x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rugby: Whether home grown or imported, there is no easy formula on coaches

Should the nationality of a coach of a Test sports team matter? Paul Radley points out that evidence is mixed.

Now that Jake White, the former South Africa World Cup-winning coach, has been turned down for a second time after applying to coach another overseas nation, maybe he will stop trying.

He certainly appeared to be stung by the fact Australian rugby bosses had opted to go for an Australian, in Ewen McKenzie, instead of him as the new Wallabies coach.

"It's not a perception. It's a fact," White was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper over whether he thought McKenzie had been given the nod because he is a local boy.

"It just happened. You fired the cricket coach, put an Aussie in, fired the rugby coach and put an Aussie in."

White, who also missed out on the England job when Stuart Lancaster was appointed instead, said he "respects" the home town policy, even if he does not agree with it.

Should the nationality of a coach of a Test sports team matter?

Evidence is mixed.

Robbie Deans, a New Zealander, had a shocker in charge of the Wallabies, culminating in thumping defeat against the British & Irish Lions.

Mickey Arthur went the same way with the Australian cricket team before being jettisoned to make way for Darren Lehmann in time for the Ashes.

On the other hand, Warren Gatland was able to inspire his Lions side, despite being from a neutral nation.

It is possible his crucial decision to drop Brian O'Driscoll was slightly easier because he did not have any national allegiance pulling on him.

But is that really much to go on? A New Zealand coach was always going to be a winner in the Lions series, after all.

And where Gatland succeeded this time, his compatriot Graeme Henry was a nightmare 12 years ago.

What is likely is McKenzie, a long-term mentor to Quade Cooper, will be able to provide some answers to Australia's backline conundrums.

Plus, he feels he will have a few clues about inspiring the players to represent their country.

"It is not some club where you have a work contract to be there," McKenzie said at his unveiling news conference this week. "The only opportunity you get to play for the Wallabies is if the Wallabies coach chooses you to play.

"If you are not doing the right thing at the right time the week to week contract might not be there.

"I want players to step up and being very proud to have the opportunity, not for it to be an opportunity that people get easily."

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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