After the 2020/21 campaign concluded with a bonus point win over Zebre on Saturday, Dai Young already has his eyes set on next season and is determined to put his own stamp on the Cardiff team.
Young returned to Cardiff Arms Park on an interim basis in January, after nine years at Wasps, but has since committed his future to the club with a new contract.
The former Cardiff, Wales and Lions prop is excited for his first full season back in charge and hopes to welcome the Arms Park supporters back to the terraces.
“All players and staff get five weeks off, so they’ll have three weeks of doing nothing because we’ve encouraged them to take a break,” explained the director of rugby.
“Then they’ll have two weeks of transition programmes to do at home to ensure that when they come back they don’t return on the back of doing nothing.
“I’m really looking forward to next season. I obviously came in late this season, and there wasn’t much opportunities to change things I wanted to change.
“The season was fragmented so I’ve tinkered with it a little bit and changed a few things, but I’d like to think from next season that I can make it my environment.
“I hope this season does go down in the history books because I hope it doesn’t get repeated. It’s been terrible for everyone, but we’ve been lucky to continue with a job that we all enjoy.
“We’re much more fortunate than a lot of people, but it’s been tough. It’s been tough on the players with the restrictions and everything that goes with getting the team out each week.
“The organisation has been pretty tough as well, because on occasions we didn’t know who we’d play in three weeks time. But we’ll put it down as experience, and we’ve certainly learned to handle the unexpected.
“We’re looking forward to next season after a good break, we’ll put hard work in over the summer and then hopefully we can come in next season as a better team.
‘The big thing is the crowd. We all know that, if it was ever doubted, it’s been confirmed how much the crowd add to the game.
“They add to the atmosphere, add to the excitement and they make every game a spectacle and occasion.
“None of can wait to welcome the crowd back here, and that’s true right across rugby.”
Despite first half tries from Gwilym Bradley, James Botham and Dan Fish, Cardiff survived a scare against the Italians, who threatened a come-back in the early stages of the second half.
However, a penalty try and a Harri Millard score eventually saw the hosts coming away with maximum points against 14-men Zebre.
Young says one of his side’s main work-ons ahead of next season is their ability to perform throughout the 80 minutes in matches.
“It’s not just been in the Rainbow Cup, but ever since I’ve been here we haven’t been able to put in an 80 minute performance together,” added the director of rugby.
“That’s something we need to work on going into next season. Our execution and concentration levels aren’t as good as we’d like them to be, and fitness levels need to improve, as does game understanding.
“So there are quite a few things to work on to get near that 80 minute performance.
“It was a messy game. I think before the game you probably would’ve settled for that score but the game was messy, it was very stop-start and lacked any momentum.
“There were some good things from us and some not so good things from us. It wasn’t the performance that we wanted but it was the result we wanted and a scoreline that we would’ve taken before the game.
“But overall it’s pretty disappointing because the game lacked momentum with the Captain’s Challenges and a lot of interventions from the TMO. It broke the momentum of the game.
“It’s only a personal opinion, I don’t see what it’s bringing to the game. It’s slowing the game down and becomes very tit-for-tat.
“It’s not something I’m in favour of, but I may be a lone voice in that, I don’t know. It’s not for me anyway.”