Dai Young says ‘disappointment’ doesn’t begin to sum up the emotions following a heavy final day defeat to Benetton Rugby on Friday evening.
The clincial Italians scored 10 tries and ran away with a 69-21 win following a ruthless display in Treviso, leapfrogging Cardiff in the United Rugby Championship table in the process.
The defeat brings an end to a disjointed and disrupted season for the Blue and Blacks, who sit in 14th in the Championship table.
And the director of rugby insists his side need to bring the remember these emotions when they return for pre-season in five weeks time.
Young said: “Disappointment isn’t a strong enough word. We looked like a team that are running on empty, physically and mentally.
“We were slow in everything we did tonight, in speed and thought, and physically we weren’t at the races.
“We made too many mistakes in the first 10 to 15 minutes, giving them field position. Once they got their noses in front, it never looked like we’d turn it around.
“We rallied a little bit in the second half but got cut too easy, went through the middle and around us far too easy.
“We’ve got to give them credit because they played well tonight but as I told the players - if that doesn’t hurt us then we don’t want to be here next year, it’s as simple as that.
“Unfortunately we’ve now got a long wait until we can put things right.
“The players are hugely disappointed, like all of us, but I also feel for the coaches. They’ve put a lot of work in and we haven’t coached them to go out and play like that.
“They’re really hurting, and the players are really hurting because they’ve let themselves, the jersey and supporters down.
“It’s a really quiet changing room, but how can you tell if they’re really hurting? We’ll find that out next season when they come out and they need to use that as fuel to get better.”
Cardiff’s starting outside backs had an average age of 21 years old heading into the fixture, with full back Cameron Winnett making his URC debut in Italy.
However, following a run of 13 consecutive fixtures, Young admits his side looked physically and mentally drained as the curtain was drawn on the 2021/22 campaign.
He added: “We had a lot of injuries going into the game tonight, a lot of youngsters playing, but that was the best we could put out and it wasn’t good enough for the jersey,”
“It’s really disappointing for everyone concerned, it wasn’t good enough but we need to review the season. It’s been a hugely difficult season for everyone, totally disjointed. That was our 13th game on the bounce and it looked like one too far for us.
“Fatigue makes a coward of us all, and they’ve been really tired all week. I don’t think they’ve experienced playing 13 on the bounce for a long, long time. Before that they had big periods of not playing and it was certainly a season of extremes.
“We’ve also had extreme performances. We’ve had really good performances and really poor ones. Tonight lies up there with the really poor, but there’s not a lot that we can do about it now.
“It’s hugely disappointing, wasn’t good enough and we have to come out better next year. Unfortunately we’ve got to wear it for a couple of months and can’t put it right until next September.
“We had a backline with an average age of 21. It was great to see them and it’s a glimpse of what’s to come.
“They’ll learn from that, and it’s a big ask to chuck them in against a quality team like that.
“They will hopefully learn from the experience. It wasn’t a pleasant one but you learn from all sort of experiences.
“Hopefully when we are back in the season we continue to see these youngsters playing. But we are better when we drip them in with the senior players rather than putting them all in at the time.”