Ealing call Buckland back from rugby wilderness
JAMES Buckland has vowed to make the most of a ‘fantastic opportunity’ after being summoned from the coaching wilderness to lead Ealing’s promotion charge.
Ealing wasted no time appointing Buckland, 36, following Alex Codling’s departure to Harlequins – a move that shocked the former England Saxons hooker who had failed to land a top coaching role since the demise of London Welsh last year. Head coach Buckland,
right, who coached at London Scottish and London Irish before joining Welsh in 2015, told TRP: “I wasn’t expecting it and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s a fantastic opportunity based on where Ealing are currently at.
“I’ve waited a long time for a chance like this since London Welsh went under and it shows how fickle this game can be. I’d settled back into the ‘real world’ doing construction management and was planning to coach part-time, but suddenly this comes up. “I interviewed for some big jobs and the feedback was always, ‘We really like your rugby but you don’t have the necessary level of experience’, which is always difficult to take when you know you’re capable of doing those particular jobs to a very high standard. “But to have an opportunity now at a club like Ealing that wants to push to a higher level is as good a chance as you’d want and everyone’s pushing in the same direction. The potential here is really exciting and it’s a challenge I’m ready to get stuck into.”
Codling’s are big boots to fill, but former Leicester, Wasps and London Irish man added: “I’ve learnt lessons wherever I’ve been and picked up a lot of coaching experience in the Championship and National One. I’ve only been at the club a few days but already I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen and we’ve got a fantastic squad of players to work with.”
Ealing’s turnover has been huge, with 29 new players arriving, but Buckland said: “We’ll hope to mould a very effective pack that will allow us to play a positive brand of rugby and get a balance that allows us to play how we want to in the middle of winter.
“There are lots of new players but we’ll do as much teamwork as we can to get guys comfortable together.”
Ealing face an opening day home clash with title favourites Irish, with Buckland adding: “Irish coming down armed with the parachute payment will aim to go straight back up, but they’ll not be the only ones targeting their first game for a win.
“We’re ambitious, Coventry are coming up at a rate of knots and you’d put Yorkshire Carnegie, Cornish Pirates and Bedford among teams looking to challenge as well, so we’ll try and ensure that London Irish do not have things their own way.”