Dean Ryan will return to the Memorial Stadium, but only as a consultant
DEAN Ryan – who has returned to Bristol as a consultant – said he would not have rejoined the club unless head coach Liam Middleton felt he could benefit from his input.
Ryan, who was head coach at Bristol from 2000 to 2002 before spending seven years with Gloucester, will continue to work as an analyst and commentator for Sky Sports – but will spend one day a week at Bristol.
The 46-year-old will offer advice to the club's board and coaching staff – but said he had absolutely no designs on a return to full-time coaching.
He would, however, consider taking occasional coaching sessions if Middleton requested his input on that side of club affairs.
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"It's quite a flexible role – it's not a case of turning up for work from 9-till-5 – but I guarantee I wouldn't be doing this without knowing exactly what the role is," said Ryan.
"I want it to be something that enhances Bristol – and I am really excited by the opportunity.
"Credit to (chairman) Chris Booy and Liam Middleton, because there is a lot of insecurity around professional sport, and people can make a million things out of it that aren't there.
"But this doesn't work without Liam. Nothing has been imposed on Liam.
"This is about me helping Bristol in any way I can – whether at board level or on the rugby management and coaching side.
"I made a decision 18 months ago that my career was going to follow the broadcasting route, for a number of reasons, mainly family ones.
"I didn't want to chase around looking for jobs. Broadcasting has offered me stability and an opportunity to stay in the game – and I enjoy it."
But the lure of taking on a one-day-a-week consultancy role with the club where he finished his playing career and began his coaching career was too strong for the former England forward. This is an opportunity for me to talk rugby with someone like Liam, who is at the coalface, which can only help me from a broadcasting point of view – it keeps me current," said Ryan.
"But, more than that, hopefully I can also provide a different type of insight for Bristol, whether it is suggesting things that have worked in the past, or some of the experiences I have got from being removed from the day-to-day pressures of club rugby."
Ryan believes the role could work in a similar way to how he received important support and feedback from first Jack Rowell and then Peter Thorburn during the infancy of his coaching career at Bristol.
"Hopefully I can be a good sounding board for Liam," said Ryan. "I know how lonely and isolated it can be when you are a head coach – you make a lot of big decisions and people look at you and expect those decisions to be right.
"I look back on my coaching career and how Jack Rowell gave me a huge amount of confidence to operate at board level.
"He was a huge sounding board for me, as was Peter Thorburn.
"I see my role now as being similar, at least in terms of assessing the challenges Liam faces and saying, 'these are two or three things that, in my experience, have worked'.
"I don't see myself being a coach – but we have talked a bit, almost in a joking way, that if he wants a change of voice around January, then I can be that. But it's not about me putting on a tracksuit and turning up on the pitch in the middle of the forwards.
"That idea needs to be taken away. But if Liam fancies a change of voice and a different idea, then I have no problem at all. But Liam has to say 'I would like you to do that'. I've certainly got no intention of putting on my tracksuit from the outset."
Lock Darren Barry, who was not retained by Bristol at the end of last season, has joined their Championship rivals Cornish Pirates ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.