Mefin Davies ready to start new chapter at Swansea RFC
MEFIN Davies insists a doctorate in history isn't required to appreciate the pedigree of the club he will be coaching in the coming season.
"Everyone knows what Swansea RFC have brought to rugby over the years," said the Whites' new head coach. "They have a great history and have had great players.
"Obviously we are in a different structure now, with the advent of regions, but Swansea still want to do well and everybody connected to the club is committed to making that happen."
It is the first serious step into coaching for Davies, the hooker who seems to have been around forever, with Carmarthen Quins his first port of call in the 1990s, the prelude to spells at Dunvant, Neath, Pontypridd, Celtic Warriors, Gloucester, Leicester Tigers and the Ospreys. There were also 39 caps with Wales.
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Along the way, the 39-year-old has worked with a veritable Who's Who of coaches, including Dean Ryan, Heyneke Meyer, Mike Ruddock, Lyn Jones, Steve Hansen, Scott Johnson, Gareth Jenkins, Richard Cockerill, Lynn Howells and Sean Holley.
For sure, it would be hard not to learn off that lot. Meyer coaches South Africa these days, while Hansen is in charge of New Zealand. Jones is winning trophies at London Welsh, while Cockerill continues to fight the fight at Leicester.
"I have worked under some excellent people, with hugely different styles, and you do pick up things as you go along," said Davies.
"Dean Ryan was outstanding at Gloucester, someone who really knew the score technically. He was a hard task master, which not everyone liked, but I enjoyed being challenged because that's how you improve as a player.
"Really, Dean is wasted these days. He's a pundit on Sky Sports and is really good at what he does, but to have someone with his knowledge and ability not actually working at the sharp end is a loss to the game.
"He was as impressive as anyone I've worked with, but in terms of creativity and knowing about the game Lyn Jones is up there as well. He had fantastic ideas and it isn't a coincidence that he is still winning trophies.
"You learn different things from different coaches. Lynn Howells was good on values, Cockerill was a heart-and-soul coach, someone who was big on passion and tried to instil it in his players, while someone else who impressed me was Carl Hogg at Gloucester.
"It definitely hasn't done me any harm to have played under so many coaches."
Davies will be in the development game next term, helping to bring on young players at the Ospreys and also seeking to advance the progress of the Whites and, in particular, the bright young things on their books.
At St Helen's, the aim will be to ensure the conveyor belt of talent at the club — which has seen Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar, Richard Hibbard, Mathew Morgan, Hanno Dirksen, Ben Lewis, brother Sam, Eli Walker and Tom Prydie come through in recent years — continues to function.
"I am looking forward to the season starting," said Davies.
"I have fond memories of facing Swansea as a player. In those days they were the best, with the likes of Robert Jones playing for them. Certainly, when I played for Dunvant it meant a big deal for us to take them on.
"We are in a different era now but you should never forget the past.
"The history of great clubs like Swansea, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Aberavon and Neath should always be valued and passed down to young players because it will encourage them to strive harder for the shirt.
"So, for me, it's a big honour to coach Swansea.
"It's about linking with the Ospreys and developing ties with local clubs to ensure talent rises to the top. It will be a challenge, but one I'm going to enjoy."