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Podcast: Episode 199 – Toonsday Clock

On this week’s podcast we review Scotland’s Six Nations and ask whether Gregor Townsend might have run his course as Scotland coach or whether the problems lie with the players.

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The Scottish Rugby Podcast brings you the best in informal chat and discussion about Scottish Rugby. Each week during the season we put out a 40 minute podcast suitable for all listeners, covering all the latest news and key analysis of the big matches. 

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If you would prefer an ad free version of the podcast as well as a weekly bonus episode taking a deeper – and some times swearier – dive into the main talking points you can sign up to our Patreon from just £3 a month. This also gets you access to our super secret social media group where you can chat to other fans of the podcast and rugby in Scotland.

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4 Responses

  1. I can’t imagine many people have ever thought, I fancy a few beers lets head to Why Not.

  2. I typed this up in response to a tweet after the game and it grew arms and legs, so I didn’t post it. Having listened to the pod I thought some of you may be interested since I have a professional interest in organisational & team culture and have studied it to a degree.

    There are a lot of parallels between business leadership and sports leadership although, with coaches for example, they have the additional responsibility for team tactics etc.

    For me, the concern is not that the players went out or even that they ‘disobeyed’ the coach to do so. My concern is that the culture in camp is so poor that they felt content to let their teammates down.

    Organisational culture was described in 1982 by Deal & Kennedy as “the way we do things around here”. It’s a shared understanding, ethos and set of values that all within the organisation live by. A strong culture is one where everyone buys into these values of their own volition, not because they’ve been ‘told’ to do so.

    The strongest team cultures are also self-organising. In a strong culture, the team ‘police’ themselves. They don’t need to be ‘told’, it’s simply the way they do things in that team.

    Several players, most of them in the senior leadership group, going out on the raz the week of a major match says one of the following to me:
    a) The culture has made that okay.
    b) The culture is so weak that they didn’t feel it was wrong (or not wrong enough).
    c) The culture is toxic to the degree they either didn’t care or were in ‘open rebellion’ mode.

    Point a) is clearly not the case as they’ve been ‘told off’ Which leaves only b) or c) as possibilities. Either of these is troubling.

    We can point to the fact that Hoggy has a part to play here, and he does. However, if the culture has also lost the team leader, the problem is fairly deep set.

    A great scholar on organisational culture, Edgar Schein, said “The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.” I agree with that statement and, if we accept that, then the problem, whatever the root cause, sits firmly and squarely on Toony’s shoulders.

    1. To expand on that a bit. I think Joe Schmidt set the culture for the Ireland team that still pervades today. The senior players pass that culture to the incoming players and it pervades their setup. The coaches since Schmidt have benefited from that and can concentrate on tactics etc.

      With the England setup, leading up to 2003 they had a very strong culture. To be fair to Woodward (not something you’ll ever hear me say elsewhere!) I think he got that right. I think it was Johnson in his biography who said that the team basically coached themselves and woodentop had nothing to do with it. The fact he thought that is possibly a testament to the ‘self organising’, ‘self policing’ culture that Woodward created.

      It’s been too long for them now though and they turned over that team too quickly for the culture to continue; and successive coaches have failed to recreate it. It’s probably the reason that Eddie Jones only does really well for a couple of years with teams. In 2 years you can make some ‘lightening’ changes but you can’t really change and embed culture and when existing culture re-exerts itself you’re lost.

      Cockerill is another great example. The culture at Edinburgh was toxic. He changed that almost instantly. It was exactly what they needed. Mike Blair is now benefitting from that because the culture is strong enough that he can concentrate on the playing tactics.

    2. Hoggy refused to focus on 5 seconds from an 80 minute game. But that event turned the game and we went back to the way we do things around here.

      Scotland was a resilient side last year, there were bumps on the road, but they rode them, the way they got ahead and closed out for example, was professional.

      I suspect Townsend will remain and be told to fix it. A new broom would sweep clean , however , why should a new coaches first task be to clear out, not the best way to start ! I think a new captain is a big step (don’t do it lightly) . He needs to build players around him that will help him build a culture and not undermine him. Just my opinion.

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