I’d like to think that I know something about this beautiful game that we all love. I have coached a team for over 7 years now. What really tests you as a coach is recognising where the team needs improving and then applying the correct drills to effectively change the way players behave in certain situations. Let us compare that to a doctor, you go in with symptoms, the doctor assesses your condition, diagnoses your condition and then decides on how to treat it. If the doctor misunderstands the symptoms then the diagnosis and treatment won’t be correct and you won’t get better.
Going back to recognising what is not going right with a rugby team, methods can be used to ascertain this. Firstly you have to view the instances yourself, secondly you can look at match statistics and you can discuss it with fellow coaches or even just plain rugby supporters. There are eyes everywhere all seeing things from a different point of view.
Gary Gold is a lover of statistics whenever he is interviewed mid-match or post-match he continually refers to match stats and from these stats he tells you what he feels is the problem.
Analysis of statistics can be subjective, for example: If the match statistics for tackles made for your team is 167 tackles and the statistic for missed tackles by your team is 54. A ‘Domkrag’ coach will look at that and say “Why are we missing so many tackles?” and he will spend the next week working on defensive organisation and individual tackling skills. A ‘Modern rugby’ coach would look at those stats and say “Why are we making so many tackles? It must mean that the opposition had all the posssession. If you make that many tackles you are bound to get tired and tackles inevitably will be missed.” This coach will spend the week looking at how his team can hold onto the ball for longer and in that way aim to keep the tackle count below 100.
Gary Gold worked under Brendan Venter at London Irish back in 2001. Learning the ropes from a Domkrag coach sets the tone for your whole career. Gold was part of the coaching team under Pieter de Villiers from 2008-2011. This was the Springboks in their Domkrag golden era.
Gold has had no success while being a head coach of London Irish, Newcastle Falcons and Bath. The owner of Bath Rugby Club, Bruce Craig, insisted that Gold leave the club in December 2013.
Gold turned up at the Sharks and what happened next couldn’t have been made up by even the best comedy writers. Gold had been coaching in Japan and was appointed the Sharks head coach only days before the start of Superugby. Sharks fans were still smarting from the sudden dismissal of John Plumtree a few seasons earlier by new CEO John Smit. The appointment of a head coach as a season is just getting underway exhibits no forethought or planning. Another howler of a mistake by the Sharks administration.
Reports were coming out that Gold had walked into a situation where his support coaching team was already in place before he arrived and was not the team he would have chosen had he been giving time to plan.
The Sharks have an excellent Superugby pedigree for a South African team although they have yet to win a title, they have been runners up on 3 occasions and have been in the play-offs consistantly through the years. Under Gold the team was in disarray and underperforming. It emerged that Gold was under the impression that he was being hired to be Director of rugby and not as head coach. How can there be this confusion at such a big business as the Sharks franchise? It is farcical that a professional outfit can have this kind of misunderstanding.
By the end of the Sharks 2016 Superugby campaign the Sharks players appeared to be no longer interested and their behaviour and body language spoke volumes of how much they didn’t want to be part of this situation any longer.
On 27 October 2016 I woke up to read reports that Gold had resigned as ‘Director’ of rugby. The report says Robert du Preez will be in charge of the Sharks Superugby campaign. If I was Robert du Preez I would be looking for clarity on what my appointment is. Judging from what I saw of the Sharks in the Currie Cup where they were coached by Robert du Preez, I think Shark supporters must buckle up for more Domkrag rugby.
Gary Gold is a man filled with passion for rugby and envelopes and immerses himself in his job as a rugby coach but as with so much business in South Africa it is more about whether the guy is likeable and less about if he can do the job.