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Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Discussion started by Andy1210 , 06 December, 2019 07:05
Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Andy1210 06 December, 2019 07:05
A great piece in the Guardian’s breakdown column about the difference in the top clubs and the bottom being the quality of coaches. ‘If Irish or Worcester don’t collapse, this season a giant will go down...” Will it be Tigers, Bath or us?

Kidney and Boyd show coaches are worth weight in gold in Premiership

The salary cap and CVC cash have turned the league on its head, putting an emphasis on who gets most out of players

Paul Rees

When Bristol took on London Irish at Ashton Gate on Sunday, it was the first time the two clubs had met in the Premiership for 10 years. One or other had been in the Championship in that time, mainly the Bears, and the presence of the two most recently promoted clubs in the top half of the Premiership is an indication of how the salary cap is working.

The top four clubs have all had stints in the Championship in the past 12 years while the bottom four have always been in the Premiership: Saracens are bottom because they lost 35 points for breaching the league’s salary cap regulations, but Leicester, Wasps and Bath, former European Cup winners all, have mustered four victories in 15 matches in the tournament this season, although between them they supplied 12 players for England’s World Cup campaign.

Leicester had them all back at Northampton last weekend and it did not seem to make a jot of difference as they suffered a fourth Premiership defeat, none of which yielded a bonus point. The result took the Saints to the top of the table where they stayed after Bristol drew with opponents who played the second half with 14 men.

London Irish and Worcester were expected to contest the drop this season, but after five rounds both are in the top half of the table. The deal with CVC has given clubs whose average attendances are considerably lower than the likes of Leicester the means to spend up to the salary cap and Irish were unrecognisable from their last Premiership campaign two years ago when they lost 14 matches in a row on their way to an immediate return to the second tier.

With the salary cap acting as a counterweight to the financial muscle of some and the weakness of others, coaching helps make a difference. The Exiles have the former Ireland coach Declan Kidney in charge, backed up by Les Kiss, and their experience showed at Bristol where Irish in the first half only played in opposition territory and trusted their defensive line but in the second, with the prop Ollie Hoskins having been sent off, kept the ball in hand to minimise the impact of the missing brick in their wall. Pat Lam has done remarkably well at Bristol, but Kidney came out on top on Sunday with a coaching masterclass.

The World Cup showed the difference high-calibre coaches make. Premier League football is going through one of its more frequently recurring phases where a few matches without a victory means questions are asked about a manager’s future, never mind that the riches enjoyed by that league mean that even the smallest club have the means to assemble a talented, competitive squad.

An unsuccessful streak is seen as evidence that the players at that club are not good enough, but as Carwyn James observed before taking the 1971 Lions to New Zealand, where they were expected to come a distant second to the All Blacks, the successful coach makes his players believe they are better than they are. The reverse tends to be true at struggling sides.

Leicester, after staring relegation in the face last season, should be wondering why they, and not Northampton, did not make a move for Chris Boyd, who coached the Hurricanes to the 2016 Super Rugby title. The New Zealander arrived in England just before the start of last season at the club that had been, in playing terms, the Premiership’s most conservative and risk-averse.

Seeking contact rather than space had brought them success earlier in the decade, but that had long faded and they were muddling along in the bottom half before approaching a coach who encouraged players to look for space and play with their heads up. It took a while for players to acclimatise to the winds of change and when the Saints were beaten by Leicester at Twickenham 14 months ago, it was their 16th defeat in 22 Premiership matches: relegation form.

They have won seven of their last nine and, if Boyd himself says there is still a way to go, and Saturday’s Champions Cup match at home to Leinster should reveal how far, they are far removed from the highly structured automatons that he inherited. Bath are another who should take note, a club not short on ability that play by numbers on a bog of a pitch.

Unless Irish or Worcester collapse, a giant will go down. If the table reads the same with five rounds to go as it does now, they will be twitching in boardrooms. If it is hard to see anyone advocating ring-fencing to prevent Saracens from dropping into the Championship, although clubs who told Saracens to accept their punishment and not appeal should now take their own advice and regard that matter as closed while Premiership Rugby polices this season’s cap, but Leicester, and their army of fans, going down would be another matter. The cost would be felt by everyone.

Do Leicester, a club whose slow, steady decline became precipitous because problems were not addressed, deserve saving? This could be the most enthralling, ghoulish relegation battle yet, an attraction the Pro14 lacks. In France, Stade Français are bottom of the pile in the Top 14, the grandees laid low, and with the recent investment into the game something could be done about bolstering the Championship to better prepare teams for promotion.

Bristol could have gone back to the top of the table on Sunday on points difference from Northampton. Lam still has work to do, but he was an inspired appointment. What separates the top from the bottom (taking out Saracens) is coaching: the right appointment provides a better return than any marquee player.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Heathen 06 December, 2019 07:55
I have always belived that a good coach can take average players and mould them into a pretty good team. An inspiring captain also helps.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
P T A W 06 December, 2019 10:43
Good article.
A lot of sense written in that piece.
What is worrying is “ no matter how many games Wasps lose on the bounce, an odd win here or there and lots think everything is ok.”
To many recurring questions over Wasps management / coaching for to long.
Issue now is Wasps are half way through a season and if results continue and the board do decide enough is enough.
What’s / who is the short term fix?

