When you’re looking for perfect fit for coach, try looking in foreign mould
Where there’s a Wills
ANYONE want to coach the England rugby team? Anyone at all?
The money’s extremely good and the playing talent is there but it seems the brutal politics at Twickenham and the rapacious London media that come with the territory are putting everyone off the job except the inevitable Eddie “Me Me Me” Jones, who puts his hand up for everything yet remains forever in charge of the Soya Sauce XV, or whatever it is, in the Japanese league.
Much the same thing is happening with the Bok position where more prime candidates have ruled themselves out than in.
There’s certainly plenty of flux in the rugby coaching world at the moment with New Zealand, France, England and SA among the A-list nations looking for new ones.
Nick Mallett’s name pops up in connection with just about any vacancy but, for me, he’s the man to coach France.
They need a dose of outside perspective and Mallett speaks the language, has experience at Stade Français and carries a handsome Gallic “take me or leave me” air about him already.
And after Marc “my players were cowards” Lievremont, even the blunt Nick will seem like a diplomat!
Foreign coaches for national teams are now the rage in every sport.
Who would’ve thought that the Australians, of all people, would end up without a dinkum okker in charge of their cricket, rugby and soccer teams?
And if the English twist Mallett’s arm hard enough, they’ll be in the same extraordinary position.
We’ve done it often with Bafana Bafana – a Scotsman, a Peruvian, a Frenchman, a Romanian, a Portuguese and a couple of Brazilians at the last count – but never with our cricket or rugby, although the Boks have dabbled with a couple of Aussies, Jones and Tim Lane, as assistants.
For me the starting point for national sides should always be home-grown talent as coaches but administrators need to keep an open eye for an uitlander who might serve a particular purpose best.
In the case of our rugby, that could mean a need to avoid provincialism, which is far more prevalent in the national squad than most appreciate.
Both Jake White and Peter de Villiers arrived in the top spot without the baggage of a particular regional loyalty – their path was through the U21s.
I doubt that neutrality is available to Regan Hoskins this time round unless he’s going to go spectacularly lateral and try the successful Sevens coach Paul Treu.
Whatever he does, Hoskins and his executive must not look for someone to fill a mould. Jake was very different from Kitch and there are few coherent threads running through the personalities of all the World Cup-winning coaches.
Do not look to replicate because that’s a mistake that many English soccer chairmen make.
Incredibly, there are seven(*) current managers in the English Premiership who were born in Glasgow which I can only assume is on the principle that if you can’t get Sir Alex Ferguson you get someone who sounds like him.