>> Gus­cott: Here’s how to get English coaches

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - JEREMYGUSCOTT

“If Quins see a Dean Richards in Nick Easter then good luck to them”

JOHN Kingston’s im­mi­nent de­par­ture from Har­lequins will leave the count at just three English­men in charge of Pre­mier­ship teams. There’s Ul­ster­man Mark McCall in con­trol at Sara­cens as well, but fol­low­ing Nick Kennedy’s de­par­ture from Lon­don Ir­ish the league is look­ing a bit top heavy on for­eign bosses.

With pro­fes­sion­al­ism comes a big­ger eco­nomic rea­son to win and stay in the Pre­mier­ship and that in it­self de­mands you get the best avail­able coaches and di­rec­tors of rugby that you can. That in turn means you have to find some­one with a proven track record. And grad­u­ally over the last 20 years the search has be­come more global.

When the game first went pro­fes­sional the coaches al­ready there were all pretty much Bri­tish. Bit by bit, be­cause of re­sults over the pe­riod with New Zealand be­ing the best na­tional side and their pro­vin­cial sides play­ing the way they do, it was felt that the South­ern Hemi­sphere guys were much bet­ter than what was here.

A key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two eras is that in the am­a­teur days there was no suc­ces­sion plan­ning. Per­son­ally, I’m not a great be­liever in suc­ces­sion plan­ning – it’s not so bad if you’re go­ing well and have a coach like Joe Sch­midt, who seems to have had suc­cess wher­ever he’s gone – but who stays long enough to over­see a suc­ces­sion plan and bring some­one along?

You have to keep on win­ning or you’re sacked so you have to look af­ter your­self first be­fore think­ing about who fol­lows you. Look how long War­ren Gat­land has been on the in­ter­na­tional scene and it’s not as if Wales have a ready-made re­place­ment.

There’s been no talk of suc­ces­sion plan­ning, in­stead the WRU say they are on a global hunt for the best man.

It’s sim­i­lar in club rugby and it doesn’t sur­prise me be­cause as a coach on a three-sea­son time scale, it’s bloody hard, im­pos­si­ble even. The first sea­son you’ve in­her­ited a team, you’ve then got to do re­cruit­ment for the sec­ond year and by the third you’ve got to be win­ning the first six to eight games or you’re gone, as that’s the stage your agent starts ne­go­ti­at­ing a new deal.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing that we have lost so many English­men from the top jobs but it’s good to see the ones who are still in there do­ing well.

Dean Richards, Steve Di­a­mond and Rob Bax­ter are fly­ing the flag and it’s not as if those com­ing in from over­seas are do­ing any­thing spec­tac­u­lar. Todd Black­ad­der came to Bath on the strength of be­ing an All Black and hav­ing coached Cru­saders – al­though he didn’t win any­thing with them. In fact, Bath have tried out a few coaches in re­cent years and it still doesn’t seem like a per­fect fit.

Jim Mallinder’s stock was a lot higher af­ter win­ning the league and get­ting to the Cham­pi­ons Cup fi­nal with Saints but then he got sacked.

It’s hard to qual­ify what is a suc­cess as all the teams have dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions – qual­i­fy­ing for Europe year in year out is de­cent for one team, whereas an­other will want to be in the fi­nal or just avoid rel­e­ga­tion.

Where are these coaches go­ing to come from un­less the RFU of­fer in­cen­tives, as with the Eng­land Qual­i­fied Player pay­ments, to make sure each club has some home grown coach­ing tal­ent in the pipe­line?

Rob Bax­ter at Ex­eter is unique hav­ing come through the play­ing sys­tem from the lo­cal minis to the first team and now is di­rec­tor of rugby. The like­li­hood of it hap­pen­ing again be­comes less and less.

In foot­ball we see short-term mang­ing po­si­tions and it’s go­ing to come to rugby be­cause of the ex­pec­ta­tion and de­mands for suc­cess.

Peo­ple talk about the Cham­pi­onship be­ing a good breed­ing ground but I’m not sure we are go­ing to get many top class coaches com­ing out of there. And the reach of the Pre­mier­ship is so wide they can look at wher­ever the tal­ent pool is.

Sara­cens men Andy Far­rell, Steve Borth­wick, Pat San­der­son and Paul Gus­tard have all pro­gressed quickly in the coach­ing ranks. It can be done if the guy has real tal­ent. There are a num­ber of younger men mov­ing through the ranks, with Dave Walder im­press­ing at New­cas­tle un­der Dean Richards, and it’s up to them to prove they are good enough for the top jobs.

You look at the Pre­mier­ship at the mo­ment and you can see where coach­ing might come from. Owen Far­rell and George Ford will likely go into coach­ing and their clubs will look to tie them into player/coach roles to­wards the end of their play­ing days. Gareth Steen­son’s an­other at Ex­eter.

Richards went straight into lead­ing Le­ices­ter af­ter his play­ing days and did a mag­nif­i­cent job. And he’s de­fied ex­pec­ta­tions at New­cas­tle this sea­son.

Quins tried some­thing sim­i­lar with Nick Easter and Nick Evans both mov­ing straight into coach­ing. Time will tell if they are as good at it as they were play­ing.

It would be a bold move by Quins to put the two Nicks in as head coach or di­rec­tor of rugby with so lit­tle coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but if they see a Dean Richards in Easter then good luck to them.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Fly­ing the flag: Rob Bax­ter is a rare English coach in the Pre­mier­ship

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