robdylan

Sharks cannot afford another false start


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 1 Oct 2014 at 10:54
Tagged with : , , , , ,

I work in a pretty high-paced and demanding industry, where coping with change is something you have to do on a daily basis. It’s never fun, it’s incredibly stressful and when you’re trying to do your best to provide good service to your customers, changes happening above your head within the organization can often prove an unnecessary distraction. Of these, a change of boss is definitely the most disruptive.

Now put yourselves in the shoes, for a moment, of a rugby player, expected to cope with up to five such changes within the space of just 15 months and ask yourself whether that sort of situation is likely to have an impact, both on performance and also on general mental well-being. The answer, I’m sure, is “definitely not”.

Let’s pick a Sharks player at random…. how about Paul Jordaan? He’s been in the senior squad for both super Rugby and Currie Cup over the last two seasons and started out the 2013 season with John Plumtree as his “boss”. When Plumtree was shown the door ahead of the end of that Super Rugby campaign, Hugh Reece-Edwards and Grant Bashford became the interim bosses, before they too were fired and Brenden Venter came in. Venter left after less than 6 months, with Jake White then making no secret of who the “boss” was, before strangely stepping aside to let Brad Macleod-Henderson put on the big chief’s hat for this Currie Cup season. That’s four changes in a very short space of time and if you think we, as fans, as confused, consider how much worse it must be for the likes of Jordaan and the other players.

And now White is gone and there’s the strong possibility that another big chief will soon be appointed, with every man who’s ever coached a team anywhere (and isn’t physically nailed down at the moment) linked to the job.

My only advice to John Smit and his board would be this: “don’t be hasty!”

Consider the impacts of all these changes to all of the stakeholders, players, coaches, administrators and fans. Let’s not panic and grab the first guy available. We’ve seen that a guy can come in with all the rugby knowledge in the world but be a disaster in terms of cultural fit. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. Let’s maximise what little continuity and stability we have – for the players – by confirming the current coaches in a caretaker capacity (for Super Rugby as well, if that’s required) while going through a thorough, diligent and un-rushed process of finding and appointing a successor to White as Director of Rugby. We don’t need anyone new to come in and do hands-on coaching in any event, but rather someone to continue White’s work of coach development and structure improvement, particularly at junior level.

Bringing in another big name just in order to make a good press release ahead of Super Rugby 2015 will ultimately do more harm than good.


44 Comments

  • I agree rob, I think its best to keep our coaches and move forward, we will not win the s15 in any case next year, So I would rather use it as developing our current coaches.

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.10.14 10:59:08 by Uli Boelie Reply
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    Uli Boelie
     
  • Very well said, here’s to hoping cooler heads prevail.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.10.14 11:14:40 by PTAShark Reply
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    Dragnipur
     
  • Nevermind appointing anyone as DOR for now. Let BHM and co do their job and recruit 1 x defense coach for Super rugby etc. Then phone your mates at Saracens and ask for their structures blueprint…print email and circulate to employees.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.10.14 11:18:30 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonK
     
  • Another approach would be to hire an experienced coach as a short term consultant (i.e. like Graeme Henry did at Argentina) to mentor the current CC coaches in next year’s S15. Perhaps Venter can be coaxed to assist on a basis that will not be as taxing as a full time position.

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.10.14 11:23:48 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • In any case the next two games will show if our CC coaches will be able to cope during the Super 15.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.10.14 11:25:17 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • I agree with you and can only add that in the interim John draws on guys like Mark Andrews,Gary Teichman,Wayne Fyvie and most of all Ian Mac to help ,Brad,Sean and Anthony till the next super rugby season.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.10.14 11:29:34 by The hound Reply
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  • Yeah agree there Rob, as much as we all want new people to come in and do miracles this is the best option at the moment. Lets see what the CEO does – hopefully we will find out soon..

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.10.14 11:29:36 by RedSharkUtd82 Reply

    RedSharkUtd82
     
  • @The hound (Comment 6) : According to Voldy’s new website, Mark is touting John Mitchell.

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.10.14 11:34:02 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : I saw that as well but I agree with Rob the time to bring in a new coach and regimen is in the new season,not now.Give these guys all the help you can to finish the current season with dignity.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.10.14 11:37:23 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 9) : I am thinking more about next year’s S15 though. You need to start preparing for that the moment the CC is done and dusted.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.10.14 11:40:26 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • BTW what is the situation with Dr Calder now that Jake has left? Is she still involved with the Sharks?

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.10.14 11:43:55 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • You don’t need a coaching bigg boss. You need a guy to investigate, implement and manage your high performance structures in the union from U16 right through to the SR team.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.10.14 12:50:42 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 12) : that’s right

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.10.14 12:52:50 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : what is his new website?

