Egg read a very interesting article by Peter O’Reilly over birthday cake on Sunday (he’s 21 again) – the crux of the article was how the bean-counters at Old Fart House are concerned that Ireland’s desperate brand of rugby might impact the bottom line. It’s a valid concern – €75 to see us bitchfight the Pumas? – but something we found equally as interesting was something that wasn’t elaborated upon in the piece - the fact that the 60-0 in Hamilton went unremarked upon at the AGM.
We wonder – is this because the IRFU see themselves as having a personal stake in Deccie, and that criticism of the national team’s results is inherently critical of the union. It’s classic amateur thinking – in a professional organisation, when a vacancy arises, the best candidate is appointed, and after that time, their success or failure depends largely upon how they perform in the role (all provisoed on the assumption they receive adequate support within the organisation and such).
Compare this thinking to how the RFU operated with Johnno. Now, we aren’t saying the RFU are amazingly effective, but they have been whipped into some form of professional shape by Woodward and by the need to negotiate on an equal footing with the businessmen who run the Premiership.
Johnno was hired to succeed Brian Ashton despite having limited coaching experience, but once he got the job and got his preferred backroom appointed, he was on his own with a remit to make England tough again. Results-wise he did ok, and certainly no worse than Deccie – he brought England to a Six Nations championship win and won his RWC11 group – but it was perceived that he was too close to the players and he wasn’t the man to lead England on. So he got canned. The RFU didn’t consider it their business to be embarrassed that they had to let go someone they appointed, they just moved on. Such is life.
In the case of Deccie, it appears to be acceptable to the union that he presides over the worst result in Irish rugby history and is reduced to taking pot-shots at one of the provinces for being unsupportive. All available evidence points to him being in an untenable position, yet the IRFU are content for him to continue as Ireland coach for this season.
It looks from the outside like they see their success as wrapped up in his. Are they reluctant to fire a coach who delivered a Grand Slam, just as they congratulated themselves on appointing him at the time it was won? Is it related to the fact that a selection committee still exist, where IRFU mandarins review Deccie’s plans for each game? It seems highly unlikely that Deccie’s contract is going to be renewed, so why play the waiting game? If Declan Kidney’s days are numbered, better to start moving forward now than wallow for another year in stagnation. It’s a ruthless world out there.