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Sharks cannot afford another false start

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 1 Oct 2014 at 10:54
Tagged with : , , , , ,

I work in a pretty high-paced and demanding industry, where coping with change is something you have to do on a daily basis. It’s never fun, it’s incredibly stressful and when you’re trying to do your best to provide good service to your customers, changes happening above your head within the organization can often prove an unnecessary distraction. Of these, a change of boss is definitely the most disruptive.

Now put yourselves in the shoes, for a moment, of a rugby player, expected to cope with up to five such changes within the space of just 15 months and ask yourself whether that sort of situation is likely to have an impact, both on performance and also on general mental well-being. The answer, I’m sure, is “definitely not”.

Let’s pick a Sharks player at random…. how about Paul Jordaan? He’s been in the senior squad for both super Rugby and Currie Cup over the last two seasons and started out the 2013 season with John Plumtree as his “boss”. When Plumtree was shown the door ahead of the end of that Super Rugby campaign, Hugh Reece-Edwards and Grant Bashford became the interim bosses, before they too were fired and Brenden Venter came in. Venter left after less than 6 months, with Jake White then making no secret of who the “boss” was, before strangely stepping aside to let Brad Macleod-Henderson put on the big chief’s hat for this Currie Cup season. That’s four changes in a very short space of time and if you think we, as fans, as confused, consider how much worse it must be for the likes of Jordaan and the other players.

And now White is gone and there’s the strong possibility that another big chief will soon be appointed, with every man who’s ever coached a team anywhere (and isn’t physically nailed down at the moment) linked to the job.

My only advice to John Smit and his board would be this: “don’t be hasty!”

Consider the impacts of all these changes to all of the stakeholders, players, coaches, administrators and fans. Let’s not panic and grab the first guy available. We’ve seen that a guy can come in with all the rugby knowledge in the world but be a disaster in terms of cultural fit. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. Let’s maximise what little continuity and stability we have – for the players – by confirming the current coaches in a caretaker capacity (for Super Rugby as well, if that’s required) while going through a thorough, diligent and un-rushed process of finding and appointing a successor to White as Director of Rugby. We don’t need anyone new to come in and do hands-on coaching in any event, but rather someone to continue White’s work of coach development and structure improvement, particularly at junior level.

Bringing in another big name just in order to make a good press release ahead of Super Rugby 2015 will ultimately do more harm than good.


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