Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

09th July 2012 15:03

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Sonny Bill Williams at a Chiefs press conference

Moving on: Sonny Bill Williams

This week we'll mostly be concerning ourselves with coaching tirades and moving All Black, Sonny Bill Williams.

As a coach, life can vary from the tippermost toppermost high to the deepest of lows. You have a myriad of uncontrollable things to manage, but sometimes it just works. Others it does not.

Eddie Jones has had one of those careers. With Australia, it worked for a long, long time. So long in fact, that it was common knowledge that one of the reasons he eventually parted company with the ARU was his inability to move on from what had been a successful generation of Wallabies.

Armed with a Japanese wife, a good mastery of the language and a mission statement to make sure that he would select actual Japanese players rather than repatriated foreigners, you'd have thought Jones would have found a happy landing in Japan as they build towards 2015 and their own World Cup in 2019.

But it seems there are early teething problems...

Not only those, but it seems the tide of public opinion that found fault with the employment of foreigners as Japanese national rugby players does actually have a forum in the press.

You have to feel a little sorry for Eddie. He has had the best intentions. But he's also perhaps found the learning curve in the lower tier a little steep.

So feel sorry. But also a little inspired if you had any aspirations of being any kind of serious coach. Five games down in the job, would you have done that?


Sonny Bill on the move again. Could we be scathing? Perhaps we could be frustrated at his constant state of flux, perhaps we can be irked with his conniving manager who appears to control his loyalty. Or at least to know the price thereof.

But when push comes to shove, we might also be tempted to admire a fantastic athlete. A young man who appears able to excel at any discipline.

When Sonny Bill left the Bulldogs, many portrayed it as a run for the bucks, a defection. But in truth, here was an athlete who might be remembered as one of the best of all time, who was looking for an environment in which he could learn and be nourished, rather than one in which he would go stale. The Bulldogs set-up at the time was rotten, rife with corrupt values and unhealthy stardom worship.

That was the attitude which took him away, which took him to France, back to New Zealand, into the AB squad for the World Cup and which now takes him, via Japan and the boxing ring, back to rugby league and into an environment where he continues to challenge himself.

He'll make some money in Japan (who doesn't these days), but then being as he's back to league next year anyway, who gives a stuff?

What might be more concerning to AB fans is the rating of his prospects of nevertheless being in the AB side for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Exclusive: as rated by Graham Henry: "Yeah, I would think so..."

Your thoughts?


Is Gavin Henson's signing for London Welsh:

a) A desperate ploy from a young team to have a big name on board because the RFU/Premier Rugby took so bloody long to sort out promotion that there was nobody else left to sign?

b) A shrewd piece of negotiation on the part of Henson's agent, taking advantage of a new top-flight team that didn't know better?

c) The result of Lyn Jones being determined to finish off what he started and turn Henson into a consistent professional player?

d) A sub-clause of an impending announcement of London Welsh sponsorship by a major brewery?


And finally, we cannot wait for the quips set to come from Bill Beaumont as the new RFU chairman. at last: someone with a little charisma!

This is the man who once dryly remarked to Peter Winterbottom, upon faced with the full force of Erica Roe's double-Ds bounding across Twickenham's turf: "There's someone with your arse on her chest".

We have zero faith the RFU will be anything but a political and administrative minefield until the Rugby World Cup is long gone, but at least we might get some genuine in-house humour with it...

Loose Pass compiled by Richard Anderson

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