Evans sent man of Cardiff

Owen Slot talks to Terry Holmes about his new life in a legend's shadow

WHEN Cardiff run out at Lansdowne Road to play Leinster on Saturday in the first ever Heineken European Cup semi-final, it is not just the fixture that will be breaking new ground. In the crowd will sit Terry Holmes, the former Wales scrum-half, who will be reaching another landmark: his first full official week as their coach.

The announcement that Holmes was to take charge of the club where he won his 26 caps was a muted one. No one at the small press conference was the slightest bit surprised, for even though Holmes had already been coaching Cardiff for the two weeks since Alex Evans, his predecessor, had departed, it seemed that he had been groomed for the job for over three years.

When Evans arrived in 1992, his intention was to build a structure at Cardiff that would outlast him and one of his first moves was to employ Holmes as his assistant. "Alex did a fantastic job," Holmes said, "and for me it was just like being on an extended coaching course."

Holmes's apprenticeship has been wound down in the last two months following the news that Evans was to leave and as the departure date approached, Evans shrunk into the background and pushed the younger man forward. The players should hardly have noticed the change, Holmes insists, acknowledging that it is an impressive act he has to emulate: "I followed Gareth Edwards into the Wales team, so I've followed legends before."

Holmes, of course, became something of a legend himself, a point not lost on his charges, said Jonathan Humphries, the Welsh captain and Cardiff hooker: "Most of us watched him when we grew up - personally, I was of the opinion that he carried the rest of the team. He was our hero. We don't tell him that, but there's no doubt that when he talks, we listen."

The changes under Holmes should therefore be minimal. He preaches a similar game to Evans and, also in his predecessor's style, he refrains from sending his players into the fray with a set plan, believing that they will improve if they learn to think victory through for themselves. Where Cardiff might be a different place, though, is in team selection: Evans used a rota system and was criticised for defeats incurred when the strongest XV was perhaps not fielded. Holmes, instead, intends to increase the competitive spirit by making his players fight for the 15 positions.

Not that any extra incentive will be needed on Saturday. "A lot of people have been putting Welsh rugby down, saying it's rotten right through," Humphries said. "This is a chance to show that's not the case." Cardiff qualified by way of a draw with Begles and a win over Ulster, games which were "a breath of fresh air" says Humphries.

"In Wales, the clubs know each other so well, it's become easy to stop each other playing," he said. "But the new competition has been brilliant so far; everybody has noticed the difference, I don't think it's a coincidence that the best rugby we have played this season has been in those games. I just hope it will be the same against Leinster."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine