by Niall Moran
Doctors differ, and patients die is a harsh but true realism in life. In sport, the realism is no less accurate, but the delivery softer; coaches differ and players move on.
Each coach, in any sport, but in rugby union in particular has a blueprint on how they believe the game should be played. Some players fit into that framework and develop, others find that their strengths are wasted in certain coaching environments and so struggle to excel.
Every rugby coach has their own personal style, values and unique view on rugby coaching that make up their coaching philosophy. It is important for any coach to think about their style and try and develop it fully into an all-round philosophy.
Coaches at every level have a coaching philosophy – they just may not know it! Everything that informs your style of coaching forms part of your philosophy. A strongly articulated philosophy of rugby coaching will give you a strong framework within which you can develop the rest of your coaching activities, and ensure consistency of message for your players.
Being clear about where you intend to go with rugby coaching can make sure everyone is on the same page from the start and makes sure you stay true to your own goals and do not get distracted by a “victory at all costs” attitude.
It can also give you a clearer idea of where you want to go and how best to achieve your goals. The self-reflection involved in developing your philosophy can give you a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses as a coach, and where you might want to improve, or look for help from others.
My coaching philosophy is simple, I want to give all those that train with me a “platform to perform”, essentially, I want them to be the best they can be, at the level they are playing, be that 1st XV or Under 14s, it should not matter.
When articulating my philosophy, I try and think of the values I believe are most important while coaching. This is shaped by my own life experiences, coaches I have worked with and respected (Charlie Couper, Eddie O’Sullivan, Geoff Moylan, Tony Dolan), my own personal beliefs, and looking at how other coaches outside of rugby coach. In other words, I ask myself the question “Why do I coach the way I do?”
Having a philosophy is one thing, staying true to it is another, therefore it is important to carefully review and improve by way of improvisation, your coaching beliefs. Coaches with longevity like Alex Ferguson, Brian Cody and Ian McGeehan have had to reinvent themselves over the years. This ability to, almost chameleon like, move with the times is probably their greatest achievement and a reflection of the importance of a coaching philosophy.
Doctors may lose patients, but with a clearly communicated coaching philosophy players need not move on.