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Matt82 06 December, 2019 11:02
I think Tigers will act and replace Murphy. If their England players can fire they will pick up points but they might struggle in 6 Nations time. Bath will be concerned with an inexperienced coach and the amount of top players they have injured. I think Warriors will get dragged back into it but while they are picking up points now they move further away from the bottom teams. That leaves us. On paper we have a good squad and if we can get more of our key players off the treatment table we SHOULD be ok. But it's papering over the cracks if we avoid relegation. Something within the coaching team needs to change. Whether that is Dai going or Dai shaking up the coaches under him something has to give because the coaching unit is not getting the best from this squad.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
kentwasp1 06 December, 2019 11:06
It can't be much fun for Dai too. He knows he trots out almost the same post match analysis - did not take our chances, not an 80 minute performance, too many mistakes, injury depleted, needing more consistency etc etc
You feel something has to give and it's sad for an honourable decent man
But with the off field financial bleakness you also feel the (bloated) management structure will feel they have to be seen to improve the playing results. Top 6 has to be the goal to start playing top European rugby as top 4 seems gone already

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Andy1210 06 December, 2019 23:41
Thing is, we’ve got the team to change this but not the coaches. On paper, I reckon we can put out a team as good as Saints or Bristol.

No one questions how honourable a man Dai is, but he’s the DoR - the driver and mechanic - all we get post and pre match from him now is punditry. Things anyone can see. He’s meant to fix things but hasn’t done for over a year.

I think Ford will take over at Tigers - Murphy is too much ‘one of the lads’. Bath’s home form will keep them up so that leaves us. If we don’t change something we’ll go down - there’s nothing that indicates we can change things if we don’t.

Best option is to get rid of Costello - this has all coincided exactly with his appointment and changing the systems we had (it took him the first 5 games of last season). I think he’s a malignant sycophant operating way above his capabilities. I get the impression he is running the show anyway - especially training. Get a proper defence coach in and we may recover. It may save Dai. If not, Dai has to go. Egos out the door, every game counts. The ‘waiting for so and so to be back/fit’ has been a false dawn for a year now. Time is running out.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Gaz 07 December, 2019 06:23
First time in ages I actually agreed with Paul Rees.

I mentioned elsewhere that Rob Baxter is a good example of turning a bunch of players into more than the sum of their parts, when Exeter first came up. Of course they have added top players since, and him and his team have also coached players into becoming top internationals.

Take last night, it's not so much the result that is depressing - we all accept we can't and won't win every game - it is the manner of performance. Nothing has changed in a year. Still the same aimless, lethargic performance. I think the players need to hear some new voices. I don't even listen to Dai post-match anymore becaus he doesn't provide either insight, hope or assurance. Hope the players get a different message.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Matt82 07 December, 2019 07:48
I don't know any other coaches that could turn WC winning ABs into poor players. I watched a lot of both Lima and Fekitoa in Super rugby and they are top players. When Danny left I remember thinking Lima would be a great replacement and what do you know we got him. I thought last night he played well. But on the whole we are not getting the best out of him. Fekitoa is a beast and given space he can wreak havoc. Issue is we can't get him or our wingers into any space. This all comes down to coaching. Somebody has alluded to it but the definition of's Wasps in a nutshell.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
wombles222 07 December, 2019 07:59
Sometimes a very good team and a very good coach have naturally run their course together. Dai is a honourable man and a fantastic coach who I feel has taken us as far as he can go, he has put together a coaching team that seems to of run out of ideas and we have a style and system that is challenging no one and achieving even less. Unfortunately Costello was a bad decision from the get go and the sooner we off load him the better, he is not a premiership standard coach, but equally could be successful in the lower leagues (horses for courses). For the good of Dais career a move to another club/region could ignite him once more, he is quality. And for us a coaching clear out will bring in fresh voices with fresh ideas to ignite our club and team and move us forward as the building blocks and players are there. There is no harm sometimes of parting ways where the end result means success for all involved, it feels that this moment has arrived for Wasps and Dai.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
Covwasp 07 December, 2019 10:09
Costello is the problem, but unfortunately the inaction of Dai to get rid of him brings him into the firing line, some of the best rugby we’ve seen has been under Dai Young’s reign so for me it’s the coaching that needs to change

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
WaspieMatt 07 December, 2019 10:27
Costello is indeed on the face of it a problem but looking at our attack there are clearly issues there as well. We don’t attend the training sessions and we are not top level (or even championship level) coaches so we cannot pass an informed judgement on Costello alone (notwithstanding our porous defence) and be sure that the buck falls entirely with him.
What are our other coaches bringing to the party at the moment?

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
BlackheathSaracen 08 December, 2019 18:38
Haven't coaches always been worth more than the Marquee players?

The League is currently blessed with a decent number of real quality DoRs/coaches and you can clearly see the impact they have.

I think Wasps need to move Dai up or on asap as he isn't one of those.

Whether or not he's up to the job I think there's only so many times he can do the "all pull together", "we'll win one game at a time", "I know you can do this" etc speech and it have any impact.

Re: Coaches worth more than marquee players this season
westwaleswasp 08 December, 2019 19:51
I think our recruitment over the last two years has been patchy, and that is Dai's responsibility.

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