Durban - With the appointment of Gary Gold as the Sharks' Director of Rugby, there will be some changes to the way the coaching set-up is structured, but there is also a lot of continuity to build on, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
While Brendan Venter took control of the day-to-day coaching responsibilities in last year’s successful Currie Cup campaign, next year he will offer insights and act more as a sounding board for ideas on how to play successful rugby.
The 2014 Currie Cup coaching triumvirate of Brad Macleod-Henderson, Paul Anthony and Sean Everitt will continue to provide support to the Director of Rugby as they did in Super Rugby this year.
But for Director of Rugby, Gold, it is of critical importance that each coach knows his role and is empowered to deliver what is expected of him.
“For clarity, the roles and responsibilities of the coaches will be clearly defined, there won’t be any grey areas,” Gold explains. “Everyone will understand their roles and how they might overlap with others and that’s critically important. The coaches must know exactly what their areas of responsibilities are and the players have to understand what the coaches are responsible for.”
Although Jake White (for the Sharks) and more recently, Gert Smal (Western Province) have taken on the roles of Director of Rugby, it’s a relatively new phenomenon in South Africa.
“This position is fairly new here, but John Smit and I have had a lot of experience with it in the UK,” he points out.
“There is tremendous value derived from that. Someone overseeing junior structures, for example, ensuring there is continuity from the junior ranks and that all the coaches are on the same page. So that what we coach at Super Rugby level is the same brand as at a junior level.”
Sharks CEO John Smit suggests that he didn’t have to deliver much pressure in twisting Venter’s arm to return to Durban after his successful stint last year.
“When he heard Gary’s name, it was a short and easy conversation,” Smit admits.
Gold explains that his working relationship with Venter goes back almost 15 years when he was co-opted to work with him in the UK.
“We starting working together in 2000 when he appointed me as his assistant at London Irish. We enjoyed some really good times over there and were lucky enough to win the National Club Champs together that year.
“Our philosophies are very similar in terms of the type of environment we need to create to be successful. I don’t necessarily believe it’s just in the game plan, I believe it’s in the other detail. In the detail of the individuals you have and how you get the very best out of them.
“The environment needs to be conducive to them wanting to play good rugby and to enjoy what they’re doing. And that’s where we share a common goal; we believe we can share that vision with the players. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. It’s about striking that balance with the players. They realise it, they have a strong desire to be successful. We are going to ask a lot of our players in an environment where they will enjoy the rewards.”