Warren Gatland had planned a farewell with his coaching team in Dublin after the World Cup, experimenting with a few drops of black material to mark the end of 12 years together. Black is the word in a week when his right-hand man, since 2008, Rob Howley, was sent home when an investigation into whether the Wales attacking coach had violated betting regulations began.
That’s when Gatland makes his money. No one is avoiding losing a key training figure less than a week before the opening match of Wales in a tournament they believe they can win as if it were all the time. But with a replacement, Stephen Jones, already called, the talk is about using adversity to forge a stronger team spirit.
Wales did so during this year’s Six Nations, when, before facing Scotland, news of merger talks between the Scarlets and the Ospreys leaked and, as a result, the potential job losses of the players. Welsh Rugby Union was forced to hold meetings with the players and the whole conversation was trying to resolve the mess rather than preparing for the match at Murrayfield.
Wales won 18-11 and claimed the Grand Slam, but there is a difference between individuals who set aside their own future concerns and those of regional teammates and lose a coach who is the tactical driver. of the country in attack for so long. That would have mattered less than a generation ago, but today’s players have become dependent on coaches to provide them with a structure to operate. When Gatland tried to loosen the reins and strengthen his accusations in 2010-11, the results suffered and some former internationals began. asking for your resignation. His players preferred an outdoor blanket.
South Africa lost its attacking coach, Swys de Bruin, last month after he quit for medical reasons. Head coach Rassie Erasmus quickly found a substitute, but not a peer to peer. “I talked to the players and the consensus is that we don’t want a new attack coach,” he said. “The feeling was that bringing someone into this role now with new ideas would be destabilizing at this last stage of preparations.”
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Then Felix Jones arrived from Munster and received a defense. “Players were interested in having more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to help bring down the opposition,” continued Erasmus. Jones will be in his first training session on Thursday, bearing the title of attack coach.
Stephen Jones’s approach will be different from Howley’s. Under Jones, the Scarlets were known for their freestyle approach. Jones, a former Wales captain with 107 international appearances, was due to start in Wales after the departure of Gatland and his coaching staff and he was part of their team for the first four years before retiring in 2012. Given Now close contact between the national team team and the four regions, the transition will not be bumpy. He will not have time to tear what has been established. It will come in the Six Nations.
Stephen Jones will not have time to change existing plans for Wales at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Ben Evans / Huw Evans / Shutterstock
However, the precedents for Wales are not auspicious. In 1995, less than three months before the start of the World Cup in South Africa, WRU fired Alan Davies after a five-nation wooden spoon campaign. His lieutenants, asked to stay, departed in sympathy and protest. A triumvirate of club coaches took over and Wales failed to reach the knockout stage.
In a broader sporting context, Spain’s riots before last year’s football World Cup are instructive. They fired Julen Lopetegui, his coach, 48 hours before the opening match against Portugal, following the revocation that he had agreed to become Real Madrid manager after the tournament. A substitution was called, but one of the favorites failed to reach the quarterfinals.
Gatland is known for its ability to minimize stress and strain disturbances, but this is different. While on sabbatical with the Lions in 2017, Howley took over as interim coach of Wales and there were different attack coaches at the November internationals and the Six Nations. > The plan backfired. Wales were defeated by Australia and defeated Japan with a late goal before losing three league games.
Therefore, for Wales, it is a step towards the little known. They may not miss a step, but just having their captain Alun Wyn Jones out of the injured World Cup would have been worse news for Gatland. It can only continue independently.