Jon Callard returns to Leeds Tykes as head coach

Former England full-back Jon Callard has returned to Leeds Tykes as head coach – almost 20 years after initially taking on the role.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 8:27 pm

He will link up once more with director of rugby Phil Davies after they helped preside over the most successful period in the club’s history.

Callard, 55, was first-team coach from 2002 until 2005, the year Leeds lifted the Powergen Cup with a shock win over his former club Bath at Twickenham.

He was also involved as they ventured into the Heineken Cup and produced a number of notable Premiership scalps.

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TYKES RETURN: Jon Callard has been appointed Leeds Tykes head coach. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images.

Leeds, of course, are now operating in National One – the domestic competition’s third tier – with Davies having returned to help a rebuild in January last year following the financial collapse of Yorkshire Carnegie.

Although clearly competitive, Tykes have won just two of their opening nine games this season.

A statement read: “As a club we are very ambitious and strengthening our coaching team has been a major focus. This will ensure that we keep on improving.

“Jon’s primary focus in the first instance will be to assess our playing style and make the small adjustments needed to improve consistency in our performances.”

PARTNERSHIP: Leeds Tykes director of rugby Phil Davies will work closely with Jon Callard. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Callard, who has previously worked as England Under 21s and England Saxons coach as well as for the RFU’s National Academy, won five caps for his country and was renowned for his goalkicking expertise.

‘I am honoured to take on the role of head coach at the Tykes in what is a very exciting time for the club,” he said.

“So many people have worked so hard to get the club back up and running and I am proud that I match their aspirations.

“I have worked hard in developing aspiring players to fulfil their potential over the last 20 years and I want to bring that to Leeds.

FLASHBACK: Jon Callard pictured during his playing days at Leeds Tykes.

“Hopefully, along with the other great rugby clubs in Yorkshire and the university pathway we can once again work together to put the county back on the top of the rugby landscape.”

Since leaving his role as the RFU’s national performance manager in 2016, Callard – who played more than 200 games for Bath and was part of their 1998 Heineken Cup final winning side – has been working as a sports consultant.

He has been active in ‘dynamic coaching and the technical development of the kicking mechanics in sport’ working with the likes of Sale Sharks, Super League club Warrington Wolves and the Football Association.

Leeds – who host Chinnor on Saturday – have also appointed Fay Martyn as head physiotherapist following the departure of Aaron Scholes due to family circumstances.

Davies will continue his role as director of rugby and maintain his place on the club’s board while also continuing to coach the team with Callard up until Christmas.

Thereafter, the Welshman will concentrate on the ‘strategic direction’ of the club going into 2022 and beyond.

He said: “Over the past 12 months we’ve endeavoured to reset the club based on hard work and team spirit along with establishing four key performance pillars: coaching, medical, analysis and strength and conditioning.

“These appointments are another important step on our journey as we continually strive to restore our credibility both on and off the field as a club.

“I know Jon and Fay will work with our players and coaches with a focus of building on the momentum achieved over the past 12 months or so and I’m very much looking forward to working with them both.”

Martyn arrives with a stellar reputation as a quality practitioner and is mentored by former Tykes physio David Stringer.

Callard was a decorated player having been part of the successful Bath side of the early to mid 1990s which won five league titles, as well as the Pilkington Cup on five occasions. He made his England debut kicking four penalties in a shock 15-9 win over the All Blacks in 1993 and, the following year, was to the fore again, kicking all their points in a 15-14 success against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Callard scored all 19 of Bath’s points in that European glory and was appointed assistant coach to Andy Robinson at Bath, before being made head coach in 2000.