The Gallagher Premiership was rocked yesterday with the sacking of Matt O’Connor from Leicester Tigers.
After only the first game of the season, where they were smashed 40-6 by Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, the Tigers suddenly find themselves with an interim Head Coach.
This decision had been a long time coming, and it is strange that this decision was not made at the end of last season.
Here’s a closer look at seven of the potential candidates and how they would fit in at Welford Road.
1. Dean Richards
Quoted at 14-1 in one list the great bear of English rugby has already been treated badly enough by Leicester once to probably tell them to do one if they approached him. A legend as a player at Welford Road, he went on to coach Tigers to two European Cups and four Premiership titles before being given the boot in 2004.
His crime then was that Leicester were struggling in the league, and that was not a shock considering they had supplied the guts of the England team that won the World Cup a couple of months later.
Richards, who was quite rightly appalled at the decision, asked for his memorabilia to be returned by the club. He has since had success at Harlequins, but that ended in disgrace, but is doing something at Newcastle where he has a decent crop of young players. Richards likes the life-style in the north-east – and a lot of hatchets would have to be buried for him to go back to Leicester.
2. Martin Johnson
Andy Goode, another former Tiger, has already been banging the drum for Johnno to come out of hibernation and ruffle a few feathers at Welford Road. He was king of the rugby jungle when Leicester were kings of rugby and is probably England and Leicester’s greatest player with a pile of trophies, in 362 games for Tigers, and that World Cup win for England. Johnson had an ill-starred time as England manager when he was let down by the players, in the 2011 World Cup, and probably shouldn’t have taken the job but only did out of a sense of duty.
And don’t forget he won England’s last Six Nations title that year before the Eddie Jones revolution hit Twickenham. Johnson knows how to deal with the people upstairs at Welford Road and can’t be a corporate ambassador, and part-time cyclist, forever. He has got too much to give the game and, at 46, still has time on his side. It would be fascinating if he pitched up……. and what a story.