Category: Rugby

Time to Silence the Noise on Gats

In a part of New Zealand there is a bit of grumbling starting to take place. Also coming from a small corner in the Northern Hemisphere there is a bit of grumbling slightly different to one in New Zealand but very similar.  Meanwhile there is some giggling coming from the both of the African continent, giggling at what is causing the grumblings taking place in two different parts of the globe.

Now there is one thing that is causing this break out to take place and it is a rugby coach. 

One who recently was voted by Rugby World magazine as the greatest coach of all time. One who in a little corner of the Northern Hemisphere is ranked above God, Tom Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ryan Giggs and Ian Rush?  One who has recently returned to the city where as a player the fans carried him on their shoulders down Angelsea Street in 1992 after winning the first ever NPC final, then again down the same street in 1993 after scoring a try to beat the Lions plus in ’93 all the way down State Highway One from Eden Park after they had defeated All Blacks laden Auckland side to win the Ranfurly Shield. And now that player is coaching his team to a run of 9 games in a row without a win.  The same very coach who negotiated a year away from his contract to go and coach one of his old teams.

The coach in question is one Warren Gatland born and raised a true Mooloo man.

One who in the eyes of this “blogger” is over hyped and it is time to silence the noise around him.

So let’s look at his whole international rugby coaching career.

Warren got the Ireland coaching job during the middle of the 1998 5 Nations campaign and was sacked after the Southern Hemisphere end of year tours in 2001.  During that span he coached Ireland in 38 tests he won two trophies.  The Centenary Quaich in 2000 annually played between Ireland and Scotland as part of the now 6 Nations and The Millennium Trophy played annually as part of the now 6 Nations between England and Ireland.  Over those 38 tests Ireland only won 18, lost 19 and drew 1.  Leaving Warren on a lowly 47.37% win ratio. Not really a sign of greatness to follow, however Steve Hansen only had a 33.33% win ratio with Wales and he has just been knighted for his services to rugby. So greatness can come from that dark place of getting the sack.

Let’s have a look at the 1999 Rugby World Cup side for Ireland since that was being close to the middle of his career there.  Keith Wood, Malcolm O’Kelly, David Humphreys, Gordon D’Arcy, Kevin Maggs, Conor O’Shea and a young buck with only 3 tests to his name Brian O’Driscoll.  So he had a team with talent spread throughout.  All of those named played over 30 tests for Ireland and if you take out O’Shea all of them played over 50 test for Ireland.  So with a team with that much talent you must have a hard think back to how they did in the 1999 Rugby World Cup.  Well the lost in a quarter final play-off game. Oh so they made the quarter finals?  Well no…the ’99 RWC had this funny midweek play-off between the five 2nd place sides from pool play and the best placed 3rd place side from pool play.  In this game Ireland lost to Argentina 28-24.  All 24 points came in the form of either penalties (7) or a drop goal from the boot of David Humphreys.  Not exactly setting the attacking world on fire.  But perhaps a precursor as to what would happen later down the path.

OpponentPlayedWonDrewLostWin ratio (%)Tier
 New Zealand10010%1
 South Africa40040%1
 United States2200100%2

Gats then got the job with Wasps where he did quite well in fact he led them to three Premiership finals from the 02/03 season through to the 04/05 where they won all three.  During the round robin section of the competition they finished 2nd every season.  Now the squad was built around key England players such as Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey, Joe Worlsey, Matt Dawson and Simon Shaw plus throw in other internationals Rob Howley, Trevor Leota and Craig Dowd also had a young up and coming future podcast host in James Haskell.

Warren kept up the club coaching with a return to New Zealand with Waikato in the NPC for a three year stint during this stint he took them to 7th in his first season, his second season he took them to the final in 2006 also during that year he was the technical advisor to the Chiefs in the Super 14 however they only finished 7th out of the playoff race.  Then during the final season with Waikato in 2007 they made it to the quarter finals.

Then a month later in November 2007 Warren Gatland found himself a long way from his bach at Waihi Beach and the start to New Zealand summer, as he was named the new coach of Wales and this is where the hype starts. This is a role that he would hold for the next 12 years and one where he was afforded the opportunity to step away when we wanted, like a great coach expect he wasn’t.

Let’s start with the trophies that he won

  • 6 Nations: 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2019
  • Grand Slam (so won all the games): 2008, 2012 and 2019
  • Triple Crown (beat all the “home nations” England, Ireland and Scotland): 2008, 2012 and 2019
  • James Bevan Trophy (played between Australia and Wales): 2008 and 2018
  • Prince William Cup (played between South Africa and Wales): 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Doddie Weir Cup (played between Scotland and Wales): 2018 and 2019

So judging from trophy point of view he did pretty well but there were a lot of barren years mixed in there too.  Plus the last three trophies could be won on the day basically a one game shoot out.

So let’s deep dive a little bit further into his coaching stint which was a long long stint, one potentially that should have been ended a lot sooner than it did.

During those 12 years he coached 127 test matches so nearly 11 tests a year.  Wales scored an average of 22.92 points a game while conceding an average of 19.66 a game.  He played 18 teams.  16 of them other International sides. While coaching Wales in two games against the Barbarians and one game against the Brumbies.  He won one game and lost the other against the Baabaas while was able to sneak past the Brumbies on their tour of Australia in 2012 by a close margin of 25-15.

So World Rugby has pretty much broken the playing nations into different tiers. Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3. So out of the international opposition he has faced 9 Tier 1 sides and 7 Tier 2 sides, while never facing a Tier 3 side which have been broken up into Development One and Development Two zones.  But really if we look at the system is there really a Tier 1A and Tier 1B. Sides that could be counted as Tier 1B: Argentina, Italy, Scotland

So let’s take a look at the actually statistics which make up the actual facts that silence the noise around Warren Gatland and prove that he is actually an average coach.

