Grounds for optimism as key Stadium announcement provides timely boost
THERE is rarely a dull week at the Cornish Pirates. If nothing much is happening off the field the team are normally going well on it and when Josh Lewsey arrived, several tornadoes were sent spinning around the club and Cornish rugby.
Lewsey survived his conflict management boot camp in the Duchy to then head off and do battle with the Welsh regions – the sporting equivalent of a hundred years' war, it would seem.
Now with the team going pretty well again after last year when we all had to endure rather than enjoy much of the rugby on offer, the Pirates are in for another grand shake-up off the field of play.
Firstly, we had the announcement that Friday night rugby would end immediately, before the more considered view was offered that it would end as soon as possible. This will be in the New Year at the earliest, it would appear.
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Then the Stadium for Cornwall Group announced that Truro City Council's application for a judicial review of the Stadium/Langarth development had been thrown in the bin by a High Court judge.
More details of that will no doubt emerge this week, but after the High Court scored an early goal in rejecting a similar proposal from the same authority over the supermarket development on the eastern side of Truro, there was only ever likely to be one outcome for this futile delaying tactic. Sure enough the High Court struck again. Two-nil. Game over.
Despite no official confirmation, which is unusual in Pirateland, the news was announced to a very happy Mennaye crowd during a cracking cup tie with Ulster. So, subject to rare orchids or nearly extinct butterflies suddenly being found at Threemilestone (don't bet against it, folks) the Stadium is back on again it would seem.
Pirates fans will therefore have slept well in their beds again over the weekend, but there had been even more change in the wind for several weeks, and the arrival of club owner Dicky Evans in the UK to hold a series of top level management meetings confirmed this.
The phrase being used quietly among those in the know was "succession planning" and a newspaper report last Saturday confirmed that.
In short, Evans will step down as the controlling force of the Pirates at the end of the season. A new company will take control with their own board but Evans, along with others will continue to provide funding for the club. The playing squad will continue to be developed with Premiership rugby still very much the goal and the club will move back to Truro as soon as the stadium is ready.
The plan is to develop the Pirates along the lines of Irish provincial teams such as last Friday's opponents Ulster where everything feeds into the senior regional team. It is a system Lewsey held as a shining beacon of professionalism and while it works well in Ireland, the Welsh are yet to grasp the concept, as he knows full well.
There will be those who will proclaim Evans' announcement as the end for the Pirates. Time will tell. But as Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species which survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."
Financially solvent, the Pirates look ready to adapt to what could be a very exciting future indeed.