Darbon has been 'really impressed' with how Dowson has stepped up at Saints

Phil DowsonPhil Dowson
Phil Dowson
CEO Mark Darbon says he has been 'really impressed' with how Phil Dowson has stepped up at Saints.

Dowson was promoted to the role of director of rugby last summer, with Chris Boyd moving back home to New Zealand while remaining employed by Saints as technical coaching consultant.

Sam Vesty went from attack coach to head coach, assisting Dowson.

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Saints are currently fifth in the Gallagher Premiership, three points behind fourth-placed London Irish with two games of the regular season to go.

"There's lots of positives," Darbon said.

"We've struggled through being consistently inconsistent so we need to bring some real consistency to our performances over the last couple of weeks.

"We know there are two massive matches coming up. If we win those, we'll be in the mix, then it's only two more wins and you can take the title.

"It's nice to be involved at the business end of the season, but we're well aware that we need to bring that extra consistency to our game."

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On the coaching transition since Boyd headed home, Darbon said: "I've been really impressed.

"Phil Dowson, in particular, has stepped up really well. It's been great for him to have some advice from Chris Boyd from afar in the consultancy role he's been fulfilling for us.

"But Dows has very much put his own stamp and authority on it.

"He's a great leader, he's very articulate, he's a fantastic communicator.

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"We've had Sam Vesty stepping up into the head coach role, and we continue to play a brand of rugby that we're really proud of here at Saints.

"There are aspects of our game that we really need to shore up, too - that's obvious for all to see.

"We've got to get that mix right going forward."

Boyd continues to provide guidance for the coaching team from afar, but could there come a point where he is no longer involved?

"Dows very clearly is the leader of what we do in rugby at the moment so it's very much his gig, he's in charge, he's the decision maker but he has Chris making a couple of visits each year and on the end of the phone to offer some advice," Darbon said.

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"Our ambition always was to get through that model this season, see what it looks like, and I'd be very surprised if Chris wasn't involved moving forward because he adds value, he's got a deep connection to the club, he's obviously a very, very experienced coach.

"But make no mistake, this is Phil Dowson's gig and he's in charge."