The Stick, The Carrot, or The Sticky Carrot?!

If you ask Charlie Hodgson about former Scotland Forwards coach Mike Brewer he will probably throw a string of expletives at you. Those two just didn’t get along, did they?!

The reason Hodgson gives is that Brewer, more often than not, liked to talk down to players and criticise their work. Some coaches like to scream; some like to whisper. I have experienced the hair dryer and I have experienced the gentle sermon and I can honestly say I don’t know which I prefer. I have had my ego massaged (*cough!*) and I have been told “if this was your job, you would be sacked!” It was my job. At the time…  Each approach has had varying degrees of success.

Right now Edinburgh have more of a scrunchie than a hair-dryer and it doesn’t seem to be working. Moffat has an air of the old games master about him and it is an integral part of his personality. He likes to focus on the positives and the potential. Edinburgh are not realising their potential.

It is, of course, easy to point out the lack of resources our pro teams have, but the right manager can get a lot out of limited resources. Look at the Scarlets; their team isn’t exactly jam-packed with mega-earners but they are second in the Magners League and top of their HC pool. Their team has belief.

Moffat is capable of building great rapport with his players. Just look at how close-knit the 7s team was when he was in charge. Yet things aren’t working out for Edinburgh, and time seems to be running out for the smiling Rob Moffat. It perhaps doesn’t help that he is backed up by Tom Smith, a man internationally famed for being incredibly gentle off the park. When the Edinburgh players get a bollocking do they really believe it? There doesn’t seem to be anyone there to give the team a boot up the Lozada.

On the other hand Glasgow are not faring much better. Two places off of the foot of the table, they need wins. The problem is that things appear to have stagnated in Glasgow this season. With the exception of Harley no players are having a storming season. Those that progressed last term have not kicked on yet. Is this a management issue? Lineen flits between critical anger and high praise when he is interviewed. You never really know what you’re going to get. Behind him Shade Munro is a pretty jocular character. They should have a fairly good balance but perhaps it is just one of those seasons where things don’t click… for no good reason.

A coach once told me that when you were dealing with a team it comes down to how you treat individuals. “Some players need a cuddle, some don’t.” Mike Brewer wasn’t fond of cuddling anyone.

So if all out abuse is the ‘wrong way’, does that mean there is a ‘right way’ to deal with your squad? Is the ‘right way’ to whisper sweet nothings all the time, as a mate, or is it to swing from scalding to soothing? Maybe sometimes all a team needs is a fresh start. A new approach. Right now I think the only man in Scotland who is capable of answering these questions is Andy “Take the Points” Robinson, and I reckon he will be holding his secrets close to his chest as we near the 6N kick-off in February.

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

One comment on “The Stick, The Carrot, or The Sticky Carrot?!

  1. Roz Galloway on

    From experience, I prefer to have a coach that will always shout at you, alongside one that is consistently patient.

    In regards to Glasgow & Edinburgh, the 1872 matches this season have shown both teams’ passion, but it does concern me which coach that was for…..

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