Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Ryan relishing top-tier task ahead

Dean Ryan has backed Worcester to "take the challenges" that will be presented after the Warriors reclaimed a place among English rugby's elite.

Worcester edged a dramatic two-legged Championship final 59-58 on aggregate against Bristol, with full-back Chris Pennell's try 25 seconds from time and a Ryan Lamb conversion securing an unlikely 30-30 draw at Sixways.

While Bristol must now pick over the pieces after suffering Championship play-off misery for a fourth time since 2009, Worcester are back in the Aviva Premiership following a 12-month absence.

"This is a rugby club that is just trying to get things right, trying to build things into it slowly and not jump around and not say everything is right in September, because it is no way near," Warriors rugby director Ryan said.

"But we are starting something, and we will just see if we can keep it moving. Coming from the Championship into the Premiership is tough.

"We have taken a very different tack by taking youngsters and given them a chance. How many people here were second or third choices at other rugby clubs?

"How many people are here that nobody has ever picked up? We said we would, we said that we would coach them well, we would support them well and give them opportunities.

"Does that make them Premiership players overnight? No it doesn't, but it gives them real strength in numbers, it gives them a real chance to go and improve.

"We are done until we find another person that we can add to this mix. We can't afford to go back to some of the bad old days of grabbing people who are available now. Guess what? If you are available now, then there must be a reason."

Key forwards Agustin Creevy and Mike Williams are confirmed departures from Sixways this summer, but Waikato Chiefs wing Bryce Heem is heading in the other direction and he will join forces with exciting fellow back-three players like Pennell and Australia international Cooper Vuna.

"We found Cooper Vuna in January - how good has he been? How good is the Premiership going to be because he is in it? We've got Bryce Heem coming in, and with Bryce Heem, Chris Pennell and Cooper Vuna, it looks all right," Ryan added.

"But we need that across lots of areas. We need strength in depth. We need people to come in and take us on.

"Experience counts at the highest table, so we are not pretending that a load of youngsters are going in and having a field day - it's just the way that we have chosen to start what we are trying to do here.

"It is going to be tough, but we are not a bad rugby club to take the challenges that are coming our way."

The Premiership, though, continues to elude Bristol, despite them parading a star-studded squad this season that has contained players like Ryan Jones, Dwayne Peel, Gavin Henson, David Lemi and Matthew Morgan.

They now face another campaign in English rugby's second tier, but it remains to be seen whether there are any significant changes ahead in terms of playing and coaching personnel.

Bristol rugby director Andy Robinson said: "It was going to be a tough summer, whether we were in the Premiership or in the Championship, but we will reflect on what has happened and be the better for it.

"For a whole season to come down to the last minute of the first (play-off) match and the last minute of the second half of the final play-off game is pretty tough.

"That is something that you have to able to deal with. It's sport - that is why we love it, it's why we hate it at times - but it is something that you have to be able to handle.

"You can see that this is a rugby club that is vibrant, that is thriving, and I feel for the chairman Chris Booy, who has been at this club for a long time and he will be hugely disappointed, but we are very confident that Bristol Rugby Club is still moving in the right direction."


From Belfast Telegraph