'This really stings': British Rowing under fire after former head coach Jurgen Grobler joins France

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jurgen Grobler has been coaching rowers to Olympic titles for more than four decades.
Jurgen Grobler has been coaching rowers to Olympic titles for more than four decades.

British Rowing have come under yet more fire following news that former head coach Jurgen Grobler has signed a contract with the French Rowing Federation (FFA).

Three-time Olympic champion Andrew Triggs Hodge reacted to the FFA’s announcement by questioning British Rowing’s “strategy” heading into Paris 2024, adding that news of Grobler’s move to France “really stings”.

Grobler, who had coached crews to Olympic medal success at every Olympics he attended since 1972 and who oversaw a golden period for British rowers in the era of Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, resigned last summer less than a year out from the Tokyo 2020 after younger athletes were consulted on his coaching style.

British Rowing proceeded to have its worst Games for 45 years, failing to win a single gold medal for the first time since 1980.

The fallout in Japan swiftly turned toxic, with men’s eight bronze medallist Josh Bugajski accusing Grobler of “destroying” athletes with his harsh training methods, while others, including Bugajski’s own team-mate Moe Sbihi, rushed to defend the German.

Grobler’s former rowers were almost unanimously behind the German with Triggs Hodge telling Bugajski that it was “time to accept your own failings and limitations and not blame others - and not in this way. You are just destroying yourself and those around you.”

The team’s under-performance in Japan led to a review, which was followed earlier this month by the resignation of chief executive Andy Parkinson after six years at the helm. Speculation continues to swirl over the future of performance director Brendan Purcell.

Purcell acknowledged in Tokyo that his team did not meet expectations given the £24.6 million in Lottery funding it received over the five-year Olympic cycle.

Intriguingly he also cast doubt over whether the wider cultural shift in Team GB - an attempt to distance themselves from the bullying scandals that have blighted several Olympic sports - was working.

“If the athletes don’t want to put themselves in that brutal environment, then we pack up shop,” he said. “We need to bring in the right athletes who want to take that step. Then we take them to the next level.”

Grobler, 75, who has signed a contract to be the FFA’s Executive High-Performance Consultant, begins his new role on Monday.

“I’ve seen coaches move countries before, but this one really stings,” commented Triggs Hodge on Twitter. “Sorry British Rowing, I don’t see how this strategy is going to put our athletes in the best possible position in Paris.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting