No way but out for Umaga

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :In the news on 22 Jan 2009 at 13:53
Tagged with : , , , ,

There is an overwhelming sense of dread these days every time news comes through from France. It’s a sure bet the saga in Toulon will have taken a new twist; that Tana Umaga will have tumbled yet closer to humiliation.

The eccentric owner of Toulon, Mourad Boudjellal, will have likely made some more disparaging remarks or have suggested he’s ready to ship in a container of monkeys to keep the club’s Top 14 aspirations alive.

On and on this story rumbles and, with every week, Umaga’s reputation slides that little bit further. His mana becomes that little bit less.

Toulon are now relegation contenders having won just three league games. No one in France appears to be taking them even remotely seriously.

Umaga is in the most awkward spot – where there is an operational shortfall between the ambition of the owner and the ability of the squad. One element is fixed – Boudjellal’s dream of winning a championship with Toulon. He won’t rest until there is a big silver cup plonked on the boardroom table.

Asking Boudjellal to lower his sights is not an option. Powerful men buy vanity products like rugby clubs for a reason and Boudjellal has spent enough to be justified in demanding a better return for his cash.

Umaga has 12 games left in which to convince the club’s owner that he deserves another season at the helm.

Toulon’s season is over in terms of challenging for honours. Their key objectives now are staying in the Top 14 and playing well enough to keep their respective contracts.

Sadly, it has reached the point where it’s hard to see either Umaga or Toulon surviving. The saddest part is the inevitability of Umaga’s demise.

This was a job he should never have taken, but for the money.

He was destined to fail. Boudjellal gave him a chequebook and said ‘knock yourself out’.

But rugby is not like football where money can be used to buy an eclectic group of stars who can get by on the brilliance of the individuals. Rugby is about the collective – the sum of the best sides is always greater than the component parts. The strategy of excessive and aggressive recruitment was all wrong, made worse by Boudjellal allegedly making acquisitions without consulting his coach.

It was exacerbated by Umaga falling into the classic trap of surrounding himself with people he knew. He brought his old friend Lipi Sinnot over from Wellington as a defensive coach – even though Sinnot was a masseur and baggage man with the All Blacks. Kiwi Rob Nicholson was hired as the team’s physio and then of course, there is the legion of New Zealanders in the playing ranks.

Ben Castle, Tusi Pisi and Orene Ai’i all failed to make any impact in New Zealand. Sonny Bill Williams has never played union and Jerry Collins, with the best will in the world, is barely half the player he once was.

Former All Black Saimone Taumoepeau is the only New Zealander to have made any impression which is why last November respected French paper L’Equipe was in no doubt about the source of Toulon’s problems: “In short, it is this entire New Zealand old boys network that is at fault.”

Bringing together a load of failed Super 14 players that included Western Force bad boy Matt Henjak, former Reds centre Mafi Kefu and Stormers lock Ross Skeate hardly felt like it was going to turn Toulon into title contenders.

But all those players spoke English. They would all understand how Umaga wanted them to play and be familiar with the pace and patterns he wanted.

Umaga may well end up regretting his decision to take a comfort blanket to Toulon. To the outside world, it looks as if he was the child let loose in the sweet shop who ploughed his hand into the only jar he recognised only to discover he didn’t actually like what was in there.

Boudjellal has done his bit in undermining the standing of his coach, too. In December he hired former Springbok coach Jake White to consult on where the club was going wrong.

If Toulon are relegated, Umaga will almost certainly be fired. If Toulon stay up, Umaga will almost certainly be fired. Boudjellal is a man who is blown by the wind. He is impulsive, emotional and not necessarily governed by rational thought.

Should Umaga’s time at Toulon come to an end this season, where next will he wash up? So much of what he built as a player has been undermined by the tragedy of Toulon.

The last 12 months will stick to Umaga like a cheap suit long after he leaves the South of France.

The only way forward for Umaga as a coach is to take a big step down. To serve an apprenticeship out of the limelight and to learn his craft.

Boudjellal has made us all forget that Umaga is a great leader, a thinker, a motivator and, potentially, an outstanding coach. He’s no joke figure.

Hopefully, Umaga will escape from his French nightmare soon and effectively start his coaching career again. Then we can all lose our sense of dread about what nonsense this All Black great will be subjected to next.

This article was originally posted on www.nzherald.co.nz


  • Boudjellal is a man who is blown by the wind. He is impulsive, emotional and not necessarily governed by rational thought. 😯

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.01.09 14:04:54 by McLovin Reply
  • I reckon Umaga is simply not a good coach.

