When those you dis­card beat you badly

CityPress - - Sport - See graphic) Dan Retief Fol­low me on Twit­ter @retief­dan

It was while try­ing to turn ru­mours into fact that I came across a sur­pris­ing item that ev­ery­one seems to have missed. First the ru­mours. With three of South Africa’s Su­per Rugby coaches – Frans Ludeke, Al­lis­ter Coet­zee and Naka Drot­ské – vacating their posts, rugby’s grapevine is sprout­ing out pos­si­ble re­place­ments by the day.

Jake White’s name hasn’t been thrown into the hat (yet), but this, among many other things, is what I was hear­ing: For­mer All Black and Golden Lions coach John Mitchell, who lives in KwaZulu-Natal, was be­ing lined up for the Sharks be­fore Gary Gold an­nounced that he would not be leav­ing af­ter all, while his com­pa­triot, John Plumtree, who was brusquely dumped by the Sharks, may be tak­ing over the Storm­ers.

Plumtree has done ex­cep­tion­ally well in his role as the Hur­ri­canes’ as­sis­tant coach this sea­son, but is said to fancy a re­turn to warmer climes. There is a curve­ball, though. The Storm­ers ap­par­ently have also been in talks with Jo­hann van Graan, the Spring­boks’ for­wards coach and trusted an­a­lyst, to move out from the shadow of Heyneke Meyer and take on a team of his own.

How­ever, there is a prob­lem. The Bulls ap­par­ently are also keen on Van Graan as part of a duo with Vic­tor Mat­field … that is if Meyer’s con­tract with the Boks is not re­newed and he be­comes avail­able.

As is the case in all team sports, the fran­chises are be­ing cagey about who might be asked to put pen to pa­per, so all we know for sure is that Franco Smith is tak­ing over the Chee­tahs.

Now for the fact. Want­ing to laud the Hur­ri­canes ( for their ex­cel­lent show­ing in the Su­per Rugby tour­na­ment and also pass a plau­dit to their un­der­stated coach, Chris Boyd, I dis­cov­ered he should in fact be quite well known to us.

PRE­DICT

Boyd was at the Sharks in the 2009 and 2010 sea­sons as Plumtree’s as­sis­tant, and the two have switched roles at the Hur­ri­canes.

So while the Sharks have slipped to 11th on the ta­ble, their dis­cards have guided the Hur­ri­canes to the top.

And when you delve into Boyd’s back­ground, you dis­cover that he has in­deed walked the walk when it comes to coach­ing. But has clearly, be­ing the mod­est man that he is, not talked the talk.

Plumtree and Boyd pre­vi­ously worked to­gether with the Welling­ton Lions, the main feeder team of the Hur­ri­canes, in New Zealand’s na­tional pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment from 2003 to 2006.

Boyd cut his teeth at the Welling­ton club Tawa and was in­volved with many of New Zealand’s age-group teams be­fore tak­ing over the as­sis­tant’s role at the Welling­ton Lions.

He was the de­fence and skills coach for Tonga at the 2011 rugby World Cup and, since 2012, has been head coach of the Lions and in­volved with the New Zealand Un­der-20s.

He is clearly an as­tute coach with a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and, cru­cially for the Canes, pos­sesses a good knowl­edge of the young tal­ent in New Zealand.

The lat­ter at­tribute was borne out by de­but All Black call-ups for two play­ers – lock James Broad­hurst and full­back Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der – who he spot­ted at Taranaki and Manawatu, re­spec­tively, and drafted into the Hur­ri­canes.

There’s a les­son for all coaches in re­marks he made when first put in charge of the Hur­ri­canes: “Our main fo­cus is to cre­ate a brand of football that peo­ple find at­trac­tive to watch, and de­velop a team that peo­ple want to get be­hind.”

Isn’t that what it is all about?

PHOTO: PHOTO24

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