Dick Muir is on the shortlist for the post of assistant Bok coach under Peter de Villiers. A good thing for some, but a mistake in my view.
When news first broke of Muir’s aspirations to coach the Boks following the departure of Jake White I made no secret of the fact that he would be the ideal candidate to take the Boks forward.
This I believed for many reasons. Firstly his rugby coaching achievements speaks for itself, and although a bit of a novice in the coaching environment every team Muir took charge of turned to gold. The Sharks fans or rather any rugby follower in South Africa will quickly show you the turn-around he affected at the Sharks after they were down in the dumps. Their youth structures are arguably the best in the country and I cannot think of one other Super coach who has brought so much young talent through than Muir.
Besides his coaching acumen Muir is probably the only universally liked coach by all South African supporters and players, no matter where your loyalties lie. I cannot begin to think that provincialism which is such a big thing in South African rugby will become a problem under Muir. Add to this his ability to converse fluently in most major languages (official) in South Africa and his admirable transformation record and Muir seems almost the perfect candidate for the Bok coaching position.
So why was he not considered?
Well SARU came out and said he missed the cut-off date, which to me was strange since they extended the cut-off date in order for Heyneke Meyer to apply for the job – but that is history.
Muir said he was not going to apply while there were still doubts on Jake’s availability for the Boks, he just felt it was wrong – admirable to say the least.
So Muir missed the boat, something even Jake White said could have been a mistake because Muir, unlike many other candidates understood the ethos and pride that comes with the Bok jersey since he played for the them in the 90’s – and of course that was one of White’s aims, to restore pride to the Bok brand.
De Villiers was appointed as Bok coach as we all know with Meyer losing out to what is seemingly a mud-slinging political fight between the Stofile and Hoskins camps.
Now rugby politics or politics in rugby is nothing new – hell if you have been following the game for the last 10 years you will know it supersedes everything in our game, even winning a World Cup. The problem I have with it, and more with Muir’s association with the Bok assistant coaching job is that it destroys the careers of both players and coaches so politicians can survive – and I would hate to see Muir’s reputation destroyed while he has arguably another 15 good years of coaching left in him.
South Africa has already lost Mallet, White and Meyer in one year from a coaching perspective and to me, we can ill-afford to lose one of our most exciting younger coaches in Muir.
Interestingly I read a report in which Muir mentioned that the plan was always to leave the Sharks at the end of this year – personally I had no idea this was his plan. For me the job at the Sharks is far from done for Muir and I would have loved to know where he was planning to go after the Sharks in 2008 apart from now applying for the assistant Bok coaching position. Was Muir about to leave South African shores?
Even so, whether his job was done or not in my opinion at the Sharks Muir is entering an arena where he has a hell of a lot to lose, and not much to gain.
Assistant coaches throughout the years are not really remembered when campaigns went horribly wrong for head coaches. Who were Straeuli’s assistant coaches again? Can anyone remember (apart from Jake) Viljoen’s back-up team? But also, they are really not hot commodities after these failed campaigns.
Under De Villiers Muir will have his work cut out for him – as an accomplished head coach he will not always have final say, but still be held responsible for failures in certain departments – and let’s be honest – as world champions under De Villiers in 2008 the year can go horribly wrong very quickly.
Where to after that for Muir? As a failed assistant coach he will not be one of the favourites to take over from De Villiers should he fail, and as history has shown, franchises or provinces are not keen on employing coaches from failed campaigns either.
So what could he possibly gain?
Experience? A Learning curve at the highest level? For sure, but at what cost to him?
I think an assistant coaching team to work with De Villiers in the mould of Muir (backs) and Gold (forwards) has an exciting ring to it and it might be hugely successful, but it is still one hell of a risk to take – one I would not consider if I was Muir.Tweet