Making Sense Of Rugby Coaching Carousel

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Junoir Blaber

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Junoir Blaber is a rugby-lifer; fan, player & Assistant Coach for the New York Rugby Club, whose upcoming NYRC Thanksgiving 7s Tournament is not to be missed. We will indeed be there, doing our thing. Bring your best hair & makeup – you may be on camera!

RESUME HQ – Touch-up those coaching CVs and Resumes, even you Johnathan Wicklow Barberie.Why? Because like as is the case with our Association Football  [soccer] cousins, the Coaching Carousel is spinning as warp speed. Contracts are up, coaches are resigning and coaches are being forced out.

This is a clearer indication that although Six Nations and The Rugby Championship (new name of Tri-Nations now that adding Argentina makes it 4 ) titles matter, National Team coaching appointment cycles are tied to Rugby World Cup performance. Win and you retire or step down, lose/perform poorly and you are asked to fall on your sword… for the sake of your nation. Heavy stuff. So, who has a Help Wanted sign up and who can expect to get a coach that will make a difference? Let’s see:

CLICK for Canad's Kleeberger

CANADAKieran Crowley – Still in the position for maybe another year as Rugby Canada looks to make a transition from a decent showing to a more competitive showing.

USAEddie O’SullivanGone Baby, Gone. I expect the US to take a look at maybe an Eddie Jones or maybe a Super 15 level coach. Not sure if either fit what the US need, I know we don’t need another Scott “Frog-wit” Johnson. They need a coach with a good understanding of the American rugby scene and challenges. [Cough] Mike Tolkin [cough, cough].

ARGENTINA: Santiago Phelan – Thank you for dutifully serving but… Los Pumas are starting to develop some exciting backline talent and really need someone to Bring an expansive game plan to the forefront. Maybe the should look at another RWU pal, John Kirwan.

Kirwan with Johnathan Wicklow Barberie

JAPAN: John Kirwan – It’s been a pleasure. I loved the up-tempo Brave Blossom attack of the last RWC. It will now be up to the next coach to add more grinding forwards’ play to the mix. John Kirwan won’t be out of work for long. We’ll be looking for updates from Zilia Zara-Papp, our Tokyo correspondent/rugby spy.

ITLAY: Nick Mallet – Did all he could, time for a fresh voice. Nick made the Italians into a competitive side that require full attention or full regret will be the result. Getting to the next level will require a voice more focused on making the backs dangerous.

ENGLAND: Martin Johnson – Was thrown a life vest – Biggest News of the week in rugby. Clearly he understands the game, but his leadershipn man management and Xs & 0s knowledge were found wanting. As long as Rob “Squeaky” Andrew is there, everyone will fail.

NZ: Graham Henry – “Phew! My work is done here.” That’s what Declan Yeats heard Henry exhale at the final whistle. He brought home the title. Best to retire now while on top. His top assistant has been picked, which is the product of success.

FRANCE: Marc Livermont – Lame Duck.  His replacement was named before the plane left for NZ. His players stopped playing for him and rallied against him. His tenure is mercifully over.

SOUTH AFRICA: Pieter De Villiers – Paper versus Actuality – If you never listened to his press conferences you would be impressed by his record. It is a tough position packed with pressure. He is shortlist as he had to step down and re-apply. Look for the names Mitchell and Coetzee to be in the mix.

FIJI: Samu Domoni – In too deep – It is tough when you are the head coach of a Nation as small and limited budget as all the PI nations. However all your players play at a higher level than you have coached. It showed the lack of structure and composure.

SAMOA: Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua – Grandpa still knows a thing or two – one of the oldest coaches at the Tourney. He got his team through a brutal schedule and a cat’s whisker of the QFs. The Transition hopefully will be slow and methodical

Todd Blackadder laughs at Johnathan Wicklow Barberie

TONGA: Isitolo Maka – “Can I get another shot?” That’s what I’d be asking if I were Maka. He had to deal with a meddling TRFU president but still had Tonga beat France and only a Bonus Try short of QFs. I hope he is reappointed and he gets the shackles taken off. There is potential for 2015. Look what Graham Henry did with another 4 years.

RUSSIA: Nikolay Nerush – Thanks, but I think I can do a better job. Replaced by his boss. Clear indication he didn’t meet standards set by his boss and they stopped being on the same page. In Siberia with the flyhalf.

And I’ll leave you with this: Queensland Reds Ewen McKenzie and RWU buddy Todd Blackadder of the Canterbury Crusaders are certainly worthy of consideration…

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About the Author ()

Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.

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