COACHES ARTICLES

01/20 THE LONELY LIFE OF A RUGBY COACH

I was inspired writing this article because of my own experience, watching Super Rugby and seeing the stress that the coaches are under, often chatting to my fellow coaches, good coaches that has been fired . Recently I experienced quite a few young coaches going through turmoil times and highly strung and stressed because of the pressures of the game.

It does not matter at what level you coach there will always be the pressures on and off the field. (from unions, clubs, schools, supporters, society, parents and what you put on yourself) The only difference lies in the fact that the higher the level, the more the pressure, the more a coach is under a magnifying glass and the more you are public property and in the face of the media

There are two well known in the sporting sayings regarding Coaches in the sporting world:

 “There are only two kinds of coaches - those who have been fired, and those who will be fired.”
Ken Loeffler

and

“Coaching is nothing more than eliminating mistakes before you get fired” Lou Holtz


There is this perception out there that being a coach is all fun & flying high, bells and whistles, trophies, TV, in magazines and hero in the media, girls, big houses, lots of fame and money and the list carries on. That is so far from the truth and could maybe look so on the surface but it is actually a very lonely life sometimes and all these material possessions and ego mean absolute nothing then

The one day you are a hero and the next day you are zero. Does not matter what you have done what you have achieved, how many trophies you have in the showcase or who you are…you are always as good as your last game and that goes for coaches and players. I actually want to break it down to the head coach because as they say.. ”the buck stops there”… he feels the heat directly but also sometimes get the glory

When you decide to follow the pathway of a coach and pursue that career, be sure that you know and understand the pros and cons of the position. I must reiterate that it is an amazing fulfilling job but has its normal challenges but it you love the game, those things and negatives are minor however if you are there for other reasons such as ego, money etc.. u are bound to bomb or burn out at some time.

Often questions are asked, how does it feel to be a well known coach, do you make lots of money, how does it feel to be famous, do you enjoy seeing your pictures in the papers and magazines, how does it feel to lift a trophy, do you enjoy traveling and seeing the world and then the flip side how does it feel to be fired, how do you cope with all the negative remarks and publicity and how does it feel to be so hated or loved by the supporters & media

It is a tough job; however, the answer is simple… JUST LOVE THE GAME !!

Personally, I think being a coach is much more and a huge responsibility other than Winning on he field. Its about forming people for life, giving them tools and mechanism’s, life skills, teaching and preparing them for the challenge after rugby, and what better platform is the than the sports field.

Coaching is not a 5 day week job, its 7 days a week. If you are not on the field training, preparing for a game/season/competition... you are in the team/technical room or even at home analysing, evaluating, gathering information, thinking, planning and preparing. So that is the tough behind the scenes part that not a lot of people are always aware about

In reality, a job description for a head coach could include the following aspects:

  • Leader

  • Organiser

  • Manager

  • Friend

  • Counsellor

  • Teacher

  • Motivator

  • Innovator

  • Hero

  • "Fall guy" – in front of the firing squad

  • Decision maker

  • Role model

  • Planner

  • Taxi driver

Well that sounds simple and easy to fulfil but its is a tall order.  I guess many coaches can relate to some of these points and has already been part of such a process.