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BBC Wales Raise your Game - Interview with David Young

14th October 2005

BBC Wales has enlisted Colin Jackson to find out what makes sports stars tick, how they cope with success and disappointment and discovers exactly how hard they train and prepare.

Interview with David Young, Blues Director of Coaching by Colin Jackson. Extract taken from

The head coach of the Cardiff Blues says you can only do your best, and if you make a mistake, learn from it.

Colin Jackson: How difficult is it to be the man to take the flak?

Dai Young: Well I think when you put yourself in the position of head coach in any organisation you've got to realise that you'll take the flak but it's important not to take it too personally; it's probably aimed at the job rather than the individual. It's also important that we've all got people we can talk to. I think I'm lucky - I've got good, supportive people behind me, and obviously you can talk to them in the difficult times as well as the good.

CJ: Do you ever look at some of the players and think, 'You really could have done that better - I know you could have'?

DY: I think as a coach you've got to get to know everybody's temperament and personality. There are certain players who respond to kicking them up the backside, and there are certain players who respond better to putting an arm around them. It depends how you put things across. Constructive criticism is OK, and the players we've got now know the game and they respond to constructive criticism, but anything over and above that, they tend to resent a little bit and back away from it.

Nobody likes being criticised but we're not all going to do everything right. You've got to give 100% effort, and I don't think anyone can ask anything more. Willingness to learn is important. As long as you're prepared to learn by your mistakes, it's a huge step forward and that's what we've got here. Give me tryers every time - if you've got people who are going to give everything and support everything you do, I think you're halfway there. Attitude, determination and commitment are things that I look for. Skill level is important, but if you haven't got those three things, it doesn't count for anything really.

CJ: What's Cardiff doing actively to involve other parts of Wales, to get the talent into Cardiff?

DY: Well, we've got a big region now, which goes from Builth Wells, past the Capital, so we've got a big area to try and look after. There certainly is a pathway available for any youngster who wants to look at professional rugby long-term down the track. We've got a tremendous academy and we've got district sides as well. It's a tiered system so for anybody who wants to play rugby as a profession the opportunity is there - bearing in mind, though, we're not all going to be professionals. But if you enjoy rugby, you can enjoy it at all levels - I think that's important. The advice I always give is to give it your best shot, and if you become a professional - great, but if you don't, still enjoy the game, because there are huge benefits to playing all sports. It's important that you go out to meet and spend time with people, and there's no better way than sport to do all that.

CJ: When you first started off playing the game of rugby, did you ever imagine you'd end up being a coach?

DY: If you ask my parents, I was always picking teams from a young age, but it might have been soccer teams at the time! I love the sport. It's always something I wanted to do and I can't see myself out of the sport, but if it wasn't rugby I'd have to find another sport. It has been my life from when I was a very young kid. The important thing to me is that I enjoy my job, and you can't get any better than that.

CJ: What do you think rugby has given you?

DY: It's given me huge enjoyment, huge satisfaction. I've been lucky enough to have a good lifestyle out of it - I think that's important as a professional. I've had some good contracts but you've got to work for everything, nobody gives you something for nothing. Any sportsman at the top has had to work for it, nobody hands titles, medals or silverware. I think that it's important that you've got to work for everything you get, and, hopefully, the more work you put in, you'll get your just rewards.

CJ: Looking around the coaches in the sport of rugby - who's the most inspirational for you?

DY: I've been lucky to play under a lot of good coaches like Graham Henry. I was part of the Welsh set-up when Graham was there, and I thought he was really influential in bringing Wales forward. I described him as having that 'Ready- Brek glow' ! When he walked into the room he just glowed with respect and he was awesome. Others like that are Ian McGeechan from Lions fame, Steve Hanson, and you've got to look at Mike Ruddock and, what he has done with the Welsh set-up. In regional rugby we all look up to Gareth Jenkins from Llanelli as well as he's been there for an age. I've only been here for 3 years, so you've got to respect somebody who's been at this job for 14 years because it's tough! The media spotlight is huge and there's going to be big pressure, but, as I say, we're doing a job we love, it's something we've got be thankful for.

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