Doncaster RLFC: Carl Hall reflects on ‘worst day in rugby league’ after Paul Cooke exit

Carl Hall (right), pictured alongside former Dons coach Paul Cooke.
Carl Hall (right), pictured alongside former Dons coach Paul Cooke.

Thirteen proved to be an unlucky number for Paul Cooke.

Cooke, and his assistant Chris Spurr, parted company with Doncaster RLFC earlier this week following Sunday’s 37-6 home defeat against second-bottom Workington Town, which left them six points adrift at the foot of the Championship table after 13 successive defeats.

Although it was a ‘club decision’ it was left to chief executive Carl Hall to break the news. He travelled over to Hull for face-to-face talks with Cooke after setting up a meeting.

“Paul said that he felt for me driving over and knowing what I had to say and he tried to make it as easy as possible for me,” said Hall.

“But it was still one of the worst days in my time in rugby league.

“We’ve always had a massive respect for each other and that remains the case after our meeting.

“We set ourselves a realistic target of eighth place this season but for some reason it just hasn’t worked out and neither of us know why.

“How do you explain how well we played against Sheffield in our previous game and then lost like we did against Workington?

“There have been a lot of contributing factors as to why things haven’t gone as well as we’d all hoped would be the case this season, but at the end of the day a coach gets judged on the number of wins.”

Having stuck by Cooke much longer than most other clubs would probably have done in the circumstances, the nature of Sunday’s defeat and the realisation that relegation is now more than a distinct possibility prompted a change of direction.

“If you ask Paul had he been in our position he would probably admit that he would make the same decision,” said Hall.

“Paul was the Championship coach of the season last year and he hasn’t become a bad coach overnight.

“I still think he will go on to be a top coach in the game.”

Hall addressed the playing squad, who were still coming to terms with Cooke’s decision to hang up his boots last month, ahead of Tuesday night’s training session.

A former New Zealand international who played top flight rugby with the likes of Bradford and Leeds after making his name in the British game at Tattersfield, Hall will take charge of team affairs until a new coach is appointed, along with the likes of veteran fitness coach Pete Bell and other respected backroom staff.

“We had no contingency plan in place because it all happened so quickly,” admitted Hall.

“We’ve advertised the position this week and we’ll wait and see who applies and take it from there.

“We’ve no preconceived idea of the type of coach we are looking for and we won’t be rushing it.

“We need to make sure we get the right man to take us where we want to be in the future and we are still looking at Super League.”