Acting Cornish Pirates CEO Josh Lewsey talking to local media about his plans
Photo Simon Bryant
On Wednesday morning at the Mennaye Acting CEO of the Cornish Pirates, former England full back and World Cup winner, Josh Lewsey shared with the assembled members of the local media his vision to plot the Cornish Pirates course towards the Aviva Premiership.
The first thing that strikes you as you would expect is Josh’s total commitment to the job in hand and a firm belief that with the right structures and people in place he can deliver and put in place the right framework for success.
Of course the key is the delivery of the Stadium, which will open the door to the Premiership when the time comes, but for now the emphasis is to put in place his vision to take the club forward both on and off the field, it’s a vision shared by the coaching staff of Ian Davies and Harvey Biljon.
Looking to reverse the decline in spectator numbers that started to set in when the club relocated back from Camborne, Lewsey said that feedback from the supporters had suggested that the match day experience at the Mennaye was not good enough.
“We have to look at what we are offering on match days, not just that but what we are doing around that at a commercial level, we need to speculate to accumulate and upgrading the facilities that we offer will assist in re-connecting with the community.
To that effect the bulldozers will soon be in with the demolishing of the main grandstand and the rebuilding of a new grandstand over the summer along with the installation of floodlights at the ground.
Lewsey feels very strongly that the club has to re-establish lines of communication with the rest of Cornwall and to get the club’s message across to people from further afield, to this purpose the appointments of a full-time commercial manager and a full-time community manager are key to this process.
He also feels strongly that there is a strong regional connection that people will buy into, the feeling of belong to and coming from Cornwall is a strong sense of identity is something the Cornish Pirates need to tap into. “All my friends and former players from Wasps and England who are coming down for the weekend at St. Agnes they see the potential down here and they are extremely envious.
He is also under no illusion as to the challenges he faces to win over hearts and minds of those who remain sceptical to the idea of the Cornish Pirates and what they stand for.
“If the people of Cornwall get behind this club then I really do believe that it can become the Munster of English rugby. If people don’t get behind it then it won’t and that would be a great opportunity lost and something that will be very regretful.
“Ultimately people want to see quality sport, you saw the effect of the Olympic Games in London last year what it means, what it can do to galvanise people and ways to breaking down barriers, if you produce enough of a quality product and people have ownership of that, then that’s the opportunity. It’s trying to get people to see the bigger picture.
“We want to create an environment which appeals to greater cross-section of people to attend games. We want to see families and younger people coming into the ground to enjoy the match day experience that’s vital to grow the match day attendance with the values we aim to put in place I feel that will appeal to a younger generation of supporter.
On the playing side Lewsey hopes to have the Cornish Pirates capable for the Premiership by 2015, but that it would not be done by throwing money for a short- term fix, instead the club will be looking to identify young talented players to progress with the Cornish Pirates.
To that end connections are being put in place with local colleges and schools across the county.
The team will be back into training on June 10th and with a fitness program put in place by Faye Downey the squad will be put through their paces.
Training will be moved around the county during pre-season to further build community ties across Cornwall.
In another move to reconnect with the community a Cornish Pirates 7’s side will be entered into the Newquay 7’s with players picked from other Cornish clubs. There will also be an opportunity for this side to play at Twickenham against a British & Irish Lions 7’s side in mid August as part of a touch tournament.
The Cornish Pirates will play a friendly against Saracens at the Honourable Artillery Company ground situated near the City on Thursday August 22nd, with a further game against a Cornwall Select XV, with every club in the county being involved in the team, to be played at a revamped Mennaye on Friday 30th August under the new lights.
All in all exciting times lie ahead.