New division, new coach, new broom, new captain. It’s all change at Sixways for the season they hoped they’d never have.
Not in Cecil Duckworth’s worst nightmares did a year outside the top flight present itself something that must be tried.
Yet here we are, two days before the new Championship campaign begins and a club that has always prided itself on being upwardly mobile has to find a way out of reverse. The appointment of Richard Hill has been key to that.
The former England scrum-half has been hired to repeat exactly what he did at Bristol, specifically guide a fallen organisation back to its feet and back to the Aviva Promised Land.
And one of Hill’s first acts, other than reappointing a club nutritionist, has been to cut the head off the snake of player power, one that always seemed to appear in Mike Ruddock’s final months. Gone are the senior leadership groups and the reliance on the theory that old heads know best and in their stead the new broom has swept Nobody – as in Nobody’s perfect – into the role of captain.
Clearly Nobody, aka Chris Pennell, will be one of the more youthful captains in level two, a division renowned for wizened part-timers, yet according to Hill he stood head, shoulders and torso above the other candidates.
“I would ask players and people around the club when I first arrived to name two or three they thought would be a good captain. Chris Pennell’s name came up with everybody,” Hill says.
“The more I get to know him I see many leadership qualities.
“He is very intelligent, very calm, very thoughtful and explains things in a way that makes players listen.”
Hill might have added ‘young’ to the list of attributes because, like an ability to play in several different positions, it has clearly been a big factor in Pennell’s elevation.
The former Old Swinford Hospital student has something of the head boy about him and is someone who will empower his peers.
“There had to be a change,” Hill explains. “Worcester has got a very, very good crop of younger players.
“They have not had a real voice or great deal of input into how the rugby club is run.
“That crop of players have just gone along with things and felt it could be better because they did not have the confidence to voice their opinions.
“Chris being captain gives all the youngsters a really good person to put all their thoughts through.”
As Hill might have heard during his time in France – Vive la Revolution.