MANY sporting professionals may be enjoying their summer holidays right now, but Bryan Redpath has been back at his desk and on the training field for nearly two weeks as he plots Yorkshire Carnegie’s rise into the top flight of English rugby.
The former Scotland scrum-half was persuaded to join the club back in March as head coach from his then role at Sale Sharks by former Scotland coach Ian McGeechan.
‘Vern Cotter has shown he is not scared to make big calls’
And the 43-year-old, who earned 60 caps for his country during his playing days, had instant success with the team enjoying a good end to the 2014/15 campaign in the Greene King IPA English Championship.
The late run was not good enough to see them reach the end-of-season play-offs, though, and that is certainly Redpath’s aim for next season.
“I think anyone who watched the play-off final between Worcester Warriors and Bristol could see that those sides were far and away the best sides in the division – next year we have to try and bridge that gap,” the Borderer said.
“The people here at Yorkshire Carnegie are very ambitious and they have given me a bit of money to go and strengthen the squad and it has been a busy few weeks.
“What the end of last season showed me is that we already have talented players at the club and hopefully with the others I have brought in they will come together to form a side that can challenge for the top four and, ultimately, a place in the Premiership.
“In any dressing room you need everyone buying into what you are trying to do and what I have seen at the tail end of last season and in these early days of pre-season is a unity and a desire which should make my job that bit easier.”
Certainly former England cap Chris Jones is happy with his new boss. He said: “It was very impressive the way he came in last season for the final five games of the season and made an immediate impact.
“He made things clear, simple and concise and the lads could get on with doing their job.”
Redpath has now been involved in the professional coaching game since 2009.
From talking to him during previous stints at Gloucester and Sale and now in his new role in Yorkshire you get the feeling that he is one of those coaches who immerses himself 24/7 in the job – but even he has taken some time out to get excited about the upcoming World Cup.
Redpath, who skippered Scotland on occasion, is no stranger to the excitement surrounding the build-up to the big event, having played in 1995, 1999 and 2003.
One position where there is real competition for places in the Scotland set-up is at Redpath’s old scrum-half spot.
Current captain Greig Laidlaw, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Henry Pyrgos and Chris Cusiter are all queuing up to wear the No.9 jersey against Japan in the Pool B opener on 23 September.
“They are all good players while in the backline outside of them there are also some cracking young players and competition can only be good for any squad because the guys push each other on every day in training to get that starting jersey,” Redpath said. “Of course Scotland will have been disappointed not to win any game during the Six Nations, but there were glimpses of the type of side that [Scotland head coach] Vern Cotter is trying to build.
“At this stage as a player you just want to be in the extended squad and then the real hard work starts to nail down your place for the tournament.
“I think overall Cotter has shown that he is not scared to make big calls and the players he seems to be turning to seem to be responding to the things that he wants them to do.
“There is still a long way to go before the tournament starts and in the next few months the squad will begin to mould together. Cotter seems to know his own mind and one thing that is key in any coaching job is that you have all the players backing what you do and buying into your ethos.”
Meanwhile, Redpath was delighted to see his old international team-mate Gregor Townsend lead Glagow Warriors to the Guinness Pro12 title last month.
And he has seen a change in Townsend since he was on the coaching staff of the national team between 2009 and 2012.
“I remember when Gregor was involved with Scotland he himself admitted that at times he was a bit naive as a coach, but since he has been given the head coach role at Glasgow he has really flourished.
“He seems to have become more confident himself and he has certainly managed to bring the best out of his players.”