingston Park, writes LUKE EDWARDS.

Thompson, who labelled the decision to drop Jonny Wilkinson from the England team a "disgrace" is believed to have pushed former head coach John Fletcher and forwards coach Peter Walton towards the exit door this week before the club announced it had parted company with the pair by mutual consent on Tuesday.

But, while many feel the shock decision was the wrong one, Thompson argued that results and performances simply have not been good enough and that the club had developed a cosy atmosphere which was hindering its progress.

He also pointed to the fact Newcastle had been one of the worst performing sides in the Guinness Premiership over the last nine years to back his claim that radical change is needed.

It is that change which Bates will attempt to implement as director of rugby and the former England scrum half has already admitted it is a job he would like to take on beyond the end of the season.

"I am very surprised because I think we were making some good progress," said Bates who, despite being upset at the treatment of Fletcher and Walton, who brought him back to Kingston Park last summer following a spell in charge of the Border Reivers, knows he has a wonderful chance to impress Thompson over the next two months.

"But I understand a little bit, the board and the chairman have recognised that the results have not been quite what they expected them to be and certainly, in the world of professional sport, that is a very big factor. Generally the players are surprised. Both Pete and John were held in very high regard by everybody here, myself included, and I don't think anybody really anticipated it, but it is the chairman's decision. It's my job to make sure we don't fall apart, and have a good end to the season.

"I am the interim director of rugby until the end of the season but do I want the job after that? …

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