29/03/02. The news that every Leinster follower wanted to hear – Williams Is Staying – was delivered yesterday at a hastily convened press conference at Old Belvedere RFC.
Seated at the top table at the conference were, IRFU Chief Executive Phillip Browne, Leinster Provincial Management Chairman John Hussey, Matt Williams and Leinster Branch Hon Secretary Dorothy Collins.
Browne kicked off the press conference by confiirming that Williams would be staying as Leinster Director of Coaching and head coach to the Leinster team for the next three years. After expressing his delight at the successful conclusion of negotiations, Browne easily gathered the first curve ball of the session, lobbed by Irish Independent journalist Kieran Rooney, ” Can I ask you what sort of money is involved.” asked Rooney, ” You can ask me Kieran but I’m not going to tell you the answer.” replied Browne with a friendly grin.
Not that anyone in the room expected him to, but it was a theme that was addressed briefly by Williams when he went about explaining his reasons for staying.
” If it was about money I would have gone (to Saracens) weeks ago. But it was never about that. I’m not about money, I never have been. It was about I feel very much at home in Ireland. The last place I was – New South Wales – I was there 10 years. But I’m an Irish citizen, I wanted to stay in Ireland and I wanted to stay at Leinster and it was about getting that right.”
“To be very honest it’s also about family. My family is very happy here and enjoy living here and there’s a lot more to it than what seems the bais of it. You have to look after family.”
” Neither is it just about work, not just about saying, oh there’s a contract, it’s not clinical like that. It’s emotion, it’s believing in a group, the loyalty of the players and this particular team that I am very privileged to be working with. They are a very talented and committed group, a once in a lifetime team. The quality of the people here is absolutely extraordinary.”
We’re in a very wonderful era of Irish rugby, the IRFU and Leinster want to achieve, want to win, and to be part of that is something that is highly motivating. Being with the Ireland A side where we have the opportunity of doing the grand slam next week is part of it, we want to build on that next season. Now if I walked out on that in many ways by my own standards I would have felt that at the very least I would have been letting a lot of people down and we’ve been working at this for a couple of years and ther’s a still a lot more work to be done. At the end of this contract I’ll have been here six years and I hope there’ll be a strong legacy that I’ll leave behind. I hope we do have a new stadium at Donnybrook by that stage, I hope we have a professional training ground, a staff structure in place and generally a brand name and position in Irish life that I can look back on in twenty years and say I’m really proud of the part I played in setting that up, part of taking that into where it is today. If I’d gone across the water say, that same satisfaction wouldn’t have been there.”
” It’s generally a fantastic time to be involved in Irish rugby and add that together with the fact that my children and my wife are very very happy here, I’m happy here. We flew back here earlier this week and seriously I just didn’t want to go. So when I sit down now I feel very comfortable with the decision.”
As content as Williams obviously is, there is little doubt that those involved with Leinster – players, supporters alike – will be cheering at the news and the hope will be high that Leinster can add to their success this season in the Celtic League.