One of the most colourful personalities in Midlands rugby has joined the region’s most colourful club with Phil Maynard beign named rugby director at troubled Coventry.
Maynard, the man who guided Worcester from obscurity and Pertemps Bees to the last four of the Powergen Cup, has agreed a two-year deal to take over at Butts Park and has been charged with bringing stability to an organisation that has lurched from one crisis to the next in recent seasons.
The appointment marks a return to professional rugby for a man who has been out of the sport in the 18 months since he was made redundant after more than four years at Sharmans Cross Road.
Maynard has devoted his time to developing his player agency business and has returned to the club where his coaching career started, Kings Norton. But having acted as an advisor to Cov chairman Andrew Green in the last few months, he could not turn down the chance to work at one of the proudest names in the English game nor reject the opportunity to wake a sleeping giant.
“I always said if the right club came along I would consider coming back and although I have had a couple of offers, this one just seemed right,” Maynard said. “The major incentive was what Coventry is and the challenge of meeting their supporters’ high expectations because they vote with their feet. In that respect it raises the bar for me.
“I have had 18 months off although I have enjoyed my time at Kings Norton I am also looking forward to this. I have coached big clubs in the past and know all about the pressure involved.”
While much of Maynard’s squad building has already been done the former Birmingham back row must assemble his backroom staff, a task that involves retaining the services of forwards coach Dave Addleton and the recruitment of a backs coach.
Addleton stepped in as interim head coach last term following the firing of Murray Henderson and resignation of his replacement Brett Davey.
The former hooker not only steadied the ship but presided over some of the club’s best performances of the season.
“Dave Addleton is the No 1 target to keep,” Maynard continued. “I have already met with him. People like Dave Addleton are Coventry.
“I always rated him highly as a player and have admired from a distance what he did last season in some difficult circumstances.
“They did well last year and the coaching of Dave Addleton was a key factor. Under him the forwards were a formidable unit and all I am going to do is enhance what the side does.
“There is a tendency with some people to come into a rugby club and rip everything out but if something’s not broken it doesn’t need fixing.
“My brief from the chairman is that he wants stability and I have got a couple of years to put together a side that can take the next step and become a top half of the table team. We have got a settled side, most of whom are contracted for two years and I watched them play quite a few times last year and was very impressed with what we had.
“The only enemy we have at the moment is consistency – by their own admission. That’s all we need and it can be worked on. Hopefully the lads will buy into that process.”
For his part Green is aware that Maynard’s appointment may not be welcomed with open arms.
Some Coventry supporters took umbrage to Maynard’s confrontational style during his tenure with Bees and a few remain sore at the cancellation of a game between the two sides because of a frozen pitch.
Green, however, preferred to focus on the fact Maynard presided in the most successful eras in club history at Bees, Worcester and Stourbridge.
“Phil has got an excellent track record and I am confident that what he brings to the club will help us to move forward,” Green said. “He now feels the time is right for him to move back into this role, and we definitely need someone to head up the department and drive it on. There has always been a strong rivalry between Bees and Coventy and I know that in the past Phil has sought to make it as competitive as possible.
“But that is part of the game and we should all give him the benefit of the doubt and welcome him to the club. It would be nice to have him working with us rather than against us.”
Meanwhile Coventry’s National One status is set to be decided by the Rugby Football Union on June 15. The governing body are examining the process through which Green placed the club in administration and their future viability.