After 24 rounds of Gallagher Premiership rugby, the Worcester Warriors club is now scheduled to play their final game of the 2021/22 season. However, as we all know by now – and with all thanks to a certain club from London – that final fixture at home to Bath Rugby will not take place until next month.
With that in mind, that doesn’t mean everything will come to a standstill. In fact, it will probably be the busiest month of the season so far for the club. Well, for those who are not part of the playing squad that is but the hard work continues on!
Having already announced SEVEN new signings ahead of the 2022/23 season, attention will now focus on what has been the main topic of conversation for a while now…
Who is staying/leaving at the Worcester Warriors club beyond this season?
With Niall Annett heading to Bath, Ethan Waller heading to Northampton and Sione Vailanu (see main photo) moving across the border to URC side Glasgow Warriors, that accounts for three of what was initially thought to be around 25 players who are out of contract at the end of the current season which now leaves us with 23 players (approximately), of which we have no idea of who is staying and who isn’t.
The last departure to be announced was Sione heading to Glasgow back in March but, ever since then, there’s been no other exits announced. Why? Well, it’s certainly not because those who are leaving don’t already know themselves. Steve Diamond has already stated that the players found out their fates the week of the Newcastle game on April 2nd. The simple reason as to why ‘only signings’ have been announced since the Sione’s departure is because, after the Saracens game on Saturday, the Warriors will now have a four-week (in total) break until their final league game of the season at home to Bath.
They do of course have the Premiership Rugby Cup final in the second week which will, in a not too simplistic way, break the four-week window up ‘just a little’.
Finals aside, it’s thought that this break (which is ridiculously long by the way) will be used for things including exit interviews as well as some fitness training. It will provide Steve Diamond the first real opportunity since his arrival to sit down with the players who are leaving the club and have an ‘all cards on the table’ conversation with some home truths sure to be said.
Topics are expected to reveal reasons as to why they are leaving, what their experience at the club has been like, and what they can do to learn from any negative experiences they may or may not of had – including their time as a professional player in general. Call it an opportunity to learn for future reference of sorts.
Why are exit interviews important? Well, Dimes touched on this last week and simply said that “it was an opportunity for both parties player and himself to learn and also for those who are leaving to speak freely as people are usually far more honest when they are leaving than when they are staying”.
It’s unknown who those interviews will be held with but it’s to the understanding of many that two players have already found new clubs once, while another two are yet to find a club but will leave nonetheless. For the two who have new clubs secured, one will be joining a Premiership club while the other a Championship club.
With those four players heading for the exit at Sixways, the Worcester Warriors club is still left with 19 players who are out of contract.
Who will follow and who will stay is still, as stated, an unknown but one thing is for sure, it’s easier to name those under contract and staying rather than not and leaving!
Hopefully, by the end of next week and into the following week, it will all start to take shape as Dimes has said the period between Saracens and Bath will be used to hold the exit interviews, and then the necessary announcements will follow.
Last Word on Rugby are told an update on the squad for next year including those leaving is likely expected soon. How soon? Most likely from next week.
Short rest ahead of biggest day of Warriors 2021/22 calendar
All staff will take this short week off and will return at the start of next week as the club prepares for their first-ever top-flight Premiership Rugby Cup final game against London Irish. Driven by men like Academy coach Jonny Goodridge, it will be a huge date for many Warriors men; staying, or going.
🏆 Tickets are now on sale for the #PremRugbyCup final.
🔹 4 tickets for the price of 3
🔸 Book in blocks N121 and N122
🔹 Return coach travel for £19 and £21#COYW
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) May 1, 2022
A big day for the playing group after a long and prolonged effort to get to this point. And there support base will be happy to be there with them.
Bus trip to the capital for a date with the Irish for some celebrated silverware
On the downside of what should be a huge day for all associated with the club, is that it’s a midweek fixture. That said, three of the coaches that are being scheduled by the club (alongside the supporter’s trust) have already sold out. This is an incredible effort given the timing of the final and it’s hoped that there will be a few more sold out yet.
— 💙💛🏉W R S C🏉 💙💛 (@WRSC2) May 3, 2022
Tickets for the game are now on sale. Supporters are being encouraged to buy tickets for the North Stand – sections N121 & N122.
What will happen during the two weeks after the final?
While the Premiership Rugby Cup is the focus on the pitch, off the field the Worcester Warriors club organization continues with as mentioned exit interviews. Seen by some as a formality, it can also give intuitive intelligence on how players perceive both staff and systems. So from the operational side, it is critical work.
The players themselves will all be ‘back on the tools’ after a few days off and Dimes has said they will then see where they are at, as they prepare for the final game of what has been a rollercoaster of a season. That will be at Sixways, against the beleaguered Bath. Yet the club will not just be playing out time, with Sixways is set to join in the bank holiday jubilee celebrations with lots of activities and off the field.
Returning focus back to the playing squad, the two-week period after the final will be used to get the players conditioned to peak. And to use Dimes’ words “fit as a butcher’s dog”. They will also prepare for the Bath as normal in the week leading up to that game on June 4. All players will be involved in all sessions regardless of whether they are leaving or not.
Players will also take time to acknowledge fans’ support after the game with a lap of honour and it will be the final chance to say goodbye to the departing squad members.
Meanwhile, players that are staying will be informed of their set goals ahead of preseason return date of July 8. The “honeymoon period is coming to an end and hard graft is upon them [when they return for 2022/23]” said Steve Diamond, when he spoke last week. Concluding the calendar with or without silverware from the Prem Cup match, all involved will know that they have put in 110% and while some will have International matches to play, others will take a short break and enjoy time with family and some respite for the rigors of professional rugby union.
When the players do return on July 8th for preseason training, there will also be two new coaches awaiting them.
Still to be announced coaching group placings create rumours for 2022/23
They are yet to be named but former England international forward Phil Greening has been mentioned and seen at Sixways and former Harlequin, now defence coach at Newcastle Falcons – Nick Easter has also been mentioned.
Easter is set to leave Newcastle at the end of the current season while Greening has been without a job since he left his role as Scotland 7s head coach and programme manager in 2013. LWOR is told that an update on the coaching front is likely soon, much like it is with those who are signing new contracts and those who are leaving.
Warriors may have just one game ahead of their final league game of the season but that’s not to say everything has or will come to a standstill. Well, after this short well-earned break anyway.
The hard work and preparation for next season continues both on and off the field.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images