World Cup-winning coach Jake White says top-level coaching is a lot tougher than people acknowledge.
In a column for AllOutRugby, White wrote that the unceremonious sacking of former France head coach Guy Novès in 2017 got him ‘thinking about whether rugby supporters are aware that the job is a lot tougher than just running field sessions and drinking champagne out of a big cup’.
‘It looked like Novès was living the dream when he was appointed the head coach of France after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but he’s just been awarded €1-million [R16-million] in damages for unfair dismissal after a long legal battle against the French Rugby Federation.
‘As a professional coach, you’ve got to manage a staff that you often haven’t picked yourself, and sometimes that staff don’t think the same as you. In sport you need the people involved to have a bit of an ego, to rate themselves, to walk the line between confidence and arrogance, and that can create conflict when you’re not aligned.
‘You may have a staff member on a long-term contract who is actually upset that he wasn’t given the head coaching role. So you’ve got to manage that guy because he’s not in a positive frame of mind and may not always be trying to help you win.
‘Then you‘ve got another guy who doesn’t really believe in what you’re trying to do, but you can’t get rid of him because the team can’t afford to pay him out. That’s why coaches fight so hard to have their own staff around.
‘A coach also usually inherits a squad, with some guys that he might not have recruited. Sometimes the board hires a coach to come in and light a fire under players who are relaxing in a comfort zone. And with that, some players will fight you, and then you’ve got to get rid of them. That is never easy and it seldom ends with a smile and a handshake.
‘It is a dream to have done something that is recognised and appreciated, but it does come at great cost, and people don’t see how lonely coaching can be.’
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