Many roads to coaching, NZR says

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had come through the club system. Photo: ODT files
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had come through the club system. Photo: ODT files
New Zealand Rugby says it has many pathways to become a coach at the top level. But 75% of coaches at Super Rugby level are former professional players.

The union helps players who want to move into coaching but believes coaches can also come from the club system.

Former Crusaders first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal retired last year and has joined the Hurricanes coaching staff, while former Highlanders midfield back Tamati Ellison after finishing his playing career and doing some coaching in Japan, has joined the Crusaders as an assistant coach.

New Zealand Rugby high performance manager Mike Anthony said the union was open to different pathways for coaches.

But it still came down to the best candidate for the role.

Of the 24 coaches employed to coach at Super Rugby level, 18 had played professionally, Anthony said.

He said Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had come through the club system and it had worked for him.

He had started out at Sumner, then assisted with Canterbury, coached the national under-20 side, coached Canterbury, before he got the job with the Crusaders.

He said there were other coaches who had not been high ranking players and went on to be professional coaches. Coaches such as Clayton McMillan, Neil Barnes, Tom Coventry and Chris Gibbes did not play professional rugby but were coaching at Super Rugby level.

He said former All Black coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen also came through the club structure. They were great examples of world-class coaches who had come through the system and reached the top.

Anthony said New Zealand was a world leader in coaching and it was not just about the results on the field. It was about creating an environment for players to reach their potential and grow both as players and people.

Coaches in New Zealand were really well educated and that was recognised around the world. It was hard to keep hold of everyone and roles in New Zealand were limited.

It was an extremely competitive market. With only five fully professional teams, there were risks in taking up a contract and many were not willing to take that risk.

He said coaches of professional teams in New Zealand had an expectation of having to win and that was tough.

There was no age limit on when a person could coach but professional players who indicated they wanted to be coaches were given a helping hand by New Zealand Rugby when they were still playing. The players will do coaching level courses.

Some other players are also earmarked as future coaches when they are still playing. He gave the example of former Crusaders midfielder Tim Bateman, who had been seen as possessing coaching qualities.

Many though simply wanted to give back to the game.

Professional players were exposed to the professional side of the game and all its structures but it was no necessarily about "who someone had played for."

 

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