    Add to that most of the players seem to have signed for them only for the cash.

    And it all adds up to a balls up.

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.01.09 14:06:16 by McLovin Reply
  • I thought Rob penned this article.Very much his style

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.01.09 14:25:04 by PJLD Reply
  • The only way is out!!!!!

    Reminds me of the eaighties song with a similar line. “the only way is up”

    sorta goes with that Stormers getup that Mc is wearing. 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.01.09 14:32:19 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I can’t believe Toulon with all the money at their disposal are signing guys like Skeate, henjak, Kefu, to name a few.

    Why not sign proven players who have made the grade in France??? 🙄

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.01.09 14:36:42 by wpw Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) : Not much ‘spasie vir inflasie’ in those shorts. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.01.09 14:37:33 by McLovin Reply

  • Anyone want some chicken curry sosaties?

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.01.09 14:37:42 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @McLovin (Comment 6) : 😆

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.01.09 14:38:24 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 7) :



  • Comment 9, posted at 22.01.09 14:41:39 by wpw Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 7) : I’ll have two thanks. 😎

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.01.09 14:41:53 by McLovin Reply

  • All finished now I’m afraid. 😛

    First time i did them on the George foreman grill and they were just as good as on the braai. 😎

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.01.09 14:46:17 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 11) :gota love that GF grill.Cooked me some good fish in about i minute last night.

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.01.09 14:48:29 by PJLD Reply
  • So not every great rugby player can become a coach 🙄

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.01.09 14:53:09 by Charlie Reply

  • @PJLD (Comment 12) :

    Did burgers on it last night. 😎

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.01.09 15:01:59 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @PJLD (Comment 12) : @KSA Shark © (Comment 14) : Is it easy to clean?

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.01.09 15:09:29 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 15) :

    dead easy, just wipe it clean, even the pieces that MAY have been burnt on just wipe off the second time you wipe it.

    I usually give it a wipe and the heavy stuff then get’s a little moisture and on the next wipe it wipes off in one go.

  • Comment 16, posted at 22.01.09 15:12:30 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 16) : Domestic goddess you are. 😉

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.01.09 15:17:57 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 17) :

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.01.09 15:20:00 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @McLovin (Comment 17) :
    Martha Shark? 😈

    And maybe Nigella Jou Lekka Ding?

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.01.09 15:22:37 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 19) :


  • Comment 20, posted at 22.01.09 15:26:39 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Big Fish (Comment 19) : Nigella Jou Lekka Ding 😆

  • Comment 21, posted at 22.01.09 15:27:55 by McLovin Reply

  • Think I’ll have to get one of those foreman grill things now.

  • Comment 22, posted at 22.01.09 15:29:34 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 22) :
    I hear the Ali Grill is faster, more powerful, smarter and works better in African conditions. 😉

  • Comment 23, posted at 22.01.09 15:32:48 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @McLovin (Comment 22) :

    I’ve had the mini grill for a few years now it it works a treat, Got the bigger one with a flat section for eggs and flapjacks a few weeks ago. Also works a treat.

    Only issue I have with the mini grill is the lack of a thermostat. The bigger one has one.

  • Comment 24, posted at 22.01.09 15:33:08 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Big Fish (Comment 23) :

    Hehehehehhe, but you can’t cook bacon or any pork products on it.

  • Comment 25, posted at 22.01.09 15:34:16 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 24) : Bigger is better in my books. Plus I love eggs.

  • Comment 26, posted at 22.01.09 15:35:25 by McLovin Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) :
    Course you can – as long as its halaal. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 27, posted at 22.01.09 15:35:42 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 23) : @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) : :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 28, posted at 22.01.09 15:35:47 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 26) :

    Actually the bigger one has 2. One for the flat side and one for the grill side..

    Just had a look at the foreman website. IT ain’t there. 😯

  • Comment 29, posted at 22.01.09 15:38:53 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • And the nominations for the Oscars are:

    Best Actor nominees:

    Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
    Sean Penn (Milk)
    Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
    Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
    Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

    Best Actress nominees:

    Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)
    Meryl Streep (Doubt)
    Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
    Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
    Melissa Leo (Frozen River)

  • Comment 30, posted at 22.01.09 16:00:19 by McLovin Reply

  • I haven’t yet seen any of those movies.

  • Comment 31, posted at 22.01.09 16:00:58 by McLovin Reply

  • Best picture
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Reader
    Slumdog Millionaire

  • Comment 32, posted at 22.01.09 16:03:44 by McLovin Reply


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