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.10.14 12:53:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 13) :

    The role or point of a DOR has become so blurry that no-one really knows why they need one, just that they do because everybody else has one.

    Run a talent identification programme at U15 level identifying the most promising 40 to 60 kids. This group assembles in a camp prior to the U16 Grant Khomo week where your top junior coaches, with the union appointed U16 Grant Khomo coach, works with the lads. Select your U16 Grant Khomo team and track the progress at the tournament.

    Refine your group of elite players to 40 and put them all on a specialised high performance programme from age 16. Run intervention programmes together with their parents and school coaches for the next 12 months. Some of these kids will play Craven Week at age 17 even. After 12 months, re-evaluate the squad during a week long camp, drop the underperforming players, and supplement them with other kids scouted throughout the year that show promise to sit with a squad of 40 again.

    If you do this properly 80% of the kids you put on the High Performance and intervention programme at age 16 will play Craven Week at age 18. Following the Craven Week re-evaluate, and contract the top 40 kids into your academy on junior contracts.

    In 3 years time over 70% of these players should be in your squad of U19 players that has been in the Sharks High performance system and programme for 3 years, following conditioning and coaching programmes designed and decided on by the elite coaching group (U19, U21, CC and SR coaches).

    Every single year you select a new squad of U15 players to keep this process going.

    You will create a unique Sharks rugby culture and brand loyalty not only amongst players, but their parents too. You intervene directly from age 16 to ensure players are properly conditioned when they leave school and understand the union’s systems and processes.

    Every union spends millions on development and support already on programmes that does not have a good return on investment.

    It is a very simple, but very effective approach.

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.10.14 13:09:01 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • I’m sorry Rob but your approach makes too much sense. I thus expect a big name signing soon.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.10.14 13:12:09 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 6) : Geez, how awesome would it be if Ian Mac could come coach the boys again?

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.10.14 13:14:31 by KingRiaan Reply

    KingRiaan
     
  • Rob you make a lot of sense, but my view would be to cut and cut deep. Take the knock now and get the foundation of this straw house sorted. Sometimes you need to step back to go forward. That’s why JS in consultation with the board needs to decide who can take the franchise forward and who not.

    This would mean assessing from Ettiene Fynn at the Acadamy to the senior coach……and if him and his assistants can take us forward?

    Pull no punches have open and honest discussions on who is a fit not only for the Union but also for the culture they want to create at the Franchise. Like a previous article, where are those 90’s when we ruled not only on but off the field as well.

    I would definately clean house from the bottom up and bring in more ex 90 players as coaches and mentors that can drive the pride back into that jersey……..

    I say clean and clean well……

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.10.14 13:27:22 by Lieplapper Reply

    Lieplapper
     
  • @KingRiaan (Comment 17) : I personally think he is past it saw him on the golf course the other day and he looks old.But as a mentor he is with his weight in gold.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.10.14 13:28:21 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 19) : Yeah, also saw him not so long ago, but to give direction in the short term would be awesome, but yes, maybe more as an adviser/mentor maybe.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.10.14 13:34:27 by KingRiaan Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : sarugbymag.co.za

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.10.14 13:50:43 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @KingRiaan (Comment 17) : Ii forgot to mention him…. I want him there as a sounding board

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.10.14 13:58:10 by robdylan Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 19) :

    I see uncle Ian often. He is getting on, but has lost none of his sense of humour and rugby acumen.

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.10.14 14:01:39 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • You guys are bursting my bubble 😥 just when I was jumping up and down at the thought of P Divvy being our new DOR. A man has to dream :mrgreen:

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.10.14 14:45:52 by Chippa Reply

    Chippa
     
  • The perfect man for the job would be Rassie Erasmus,he would be able to tame the Dupe boys,and Francois Steyn,he would have Brendan Venter’s blessing,and would appeal to the younger guys in the team.His ideas are very progressive and he would thrive at a union like the Sharks under a young and progressive C.E.O. like John.

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.10.14 16:10:32 by The hound Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 23) : Do you think our current CC coaching team would manage to handle the Super 15 next year?

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.10.14 16:18:11 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 26) : I feel that the seeds of disaster in the 2015 Super Rugby competition have already been well sown and watered. Neither Jake himself nor any other coach will be able to reap much of a harvest at this point.

    just my feeling – hope I’m wrong.

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.10.14 16:29:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : The only thing that is constant about the Sharks is that when you write them off they surprise you, and when you expect something from them they disappoint.

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.10.14 16:39:15 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 26) : Although many a coach has taken us to the play-offs we’re still sans silverware so if the big reputation coaches couldn’t do it my feeling is why the heck not give the no-names a go? What’s the worst that could really happen, we don’t win the cup again? We fans are well versed in taking that on the chin by now :mrgreen:

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.10.14 21:01:14 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 26) :

    I reckon there is much potential within the team.

