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Aviva Premiership: The ‘Arsene Wenger’ XV

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on March 19, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

There has been a lot of media speculation regarding the future of Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, one of the longest serving managers in the game having been at the same club since 1996. But who are the longest serving directors of rugby or head coaches in the Aviva Premiership? We pick a XV made up of the most prolific coaches in the game.

For this XV, it was a real struggle to find props who have made it as head coaches in the Premiership. Dai Young is the obvious choice and the former Wales prop has now been at Wasps for six seasons. Neal Hatley, although not a head coach, was the most prominent name we could find on the other side of the scrum. In between them is Leicester’s long-standing director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, who has now been at the club for eight seasons.

GLOUCESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 05: Dai Young, Director of Rugby of Wasps during the Aviva Premiership match between Gloucester Rugby and Wasps at Kingsholm Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

At second row it was also a problem to find suitable candidates. Ex-Wales player Phil Davies was primarily a back row player, but he has played at lock before and so moves into the second row for this team. We’ve also put Dean Ryan in at lock because a lack of suitable candidates.

In the back row, an impressive line-up of Mike Ruddock, Neil Back and Dean Richards would strike fear into the heart of many opposition teams.

The 9/10 axis is made up of Nigel Melville and Rob Andrew, with Melville now taking over from Andrew as the RFU’s director of professional rugby. Rob Andrew is the longest serving director of rugby here, having been in charge at Newcastle when Sir John Hall pumped in many millions into the club that was once known as ‘Newcastle Gosforth’.

Wasps v Bath

On the wings, Pat Howard (primarily a centre) and France legend Philippe Saint-Andre offer flair and pace, with the real brains trust in the centres with former inside centre Mark McCall and Scotland legend Ian McGeechan making up the 12 and 13 partnership.

Finally, at fullback Northampton Saints head coach Jim Mallinder is a rock at the back and is the third longest serving manager in this time, just after Cockerill and Andrew.

The Aviva Premiership ‘Arsene Wenger XV’

Neal Hatley, Bath, 1064 Days (4 Seasons)
Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers, 2204 Days (8 Seasons)
Dai Young, Wasps, 1394 Days (6 Seasons)
Phil Davies, Leeds Tykes, 1468 Days (5 Seasons)
Dean Ryan, Gloucester, 1277 Days (5 Seasons)
Mike Ruddock, Worcester Warriors, 974 Days (4 Seasons)
Neil Back, Leeds Tykes, 689 Days (2 Seasons)
Dean Richards, Leicester Tigers, 1609 Days (7 Seasons)
Nigel Melville, Wasps, 1380 Days (5 Seasons)
Rob Andrew, Newcastle Falcons, 2574 Days (9 Seasons)
Pat Howard, Leicester Tigers, 637 Says (2 Seasons)
Mark McCall, Saracens, 1543 Days (6 Seasons)
Ian McGeechan, Wasps, 1276 Days (4 Seasons)
Philippe Saint-Andre, Sale Sharks, 1694 Days (6 Seasons)
Jim Mallinder, Northampton Saints, 2386 Days (8 Seasons)

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.