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Who’s Next? Cardiff Rugby Next Director of Rugby

Rob Howley and Matt Sherratt are the early main candidates to take over from Dai Young at Cardiff Rugby.

Sherratt – currently one of only two senior coaches left at the Arms Park following a raft of departures – is the current favourite at 6/4 with DragonBet.

But Howley’s odds could close from 9/4 if the former Wales assistant coach gives an indication he is ready to end his stint in Canada, where he is assistant coach with the national team who failed to make the World Cup this autumn in France.

Other figures in the running are the current Wales U20 caretaker coach Mark Jones (5/1), former Wales backs coach Stephen Jones (6/1) – an ex-teammate of Mark Jones’s with Wales and Llanelli – and former Cardiff prop Gethin Jenkins (5/1), who left the Wales set-up along with Stephen Jones at the end of the Wayne Pivac era.

Pivac himself is rated as a 12/1 shot to pick up his career at the Arms Park after his Wales  stint.

Other more left field candidates given a price are former Sale and Worcester Warriors chief, Steve Diamond (25/1) and South African World Cup-winning coach Jake White (25/1).

Young parted ways with Cardiff on Monday, midway through his second stint as director of rugby following allegations of bullying against him that he categorically denied and were found to be insufficiently supported by evidence.

He was suspended 95 days ago and but then agreed to leave the club he led to the URC Welsh Shield for the first time last season.

“As has been widely reported in the media, on 20 April 2023, Dai Young was suspended from his role as Director of Rugby by Cardiff Rugby following allegations of bullying, which he categorically denied,” read a Cardiff Rugby statement.

“Given the nature of these allegations and mindful of its duty of care to all employees, Cardiff Rugby commissioned a barrister to carry out an independent investigation. Following a thorough process, the barrister concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations and that no further action should be taken in relation to them.

“Unfortunately, this process has caused strain on the working relationship between Cardiff Rugby and Dai Young. In the circumstances, regrettably, it has been mutually agreed by the parties to terminate Dai’s employment contract in accordance with terms within that allow for early termination.

“Work will now begin to appoint a successor and coaching team at the Arms Park with 14 weeks still remaining until the 2023-24 season kicks off.”

Young, therefore, leaves the club he served with distinction as both player and coach over 18 years perhaps with a heavy heart, but with his considerable reputation very much intact.

He will also leave with an estimated £300,000+ compensation pay out from a club that lost £3.8m in the past two financial years.

Now, the search begins for chairman Alan Jones and chief executive Richard Holland to find not only a new director of rugby, but also a new defence coach, forwards coach and scrum coach following the departures of Richard Hodges, Duane Goodfield and T Rhys Thomas.

Former Wales and British & Irish Lions backs coach Howley spent six years as a player at Cardiff RFC before working under Young as one of his coaching assistants for three further years.

He then went on to become Warren Gatland’s right hand man for both Wales and the Lions before being forced to leave the 2019 World Cup campaign before a ball had been kicked due to a breach of sports betting rules.

He was later banned for 18 months, with nine suspended, after being found guilty of placing 363 bets on rugby union, covering 1,163 matches in total.

He has since returned to coaching with the Toronto Arrows as a consultant, and with the Canadian national team.

Gatland was keen to lure Howley back into his backroom staff when he returned to take over the Welsh side earlier this year, but the WRU blocked his return, deeming it too soon for him to be fully rehabilitated after what happened in Japan four years ago.

Mark Jones is another leading light on the market, while one of the two coaches remaining at the region, Sherratt is the most senior candidate from within.

Whoever takes over will become the sixth person to lead the coaching team since Young left the first time in 2011.

Four of them didn’t see out their contracts and the other turned down a contract extension.

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