Ruddock denies being edged out

Mike Ruddock insists he was not driven from the job of Wales head coach by player power. [more]

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Mike Ruddock insists he was not driven from the job of Wales head coach by player power.

Ruddock resigned suddenly on Tuesday, citing family reasons for his decision, just 11 months after he led Wales to their first Grand Slam in 27 years.

The abrupt manner of Ruddock’s departure, combined with whisperings from inside the camp over recent months, has prompted speculation he did not leave entirely of his own volition.

Ruddock explained he would have liked to have stayed on until the end of the season and help Wales successfully defend their RBS 6 Nations Championship title – but he could not face the pressures of leading Wales into the 2007 World Cup.

"Being coach of Wales is more than a job. I think I managed to get six days away last year in terms of holidays, otherwise you’re viewing games every weekend," said Ruddock.

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"It’s a tough job, a big job. I’ve got a gorgeous family and the thought of going onto the World Cup, with even more time away and going to places like Australia on a summer tour, made me reflect and wonder whether I was prepared to give that commitment for another year and a half."

When Ruddock announced he was withdrawing from negotiations over a new contract, the Welsh Rugby Union decided he needed to stand down immediately.

"I’d rather have stayed and seen the job through. That’s what I told the Welsh Rugby Union," said Ruddock.

"Having said that I respect the fact they decided to make the change now. They feel it’s in the best interests of the team and I respect that."

Ruddock denied any knowledge of a collapse in communication and did not feel he was the victim of player power, despite such strong rumours of a mutiny in the camp.

"I spoke to (captain) Gareth Thomas and (vice-captain) Michael Owen and we all discussed that at length, the fact that people will be jumping to conclusions," Ruddock told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Everybody is respectful of everyone else right across the board.

"(Talk of disharmony) is news to me. There’s always rumours in rugby and different things flying about on the grapevine. It’s tittle tattle."

Ruddock won 13 of his 20 Test matches in charge, including the 2005 Grand Slam and a first win over Australia in 18 years.

But Ruddock indicated the controversies and difficulties he has had to deal with over the last 21 months – from Gavin Henson’s book to a debilitating injury list – had worn him down.

"There is a huge demand on the Welsh national coach every hour of every day of the week – not just in terms of preparing the team for matches but commenting on all the other factors from players writing books to people being in the news for other reasons to suspensions and injuries," said Ruddock.

"It’s very high profile, very demanding. It’s very enjoyable but it’s something that the thought of another 18 months at that intensity was something I decided I did not want to do."

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