OpponentPlayedWonDrewLostWin ratio (%)Tier
 New Zealand1200120%1
 South Africa15401126.67%1

So you see here that against Tier 2 sides he has a 100% win ratio oh wait no Fiji drew with them, it took a last gasp penalty for Fiji to earn the draw but really a Tier 1 side under the “greatest coach ever” should never draw with a Tier 2 side.

So looking at his results against the bottom sides in Tier 1 or the new Tier 1B.  He has a 100% record against them having played Argentina, Italy and Scotland a combined 27 times.

So against the big boys of World Rugby teams that have won the World Cup multiple times, been to multiple World Cup finals and Ireland. Over 12 years and having the title of the “greatest coach ever” he should have an amazing record right?  Beating every team, finally beating the All Blacks something no Welsh team has done since 1953. As the table shows he only has a winning record against France.

So looking at his time against the big boys of Australia, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa how did Wales really do against them?

PlayedWonDrewLostWin ratio (%)

He played them a lot over half his tests as Head Coach were against the big boys.  However his win ratio drops dramatically to a terrible 34%.  Which when you look at it and to use a cricketing term.  Wales were just a flat track bully and when the tough got going they didn’t.

But he is a great Lions coach will be the next call that comes down.  Well again he is only has a 50% winning record. Australia we a pretty average side at the time and at the end of the series Robbie Deans as asked to hand his resignation in.  As for the New Zealand series in 2017. The Lions won a test after playing for 55 minutes against 14 men even then needed a dubious penalty from a poor pass that cause the player to jump to catch it and in doing so jumped into the defensive line.  Then the final test everyone knows about the draw and the dodgy referee reversal.

OpponentPlayedWonDrewLostWin ratio (%)
 New Zealand311133.33%

 So total final international coaching stats for Mr Gatland, the so called greatest coach of all time. Covering his time with Ireland, Wales and the British and Irish Lion

PlayedWonDrewLostWin ratio (%)

So his 9 losses in a row for the Chiefs doesn’t really come as a surprise to this “blogger” the stats and facts show that he is an overhyped coach and he is average at best!

Let me end with this question.  If the main goal kicker for your international team only kicked at 53.22% would you want him to stay in his role for 15 years???

Breaking Away

Currently to wear the silver fern on your chest whilst playing rugby you must be representing one of the following teams: All Blacks, Maori All Blacks, All Blacks 7s, Black Ferns, Black Ferns 7s, New Zealand under 20, New Zealand Schoolboys, Heartland XV and the 9th and 10th sides?  New Zealand Universities and New Zealand Universities Women 7s.

New Zealand Universities has a strong history within New Zealand rugby having beaten the visiting British and Irish Lions in 1977, while more recently helping produce such All Blacks as Conrad Smith, Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock.

Now spread out New Zealand there are 8 universities, Auckland, AUT, Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Lincoln, Canterbury and Otago. However there are roughly around 20 campuses across the country.  

Now you will be asking yourself why am I chatting about Universities, campuses and the silver fern and what does that have to do with sport.

Well there is a ready-made rugby competition just for the University clubs. So it is time to break away from the provincial union run competition and start this up?  

How would it be run?

Each University would be required to have the following teams. A and B Men’s Team, Women’s Team and Under 21. Where they could run their own academy programs really build it around an American College program. Create high performance hubs for all the University’s high performance athletes.  This could include a performance gym, hydro facilities for recovery, on site physio, a small indoor stadium, a couple of meeting rooms of various sizes so you could do 1 on 1 meeting or whole team meetings, good changing facilities and of course an area for the student athletes to be able to study in plus having academic tutors that can help assist over a broad range of topics.

The way the draw would work would be University against University.  So for example all four teams from Auckland University would travel down to play away against Waikato University.  Each team would have 7 home games, 7 away games and then 2 bye games. From there it becomes final time so there would be semi-finals and final.  Simple and easy 1 hosts 4 and 2 hosts 3.  Then why not host the final in the most University City in the world Dunedin.  Imagine nearly 31,000 tribal university rugby fans packing out Forsyth Barr Stadium.

How would we do this? There is already a big demand from Sky Sports already covering live 1st XV High School. So potentially we could head down that path and selling the rights for Sky or Spark since they will want some live rugby coverage. They would have to show one University match up a week and then have highlights show during the week covering the other match ups. So this means that there would be at a minimum of 4 games live per week. Plus then the highlights show of the other games.  That is a lot of screen time for players, coaches, teams, supporters and sponsors.  That end group is the most important one.  We are able to get some sponsors on board then it would help make it all happen.

The other option for the University Games is to go at it alone on the broadcast front.  Use the internet to our advantage.  Either live stream it on our own website and have a registration to access the live feed or set up a channel on Youtube where we can live broadcast games and more than one game at that.  Easy to control interviews and introduce the characters behind the clubs.  Commentating the games could be done by two professionals or listen into an alternative commentary team made up from a fan of each University. Imagine the banter that would go on during the Canterbury vs Lincoln clash. 

Let’s ponder who you would put forward from your university club to commentate while we get the competition sorted to start.

The New Old Game

2020 it’s been a hell of year.  The outlook on world sport has changed has it looking at New Zealand with live sport back with crowds.  The NBL signed a historic agreed with ESPN to show all 56 games live. Rugby got back underway at professional and club level and then rugby did an odd and funny thing.  It went back in time by announcing that there will be a North vs South game! Now this hasn’t been seen on the calendar since 1995 well there was a game in 2012 but when Robbie Robinson was playing for the North it wasn’t done right.

Continue reading “The New Old Game”