Derby missed chance to prove ambition, claims former coach
OUTGOING head coach Paul McCartin has spoken of his frustration following his departure from Derby Rugby Club.
McCartin saw his team struggle in the first half of this season after winning promotion to National League Three Midlands.
They are currently rock bottom, having lost all 14 league fixtures so far.
McCartin believes that, by failing to strengthen the squad sufficiently over the summer, the club have missed an opportunity to consolidate their position at National League level.
"The club has missed the boat this season," he said.
"It's really disappointing because everybody worked so hard to get promoted, which was a massive achievement.
"After we won promotion, we discussed the fact that we would need to prepare well and put plans in place to strengthen the squad.
"As it turned out, we started this season with a weaker squad than the one that got promoted.
"By failing to strengthen, we really were on a hiding to nothing. That's no disrespect to the players – they recognise that.
"It was extremely frustrating that, having worked so hard to get here, some people seemed to have given up before we'd even started.
"I think this is a massive missed opportunity for the club and it may just put a question mark against the ambition of Derby RFC."
Sutton Coldfield were promoted as Midlands One West champions last season and currently sit top of Derby's division.
"They came up last season as well and have strengthened their squad dramatically," said McCartin.
"They're now top of the league and look like they will go straight through the division.
"Whether you agree with what they've done, it's an example to Derby.
"Another one is Bournville. They struggled early on after coming up but they recognised this and brought in five or six new players, who have transformed them into a competitive unit.
"Mansfield are similar to us. They lost some players and have found it tough.
"It shows that unless you've got the finances, it's very difficult to stay in this league.
"I can emphasise with the committee saying they're not willing to spend X amount of money, because there's no financial benefit to be gained from it.
"But if we had managed to keep the title-winning squad together and add to it, I'm convinced we would have been around mid-table now."
McCartin's association with Derby goes back to 1984, when he started playing for the club.
He had stints as rugby chairman and coach under Mark Bradley, Ian Gittens and Alan Dickens before taking over as head coach in June 2010.
He was planning to step down from his role at the end of the season but due to a change in personal circumstances, his departure was brought forward.
"I made a commitment to the club for three years," said the 44-year-old.
"During that time, I wanted to get the team promoted – and I did that.
"I'm quite happy with what I've achieved with the help of (coaches) Mark Bradley and Richie Robinson.
"But all good things have to come to an end.
"My association with the club will carry on, though, as I might play a few games between now and the end of the season."
McCartin has been succeeded by Roxy Fearon, who was previously head coach of the club's Colts section.
"I've had a conversation with Roxy and I'm sure he'll give it everything," he said.
"All he can do is make sure he does things his own way.
"There will be ups and downs but he has the opportunity to work through things so that when next season starts, he will have a clear idea what he needs to do.
"The key thing is how this time is invested.
"It's a tough time to take over but, at the same time, it's a good time.
"There's no pressure and he can just have a go.
"It probably looks like the team are not going to escape relegation.
"But the players have given everything and I'm sure they will keep battling to the end."