Loose Pass: Musical chairs in the coaching world including Eddie Jones’ shock switch, Owen Farrell’s availability and red mist in Europe

Loose Pass Credit: Alamy
Loose Pass Credit: Alamy

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the musical chairs in the coaching world, the RFU’s way of saving Steve Borthwick’s face and an observation on the rash of red cards…

Keyser Soze?

We’re nowhere near the other football’s culture of knee-jerk sackings or cash-splashing hire-and-fire, win or go policies yet, but the tumult among the coaching hot-seats less than one year before the World Cup has been extraordinary.

The man who nearly took Wales to a Rugby World Cup final gets a last-gasp chance to try and do it all again. England consigns seven years of planning from one of the game’s great orchestrators of World Cup campaigns to the shredder and installs a comparative apprentice. In France they are already lining up the post-World Cup appointments (at sub head coach level), irritating the clubs whose buy-in they so desperately need and treasure. Seemingly nobody in New Zealand is happy with the coach the All Blacks have, yet the popular choice for heir apparent doesn’t want the job. Yet. Argentina is not yet one year into Michael Cheika’s tenure after Mario Ledesma called time. So much for all those three and four-year plans eh?

And now the greatest plot twist of all: the seven years of planning and experience all paid for by the RFU has been saved from the shredder and is now heading home to Australia for a second stint with the Wallabies, 20 years on from having lost excruciatingly to England in the final of Australia’s World Cup. Much has been made of the possibility of England and Australia meeting in a quarter-final; the final is also there as a possibility if both teams win their pools. As eye-opening endings go, it would make the final scene of The Usual Suspects look like a Christmas special of Neighbours. Maybe it was Eddie Jones‘ plan all along: fit a few teams up, ruffle a few feathers in others, then return to Australia and take it all.

Jones does seem to wear teams (and journalists) out over time, but he is also a master of the ‘new coach bounce’ and as has been written in Loose Pass before, he has a very, very good record at World Cups, be it either making top teams fulfil their potential or making lesser teams over-achieve. Loose Pass questioned the decision to let this particular talent go by the RFU when it was made; the lack of some sort of gardening leave or non-compete clause in the termination agreement is bewildering (although you can clearly imagine Jones, eyes blazing, negotiating it away at the time).

There is a lot of work to do in Australia, but Mr. Jones has stacks of previous in giving teams exactly what Australia need at the moment: a bit more dog, some corrective surgery on a few shoulder chips and a bit more chaos among the opposition. He also needs to settle on a fly-half and work out why so very many Australian players get so very injured so very often. But he’s home, back among Aussies, and his waspish competitiveness will surely get the public behind him and turn Australia’s volume up a bit. For the neutrals, this promises to be a lot of fun.

Compound interests

As anticipated by Loose Pass last week, the disciplinary system has cracked down on Owen Farrell just enough to make sure that he can prepare and participate fully in the Six Nations.

There was the intrigue surrounding whether Steve Borthwick would need to do a little chicanery in order to have Farrell serve the third of his three-match ban the week before England play Scotland, but no need: the RFU had his back.

Just to make sure discipline is completely and rigorously enforced, the RFU confirmed that Farrell would be available for Saracens’ match against Bristol on January 28. That is a game for which Farrell would never in a month of Sundays be available for were he not suspended for it, as he would be named in the England squad and a part of the Six Nations preparations.

It’s ridiculous. What’s the point in even having a disciplinary process when the stakeholders in the sentencing are also stakeholders in the team for whom the player plays’ interests?

Red mist

No fewer than five red cards in the European Cup this weekend is not a good look – aside from the highly amusing meme of a referee doing some personal training where each drill finishes with him flourishing a red card.

Cobus Wiese’s for Sale against Toulouse sparked quite the debate among the BT Sport commentators as to how Wiese could have handled the situation better, including Sam Warburton’s assertion that perhaps Wiese should have targeted the leg of Dorian Aldegheri? Surely that would have involved Wiese coming in from the side?

Anyway, various options were tossed back and forth, while Wiese was quite rightly unanimously censured for tucking his arm before the contact, which is never a legal bit of technique. The merits and risks of the crocodile roll were touched upon, as well as the body position Wiese might have adopted to have been more effective.

But it was the lady in the commentary who came up with by some distance the best option when she said: “Perhaps the right thing to do there is to see the player over the ball like that, see it as lost and just to let the ball go” (or very similar words to that effect).

Difficult to inculcate into a competitive player’s head to be sure, but we’d be spared numerous head shots and red cards and TMO interventions and so much other drudgery if that message started getting across. We’d see some better games too.

READ MORE: England: Five talking points from Steve Borthwick’s 36-man squad as Premiership form rewarded

The article Loose Pass: Musical chairs in the coaching world including Eddie Jones’ shock switch, Owen Farrell’s availability and red mist in Europe appeared first on Planetrugby.com.