It goes without saying that the Tiger’s squad will be depleted greatly next season due to the huge list of senior squad members making the choice to leave the club. This is especially worrying for the Leicester side as the names of players continues to grow and features some big name players including British and Irish Lions. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the sudden departure of big name players is an issue within the club whether it be at a coaching level, managerial level or higher up in the Board of Directors.
So far the list of players leaving from the first team squad is at 17 including; Geoff Parling, Scott Hamilton, Julian Salvi, Brad Thorn and the shock departure of Jamie Gibson who will soon become the first player within the professional era to Move from either of the East Midlands Rivals to the other. As well as this the loss of 3 quality players to Exeter Chiefs including The Premierships top try scorer Thomas Waldrom in recent year is another worrying sign. What shocked me with Waldrom’s move to Exeter was his immediate rise in form. He went from having a poor run of games at the end of his Leicester career to finding a new gear at Exeter this can only suggest that the club ethos, training methods or game style of Leicester was at fault.
In my opinion this is the main reason that Richard Cockerill (Leicester’s director of Rugby) has come under serious scrutiny throughout this season, his playing style is considered to be outdated and frankly boring to watch. Many critics believe that the days of scrummaging and set piece is over and instead a free flowing, open style of rugby is starting to take its place-Future of English Rugby . Leicester finished the season only scoring more tries than relegated side London Welsh which for a club with history as rich as the Tigers was a shock to players and fans who frankly did not have much to cheer about at all. Suggesting to all of the teams, players and fans that the new era of English rugby had certainly arrived and if you would not be willing to adapt to the quick and open pace of the game you will be left struggling at the bottom of the table.
However, despite all of the critics and scrutiny Cockerill and the Tigers received look where they ended up again making the top 4 and actually managing to finish above the new champions of England, Saracens. Their ability to grind out a result and keep collecting points in the second half of the season was phenomenal, shocking many of the critics who had almost written the Tigers off. I’m sure that any rugby fan would agree watching the likes of Bath perform well rehearsed intricate moves in midfield is a joy to watch and brings a new form of skill and excitement to the game, but the age of scrummaging, driving mauls and big forwards carrying hard is certainly not over and still brings huge excitement to the game. I am glad Cockerill and the Tigers managed to salvage their season at the time they did to prove to fans around the country that the old elements of the game still exist and are still very effective if performed right.
I also support the Tigers in extending Cockerill’s contract because no matter how the modern era of rugby is developing their will always be a space for the age old “Dark Arts” of the forwards and I hope that this aspect of the game does not disappear at all, especially not any time soon! Also I believe that a man as successful as Richard Cockerill should be trusted to provide results the way he knows how and no matter what critics may say his methods always has been and continue to work and be a success, because to any club a top 3 finish and qualification for the European Champions cup will always be considered a good season.