    A mentor and/or sounding board would be ideal, but I doubt a ‘coaching boss’ is needed.

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.10.14 10:53:00 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • I’m surprised that PDivvie has not been mentioned more seriously here, without the smiley face that is.

    He has experience, has had success at the highest level, has worked with JS and do not have ego issues.

    He enjoyed considerable support on this site when he was Bok coach. What happened to that? Or was it a mere expediency?

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.10.14 12:47:32 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 31) :
    I wouldnt be unamenable. Just a bit of a concern that he has been out of top flight rugby for a while now.

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.10.14 12:52:40 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 31) : PDivvy would be welcome, and if the results didint come then the senior players could always take over the coaching duties.

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.10.14 13:28:19 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 32) :

    As has Mitchell, Venter, Mallet (names that has been mentioned) and Gold for that matter…

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.10.14 13:29:41 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • If John Mitchell is being considered, now would be a good time to at least consult with him on a very short term basis (as in month to month) I think that would give the powers that be an inkling of whether he has anything to offer as far as taking the Sharks forward or not.

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.10.14 13:32:00 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 34) :
    Fair comment.

    Like I said, I wouldnt be unamenable.

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.10.14 13:33:19 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 30) :

    But there must be some gaping holes in the front office team.

    When they pushed out v Zyl, they lost an experienced CEO. Then lost experienced coaches when Plumtree et al were dismissed and an experienced recruiter/contract manager in Strauli.

    Venter and White at least could handle several of these tasks by themselves, but who now?

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.10.14 14:02:10 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 37) :

    I don’t see much of a problem with the coaches themselves, the guys that do the hands-on stuff, but I do see a very specific need of someone taking care of structures and strategies to support the coaches, and this is more of an admin than coaching job.

    The fact that you need to understand rugby and the high performance side of rugby is crucial, but Jake, Mitchell, Gold, Plum etc was not this person – they were/are coaches. It is for this reason I believe the role of DOR is currently misunderstood and very blurry.

    What you should be after is a guy like Mallet, Rassie, Straeuli, etc. A person that can, with the head coaching group, plan rugby strategies and blueprints, but more importantly, implement these across all the levels in the union and high performance squads and coaches.

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.10.14 14:41:28 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • @fyndraai (Comment 37) :

    The term “self destruction” comes to mind.

    Which means, the real rot is in the boardroom.

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.10.14 14:42:53 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 38) : Very eloquent post. What are the C.E.O.’s responsibiltys then, and exactly where has this excellent D.O.R. scenario you paint ever been applied.
    I seem to remember Rassie being appointed D.O.R. at Province and then sliding into total obscurity to the point of becoming a non entity.

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.10.14 14:59:29 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 40) :

    CEO takes care of the business of rugby, or in simpler terms, the money issues.

    A CEO is a businessman, and any good businessman can be a good rugby CEO.

    A tactically, technically astute rugby person is needed for the so-called DOR.

    Rassie did move behind the scenes at WP rugby and left the coaching to coaches. He did not fade into obscurity but rather took care of the stuff we don’t see as the public – the structures to support coaches and players. And I guess it is safe to say that WP has been on the slide since his departure.

    A union where this is currently applied is the Lions under Straeuli. In the past, the Bulls also had this in the form of Meyer but more importantly, Ian Schwartz.

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.10.14 15:23:35 by Morné Reply
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    Morné
     
  • @Morné (Comment 41) : Thanks,I reckon John should have been appointed D.O.R.and Terry Rosenbergh should have been appointed C.E.O.

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.10.14 15:30:12 by The hound Reply
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  • The “problem” at the Sharks is their squad composition. The Sharks has a high percentage of senior established players and Springboks, not a squad that a relatively inexperienced coach would easily manage.

    Consider JW: The Sharks was only the third senior team that he coached. Both the Boks and the Brumbies were in turmoil when he took over and he could build new squads with largely his own selections and mold them. At the Sharks he took an established squad where his schoolmaster approach probably didn’t go down well.

    John Mitchell did well initially at the Lions when he had inexperienced players but his bombastic approach eventually grated the senior players. Unless he has drastically changed his ways he would struggle at the sharks.

    Jimmy Stonehouse’s “I am the man” approach works with the Pumas squad of forgotten players but might not go down well with the Sharks’ senior players.

    Late last night the Lions re-signed Johan Ackermann, probably to forestall a Sharks approach 🙂 , but his paternalistic style probably wouldn’t have worked at the Sharks either.

    The Sharks probably need a coach with experience in handling a squad filled with international players, not a rookie coach like BMH

  • Comment 43, posted at 03.10.14 07:46:00 by Baylion Reply

    Baylion
     
  • @The hound (Comment 42) :

    I cannot disagree with that

  • Comment 44, posted at 03.10.14 08:33:23 by Morné Reply
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