Friday, 14 March 2008

The Curious Affair of Warren Gatland and the RFU

Through admittedly gritted teeth I must say "good luck" to the Welsh in their bid for a Grand Slam this afternoon. Wales are by no means an outstanding team (at least not yet), but are certainly the most competitive of the teams in the 2008 Six Nations and, assuming they don't implode against France, will be worthy champions.

Wales also have, without doubt, the best coaching team in the tournament and what makes this all the more galling is that it appears that this same coaching double act of Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards could easily have been coaching England during this Six Nations. According to The Sun newspaper yesterday (yes, I read all the highbrow publications, don't you know) the "RFU elite" are said to be furious after discovering new Wales head coach Warren Gatland made 3 bids to land the job of England head coach, all of which were rebuffed by the RFU Director of Elite Rugby, Rob Andrew.

First reactions? Well, the story did, after all, appear in the The Sun - which hardly has a reputation for uncovering the truth - so I pretty much dismissed the story as the usual sensationalist nonsense. However, a trawl through a well known London Wasps message board uncovered the following comment on the story penned by a character known as "Millwall Wasp":

"Gats did NOT make three bids, HE was approached by the RFU when it was clear that Andy Robinson's role had become untenable, they(the RFU) flew to Australia to meet with him. Discussions took place about Gats taking the role Squeaky [Rob Andrew] occupied but Gats wanted to be a 'hands on' coach. They (the RFU) approached him again early into Squeak’s tenure and enquired about his receptiveness to coach England. He was more than receptive but as a caveat, he wanted his own backroom staff and would want total control of team affairs, without interference from a non 'hands on' person. The RFU declined that proposal on two grounds 1. that the appointment of the backroom staff under Andy Robinson had two more years of contract to run, and to terminate such would cost a fortune. 2. That the role that Squeaky held was not negotiable. Needless to say the deal was dead in the water. After the World Cup 2007, Gats made it clear that he was looking for a more 'high profile' position, and in doing so had discussions with friends within the players structure of England that he would be available for discussions if England were inclined to open dialogue with him. This message was passed on to Squeaky by a number of players including two that I know of from other prem clubs. Squeaky decided that he would totally ignore this information and let Gats go to Wales. The rest is history. I can assure you that the above are the facts."

Hmmm. I have to admit that I've no idea who this Millwall Wasp character is or how credible a source he might be, but he does seem pretty certain of his facts which, if they are indeed true, point to an own goal of disastrous proportions by the RFU.

1 comment:

Nursedude said...

Hi Flanker, Talented players are one thing, but, just like in business and the military, you just cannot overemphasize the importance of good leadership. The job that Gatland has done with Wales has been nothing short of amazing. Yesterday against the French, the Welsh just LOOKED like they wanted it more than Marc Lievremont's men. Wales should not delay in getting him signed up. If the Sun report is true, it might be a decision the English Rugby Union will rue for a long time.