Why did Mike Ruddock resign? Players who didn’t judge him as coach role ‘became a problem’

It was one of the largest bombings in Welsh rugby history.

And there is a danger that we are already doing it a disservice.

Less than a year after helping Wales win their first Grand Slam in 27 years, head coach Mike Ruddock left his role at the mid-Six Nations, under the most dire circumstances.

Suddenly all hope and optimism in the Ruddock-led Wells was destroyed and all that was left was genocide.

Wales had recovered from a first-round defeat to England to defeat Scotland in Cardiff, but 48 hours later, Ruddock was gone.

The Welsh rugby public was left in complete shock, turning a blind eye to the news.

There were claims that senior players had forced Ruddock’s dismissal. Welsh rugby went into recession.

Players involved at the time have recounted the events of Slammed, a documentary on BBC Wales, the final episode of which airs tonight at 9:00.

“I came to training one day and the nugget [Martyn Williams] It was like: ‘The mic is gone,'” prop Adam Jones said.

“It was bizarre. I said: ‘Ruddock?’ And he said: ‘Yes, he is gone’.”

Shane Williams said: “The reaction is how the Welsh react, isn’t it?

“It’s all on top, it’s extreme: ‘How can you win a Grand Slam and then the coach walks in? What did it do? What has Alfie done to oust him?’

“We were like: ‘Wait a minute, let’s not blame the players’.”

Claims of player power bringing the end of Ruddock began to take hold.

“Do some players think Mike wasn’t the best coach in the world? Probably, yes,” Jones said.

“There will be disagreements and sometimes you think it’s in the form of a s*** drill or a s*** trick and you disagree.

“Wouldn’t it be like Welsh players or the public blow something up if a coach disagrees.

“It’s a Welsh thing to do.

“But none of them were strong enough to try to sack Mike by stabbing him in the back.

“He wouldn’t have done that.”

In his book, Bomb, Jones says: “Mike’s passing was a huge blow to the rugby public. It was not me. Throughout his tenure there was a background of constant sarcasm.

“Some senior players who were bound by the previous regime constantly questioned Mike’s methods, undermined his authority and made things awkward.”

Jones revealed that he was aware of ‘secret’ meetings between senior players in the WRU hierarchy at a hotel just outside Cardiff.

“The main opponents were Gareth Thomas, Martin Williams, Stephen Jones and Brent Cockbain,” Jones wrote. “I’m not saying these guys were particularly disruptive or manipulative, but it was clear that they were still thrilled to have Hansen and Johnson. I’m pretty sure they wanted Mike as a bloke. I liked him, but they didn’t rate him as a coach.

“The cracks widened, and those foundations eventually began to crumble.”

In Slammed, Thomas suggested that people who obtained information, or observed things, from outside the environment might have misinterpreted its gravity.

He insists that disagreement is healthy in that environment.

Thomas said, “The reality of the environment we were in is always in conflict.”

“Mike had gotten into an environment where everyone would respectfully question someone else.

“People who haven’t been in that environment before, or perhaps journalists who witnessed the confrontation, might think: ‘Oh my god, Alfie and Mike had a crossword, Alfie and Shane had a crossword – oh, this Not right in the camp’.

“I guess it’s not right in the camp if you don’t have crosswords.”

But in his book, Alfie, Thomas suggested that players did not respect Ruddock in the same way they respected their Kiwi predecessor Steve Hansen.

He wrote: “Give credit to Mike for not coming in and introducing change for the sake of change, but it was almost as if there was little for him anyway.”

And Thomas went on to elaborate on how players had developed bad habits off the field, slipping standards.

“And, yes, in my opinion, Mike’s role had become a problem that would eventually need to be addressed if nothing changed,” Thomas wrote.

The captain insisted that he take up the problems with Ruddock himself and wanted the head coach to succeed.

But he also pointed to one instance when players were bracing themselves to ignore an order not to go on a night out after the Six Nations lost at Twickenham in their 2006 start.

