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Home » Tennis » Leicester Tigers Youngs brothers admits club has lost its aura… but insist theyll stay up 

Leicester Tigers Youngs brothers admits club has lost its aura… but insist theyll stay up 

If these Tigers are to belatedly begin burning bright, someone needs to light the flames of a revival — and fast. 

With five games to go in the Premiership season, English rugby’s most decorated club — with 10 titles and two European Cups — are five points off the bottom. 

Relegation is unthinkable for a club who have produced some of the game’s greats. Martin Johnson, Dean Richards, Dusty Hare, Rory Underwood, Neil Back and so many more have known little other than success at Welford Road. 

Ben Youngs (left) and Tom Youngs (right) insists that Leicester Tigers will stay up

Ben Youngs (left) and Tom Youngs (right) insists that Leicester Tigers will stay up

Ben Youngs (left) and Tom Youngs (right) insists that Leicester Tigers will stay up

The pair admit that the club has lost its aura and that teams 'smell blood' when they face them

The pair admit that the club has lost its aura and that teams 'smell blood' when they face them

The pair admit that the club has lost its aura and that teams ‘smell blood’ when they face them

So the current crop are desperate to ignite and not make the blackest blot in Leicester’s history as they stare the yawning trap-door square in the eye for the first time.

Last year, when the Tigers missed out on the end-of-year playoffs for the first time for 14 seasons, club captain Tom Youngs described himself as ‘heart-broken, hurt and emotional’, so what on earth does he feel like now?

‘Gosh I know, you don’t think it could get any worse until it does,’ the skipper exclusively tells Sportsmail.

‘People smell blood when they come to Welford Road, we have let up a little bit, have probably lost a little bit of confidence, and you end up down the bottom of the pile.’

Youngs, 32, and his brother, England scrum-half Ben, 29, are this squad’s longest-serving players – along with centre Matt Smith who has been out injured since December – having broken into the first team during the 2006-07 season.

Then the club reached the European Cup final, losing to Wasps, and won their seventh league title. Gradually, though, success has dried up to the point where Leicester have played 27 matches in all competitions this season and lost 20. Harsh realities are starting to hit home. 

Now the Youngs brothers are ready to make a stark admission. ‘I wouldn’t disagree that we have lost our identity and our aura,’ revealed Ben. ‘I would say we have,’ added Tom. ‘When you have lost as many games as we have at Welford Road you do lose something. As players, you scratch your head.’ 

While wrestling with what has happened this year, Tom concludes that Leicester’s gilded history has become a burden. ‘With Leicester one of the things you get is expectation to win something,’ he explains. ‘We’ve tried to chase success by doing what has happened in the past. 

Ben Youngs (right) wants the Leicester board to share the responsibility of recent failures

Ben Youngs (right) wants the Leicester board to share the responsibility of recent failures

Ben Youngs (right) wants the Leicester board to share the responsibility of recent failures

‘The reality is we’re probably hitting the reset button now in some regards, aren’t we? 

‘It’s not a problem with this club, because it’s great that the expectation is you have to win, get into the top four, top two, then win silverware, but also it has probably burdened us over the last three or four years.

‘Trying to achieve almost stunted our growth. I think the board have realised that more than ever.’ 

Ben wants the beleaguered Tigers board who have sacked three head coaches — Richard Cockerill, Aaron Mauger and Matt O’Connor — in the space of two years to share the responsibility of recent failures. O’Connor was axed after only one game this season — a 40-6 defeat by today’s opponents, table-toppers Exeter. 

Geordan Murphy, the 40-year-old former full back, was then thrust into the hot seat and was joined this week by 53-year-old Mike Ford, father of fly-half George. ‘For a while we have looked at short-term fixes,’ said Ben, who will miss Saturday afternoon’s match with a shoulder knock. 

‘Tried to chase success,’ chimed in Tom, before Ben continues: ‘You can’t cheat a way of getting success. Perhaps we have tried to do that a bit. ‘You set yourself up with a bit of a task straight away when you make a change after one game. You can’t spend 12 weeks getting a whole gameplan, a philosophy in place and then get rid of it after one game and then expect a magic wand to come in. 

Tom Youngs believes that Leicester's gilded history has been a burden

Tom Youngs believes that Leicester's gilded history has been a burden

Tom Youngs believes that Leicester’s gilded history has been a burden

‘If you want Geordie to be your head guy, you give him the full preseason to get all those bits in place. We’ve been trying to chase our tail since round two. We then made another change as Phil Blake came in to do the defence in January. 

‘As players, yes, we have responsibilities to perform but, equally, as a club there are responsibilities to make sure everything is in place to give us the best chance. At times this year that probably has not been in sync.’ 

Fans are fuming, too. ‘Of course football is big with the success of Leicester City, but rugby is still huge here,’ said Ben. ‘People don’t realise that, until they come to Leicester. You’ll be going for brunch with your family and kids and people will want to tell you what went wrong on Saturday.’ 

Tom said: ‘You do all the work in the week and it still doesn’t quite go your way for whatever reason, it’s bloody frustrating. ‘There’s a lot of negativity floating around the place and we’re trying to work out that negativity.’ 

Off the field, Tom has had to cope with family trauma. In 2017, his wife Tiffany was given four weeks to live as her cancer worsened. Ben quit the Lions tour to rally round his brother. 

Remarkably, Tiffany recovered and has been in remission for almost a year. ‘It’s a hell of a story,’ smiled Tom. ‘It was nice to do Mother’s Day last week like a normal couple should. She’s flying along, has got stronger over the last year, is back training, doing some fitness. ‘I’m no longer coming off the training field looking at my phone, making sure she’s all right. It’s a whole different ball-game now.’ 

Tom Youngs insists that Leicester Tigers 'will soon be steamrolling forwards again'

Tom Youngs insists that Leicester Tigers 'will soon be steamrolling forwards again'

Tom Youngs insists that Leicester Tigers ‘will soon be steamrolling forwards again’

Naturally, Ben is bursting with pride. ‘It is a miracle,’ he said. ‘Sometimes good things happen to good people.’ 

Back on the field, Leicester know a couple of wins should see them safe. Relegation is not being considered. ‘I just don’t see it happening,’ said Ben, inspired by another European giant. ‘I believe in this side and my own ability. We are a better side than some of the teams around us so I think we’ll stay up. 

‘Do you know what? I looked at Toulouse winning the European quarter-final last weekend and thought “wow!” ‘I had a Toulouse shirt growing up and love everything about them. They were in a very similar position to where we are now, finished 12th in the Top 14 in 2017 and didn’t make Europe.

Now they’re back to the old Toulouse. ‘If you were to say to me “This season you’ll stay up by one point but from then comes the rebirth and you’ll get back” do you know what? I’d take that.’ 

‘This is not a bad place,’ concluded Tom. ‘It’s a hell of a club with a lot of good in it. It needs touching up on a few things and will soon be steamrolling forwards again. We’ll be all right.’

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