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Coaching: not a buyer’s market

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 25 Jun 2015 at 13:11
Tagged with : , , , , ,

As press speculation continues to fuel discussion relating to the vacant Sharks’ head coaching position (I believe John Mitchell just turned the job down for a third time, which means it’s time to link Jimmy Stonehoue again) I think we all need to consider the reality of the situation. Let’s take a step back.

Just yesterday, it was confirmed that Frans Ludeke has no future in Pretoria. With the Bulls having already lost backline coach Pieter Rossouw, there are several coaching vacancies at Loftus that need to be filled in time for Super Rugby next year, with the smart money not being on their hastily-appointed Currie Cup coaches being asked to take the step up quite so soon. Whoever takes on that job will be faced with a rather daunting rebuilding task, given just how much of a senior player exodus there’s been and also due to the repeated failing of the one-dimensional gameplan employed by Ludeke. With a pipeline of young talent longer than even Victor Matfield’s arm, though, you’d have to look at that Bulls vacancy as a great opportunity for a coach to come in and build a special legacy, starting with a fresh group comprising the cream of the nation’s age-group players.

Moving South, the Stormers are also in need of a new head coach (and perhaps even a forwards coach too, given that Matt Proudfoot is also linked to a Japanese gig). Facing similar questions around game plan and faced with a smaller, yet not insignificant exodus, the Stormers job is unlikely to be an easy one either. Perhaps most daunting for an incoming coach would be the notorious Cape rugby “politics”, coupled with no shortage of expectation of success, given the side’s recent achievements. Just ask Gary Gold how much fun it is to take a side form winning the SA conference one year, to not doing so the very next. On the plus side, though, the balance of power in the junior game appears to be shifting from Pretoria to Cape Town at the moment and with two great academies and two strong Varsity Cup teams in the region, the Western Province talent pool is large and healthy, again a key factor for a coach looking to build something.

The Kings, bless them, have appointed the unheralded Brent Janse van Rensburg as Currie Cup coach, but don’t appear to have any real leads as far as a Super Rugby coach goes, not since Swys de Bruyn turned them down. They’re a bit of a basket case at the moment and one feels that their chances of picking up a “serious player” in the coaching game ahead of next year would be slim.

What about our beloved Sharks, though? As you can probably tell, the case I’m building here suggests that even if all of the fantastic coaches who are continually (and spuriously) linked with the job were to be both available and genuinely interested in coaching a Super Rugby franchise, why on earth would we be so arrogant as to assume that the Sharks would be their first choice? Recent success? Nope. Stability? Nope. Assistant and junior coaches with a proven track record? Nope. Healthy conveyor belt of junior talent? Well, apart from one or two names, nope. Exciting, dynamic game plan? Passionate, loyal fan base? Modern, convenient stadium? Winning culture at all levels, including junior rugby and Vodacom Cup? I’m painting an overly negative picture, of course, but we need to understand at least some of the concerns that would be going through any potential coach’s mind when weighing up the options on the table.


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