“Discipline was breaking because it was allowed to break,” he said. “If Steve Hansen had called that we didn’t have to go out, it would have been accepted without a grumble.

“Mike’s authority was being challenged, which made me wonder if he had implemented it properly in the first place.”

During a meeting between Thomas, Stephen Jones, Martin Williams, Brent Cockbain and WRU chief Steve Lewis in the week before Ruddock’s shock exit, Thomas raised concerns over Ruddock.

This was not the main reason the meeting was held, Thomas said, but he told Lewis that he did not think Ruddock was taking on enough responsibility for the running of the team, given that he was the head coach.

Lewis is said to have told the players that any issues between the players and Ruddock needed to be resolved and that the coach would give his full support.

A few days later, Ruddock was gone.

Alun Carter, one of Ruddock’s analysts at the time, previously said that Ruddock felt undervalued. In his book, Seeing Raid: 12 Tumultuous Years in Welsh Rugby, he speaks of “visible signs of a power division” within Welsh management, with assistant Scott Johnson maintaining very close ties with the players.

He claims that players began to ignore Ruddock’s instructions, with the coach eventually becoming tired of divisions in the camp and the lack of support from key figures. He says that’s when he decided to quit.

With the campaign in turmoil, Thomas was asked to appear on the BBC’s Scrum v Rugby programme.

It was the kind of move that would never be sanctioned in this day and age but times were different and the Welsh rugby captain, who was being accused of getting rid of his coach, wanted to come out.

“You don’t see Scrum V as a player if they say something you don’t want to hear, but that was on the record,” Thomas’ teammate Tom Shanklin smiled.

“Everyone was tuning into that. It was massive. After the resignation of the Wales captain, the head coach, continues [the show] On your own. ,

Thomas said: “I represented a group of players. Someone else could have gone there but I was the captain.

“So if I’m going to lead the players and I’m going to lift the trophy, if I’m going to have all the great privileges that come with being captain, when the s*** fan hits, you’ You have to be at the fore too.”

Powderkeg TV came on. Thomas entered into a blazing argument with the Welsh International, turned journalist, commentator Eddie Butler as he deeply denied the reason for Ruddock’s departure.

You can read the inside story of that Scrum V show here.

After filming, Thomas suffered a mini-stroke and was hospitalized and was seen as Ruddock’s assistant, with Scott Johnson taking over and defeating Ireland and France sandwiching a draw against Italy.

In the BBC documentary, the man at its heart, Ruddock, gives his reason for leaving because he did not feel he had the support of Welsh rugby union.

Despite winning the 2005 Grand Slam, a contract was still not agreed upon and he felt his position was untenable.

“I was extremely disappointed,” said Ruddock, speaking on Slammed.

Obviously, I am not the first rugby coach to leave the middle of the season and I will not be the last either.

“When I took the job at Wells, it all happened so quickly that I never agreed to sign a contract.

“After the Six Nations, I shook hands with the Welsh Rugby Union on a deal to move forward. Seven or eight months later, we still hadn’t given the details.

“The contract negotiations had broken down and I was going to my other Six Nations without a contract.

“Ask any coach in the world if that’s a particularly comfortable place. It’s not a comfortable place to be.

“It just made me think that my future lies elsewhere.”

Gareth Jenkins was hastily appointed as Ruddock’s permanent successor, but his term expired and never really got off the ground.

He was dismissed from his job for 18 months after the disastrous 2007 World Cup to make way for Warren Gatland.

“We were no longer talking about Grand Slams, we were talking about politics in Welsh rugby again,” back-rover Ryan Jones said of the period.

“We went from being united around rugby to being polarized. You were either in the players’ ranks or the coaches’ ranks.

“It was a heartbreaking thing to be a part of.”

* Episode 3 of Slammed will air on BBC One Wales on Wednesday, 5 January at 9 pm.

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