ACT Brumbies

Melbourne Messiah and The Virgin Mary

Melbourne Messiah and The Virgin Mary

The national media have been fawning all over Rod McQueen’s appointment as the new Super 15 Melbourne Rebel’s dual-hatted Head Coach/Director of Coaching like it was The Return of the King.

This soft focus coverage has glossed over a couple of obvious facts that I thought rugby tragic’s like you and me might like to cogitate over.

Firstly, we know that Rod McQueen is a legendary figure in our game having overseen the gestation and birth of the ACT Brumbies after earlier succumbing to NSW’s grubby internal rugby politics.

The Brumbies evolved into a rugby powerhouse with a uniqueness and culture all of their own for which the rugby public should be eternally grateful.

Next up, in 1997 he took over a dispirited and defeated team from the late Greg Smith and forged it into a top notch Wallaby outfit which ‘brought back Bill’ in ’99.

And, at the top of his game after defeating the 2001 British & Irish Lions he decided he’d had enough and returned to his extensive business interests.

His autobiography was one of the better reads around and he’s certainly an impressive bloke. Isn’t it great that they’ve managed to induce him into actively returning to the game?

Why is it that in the back of my tiny little brain a bell is tingling and allowing me to think seditious and un-Australian thoughts like…..this guy last coached a rugby team nigh on A DECADE AGO!

Hasn’t rugby changed a fair bit since then? How can he be up to date with the latest tactics and trends without being hands-on since that time?

Isn’t the way the game is played, coached, trained for, refereed and administered markedly different from the 90’s when he predominantly coached? The answer to this rhetorical question is, yes it has.

I know he’s had some involvement here and there, in particular with the Stellenbosch ELV experiment, but he hasn’t actually coached at the top level since 2001.

He was coaching in an era when Sir Clive was known only as Clive, John Hart was at the helm of the All Blacks and Jean-Claude Skrela for Les Bleus. It seems like an eternity ago?

The international coaches from that era who are still around like Smug Henry, Gatland and Mallet have been coaching continuously since that time so obviously retain some currency.

Actually, you’d remember the Brumbies smashing the Sharks in the Final of the Super 12 in 2001 with Eddie Jones and Rudolf  ‘Kamp Staaldraad’ Straeuli in charge respectively?

I wonder whether there are any Super 12 coaches from that era still about? John Mitchell was coaching Waikato (before his All Black gig), Bob Dwyer the Waratahs and Mark McBain the Reds. Jonah Lomu was still on the park….

The resurrection of McQueen is a bit like bringing Jeff Kennett back as the Premier of Victoria. You might briefly think it had potential but you know it would never be the same second time around.

When McQueen was last coaching it was a different ball game. The continuous recycling thing was the name of the game. And didn’t he have some cattle in those days to carry it out?

Do you lose your edge if you haven’t been coaching for a decade? Does your tradecraft diminish over that length of time? How do you keep currency when you don’t have a team?

If I was, for instance….a nurse dude and I’d been away from the profession for a decade…would I be able to just rock up and start again in ICU? No way José.

You couldn’t even nurse on a general ward without some sort of transition or bridging course. This obviously isn’t nursing but I’m trying to make a point here!

Oh, and another thing, his ‘first assistant’ and supposed successor has never coached rugby at Super 14 level before. It’s rugby’s equivalent of the Messiah and the Virgin Mary!

I was going to say Damien who, because those outside of Sydney would probably have never heard of him.

He’s a very promising club coach from Sydney Uni who’s actually had some coaching experience with Suntory in Japan (I know what you’re thinking) and was an ACTRU coaching and development manager.

McQueen’s style has always been as a ‘Chairman of the Board’ type coach, according to those that played for him, overseeing the bigger picture whilst his many assistants undertake the actual hands-on coaching.

I suppose that might be an indicator that there’ll be more assistants on their way. It would be nice if they could secure someone like the talented Todd Louden as his ‘left hand man’.

McQueen certainly knows what it takes to set up a Super 14 team from scratch and in conjunction with Brian Waldron, who was a very clever appointment, should have the show on the road with all their corporate knowledge.

We all know McQueen is very talented and capable but I thought he might be better off with just one hat, like that of Director of Coaching or something, and leave the hands-on Head Coaching stuff to someone more attuned to today’s circumstances.

ACT Brumbies
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Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

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