Confessions have no place in NZ outfit
Reading the extract from the newly released biography Eddie Jones:
Rugby Maverick only highlighted for me how well New Zealand rugby in general, but the All Blacks in particular, follow the principle of omerta.
The extract was a parade of former assistant coaches, including Roger Gould, Andrew Blades and Ross Reynolds, spilling the beans on Jones' methods and personality. Some of the charges were that he was a poor communicator, a relentless martinet and unswerving in his belief that he was always right.
"He has bad managerial skills," said Gould, who lasted two tests under Jones before leaving, he said, to retain his self-worth. "I couldn't believe the way he talked to people in front of other people. I've managed enough people to know that there are some things you just can't do to people. You can't take away their dignity."
It is well-documented that Jones' rugby obsession is borderline pathological. This story on the BBC website had some revealing gems, including a line from Jonathan Joseph that outlined how he would return to the dressing room after a club game and see messages on his phone from Jones detailing the minutes of the game when the centre had done things the England coach had liked or disliked.
It also quoted defence coach Paul Gustard at length, detailing Jones' attention to detail. It is worth noting that Gustard is no longer with England, his position taken, to the bemusement of many, by former All Black coach John Mitchell.
The thing that fascinates about this is not so much that to work or play under Jones is to suffer, but more that so many are happy to talk about it. Perhaps there is a cathartic element to it but these types of confessions rarely get an airing from inside or outside of the All Blacks camp.
Amazon Prime had its cameras "inside" the All Blacks camp for most of the 2017 season and while it was a nicely produced fanzine type of show, I learned more about the current England environment from one Joseph quote than I did about the All Blacks from multiple hours of television.
The All Blacks machine is effective in quelling any rumours of discord in the same way Rodong Sinmun is effective in quashing North Korean dissent.
The only way we'd ever learn if Scott McLeod was struggling in his new role, if Ian Foster was a huge fan of Game of Thrones, or if Steve Hansen accidentally hit reply all on an email would be if Hansen decided to let the rugby media know. The only way he'd let them know would be if it benefited him and, by extension, the All Blacks.
You can hypothesise as to whether that's counter-productive for a sport that is trying to get your attention in a crowded market, and perhaps the All Blacks method wouldn't wash in countries where rugby has to work harder for eyeballs, but in the end it's a pointless exercise. You suspect most New Zealanders’ curiosity extends to whether the All Blacks will win and by how many, and as long as Hansen and co keep winning, any other insights are surplus to requirements.