St Joseph’s vacancy offers fresh “opportunity” for rugby side

THE success at St Joseph’s College – including last year’s festival triumph – has made the vacant director of rugby position a plum position.

The departure of the much-loved Graham Richards means the side go into this weekend’s festival under the temporary guidance of former Welsh schoolboy player Robyn James.

Then all the focus will be on a full-time replacement for Richards with the college receiving more than 30 applicants – much to the delight of director of sport Mark Patterson.

“The great testimony to Graham is the amount of applicants we have received for the post and also the overall standard,” Patterson said.

“We have been blown away by both the number and the quality.”

Under Richards’ stewardship, St Joseph’s won the National Schools Rugby Festival for the first time in 15 years and then reached the quarter-finals of the Daily Mail RBS Cup.

Patterson admitted the coach’s departure had initially left a hole, but that a new replacement offers new opportunities.

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He said: “There was a wake-like feel for a couple of weeks after Graham left, particular among the boys. But his departure offers us a chance to bring a different style and change the feel around the side.

“Graham had a special relationship with the boys and myself and we all enjoyed four fantastic years. He helped put St Joseph’s back on the map, probably more than it has ever been. We have quickly tried to turn it around into an opportunity rather than bad news.”

And it would be a massive surprise if the new class of St Joseph’s weren’t cheered on by their former coach this weekend,

Patterson explained: “Graham hasn’t missed a match, home or away, since he stepped down. He might be a little less vocal now but he is still there in case the boys need to talk to him.”

And Gabriel Carroll, the side’s captain, added: “With his calibre and knowledge, Graham was a role model for anyone who came under his coaching.

“If we were able to win the festival again, a lot of it would be down to his hard work over the last few years and I would be the first to shake his hand and say thank you.”