IRANZ Insight: The professional coach environment

There are many complexities to coaching in a professional environment.

However, there is a formula of fundamental requirements:

  1. A strong relationship with the CEO
  2. The necessary support
  3. A good plan

Sounds simple enough, but you will be surprised how many coaches don’t take these requirements into consideration, and fail because of it.

Funnily enough, these same points also have clear implications for all school and club coaches, dealing with Boards and/or the Chairman.

To expand on these points, I will use as my example All Black Head Coach, Steve Hansen (SH).

Relationship with the CEO

His relationship with Steve Tew (ST) goes back a long way to Canterbury days, when ST was a young CEO and SH a budding coach who wanted to set up a top provincial academy.

These two are on the same wave-length. They may not agree on everything, but are clear as to what they want to achieve, and understand to do so, they need to be united.

All Black Coach Steve Hansen and NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew
Steve Hansen and Steve Tew (pictured) have known and worked with each other for a long time. Photo: Getty

The necessary support

Almost anything SH wants for his AB’s improvement, he gets. And why shouldn’t he?

With the consistent success he has had, SH has proven to ST he knows what he is doing.

Planning needs to be well thought out and thorough

SH has his eye on winning the RWC and has a plan. He is building real depth of test match quality in every position; something he did not have immediately following the RWC. He is building combinations that have different strengths individually, but under different game-plans perform superbly together.

He has educated the media and has made sure we, the NZ public, are aware of his plan. We have transparency, which assists in forming our opinions as to how he and his selectors are doing in identifying the best players and combinations.

I believe there is no top player in each of the XV positions. They will change, depending on the opposition and strategy required to win each match; and this will continue until next year’s RWC.

Yes, I am saying if the ABs play Ireland or South Africa in the final, the starting line-up could well be completely different in either case.


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