The Penney Drops *cringe*

So, it’s official. To our surprise, Axel hasn’t got the job, but will continue to earn his coaching spurs under Rob Penney for the next 2 years, at which point he will presumably get the big gig.

This makes Connacht the only Irish province that will not be coached by someone dismissed as an unheralded Kiwi next season – we can only hope Penney and Anscombe emulate Joe Schimdt’s considerable achievements at Leinster.

The first way to view Penney is as a sacrificial lamb who will get to soak up all the ire of the fans by continuing Ludd’s work of the last 18 months and retiring the Liginds one by one and then buggering off to let Axel take over once the newbies have been transitioned in. In the 2 years of his contract, Penney will be forced to retire Horan, Stakhanov, Leamy … and Radge. The first 3 should be easy, but O’Gara is unlikely to go quietly – apart from anything else, he is still head and shoulders above Ian Keatley or anyone else who is available for Munster.

However, we hope and suspect that his work at the Crusaders Academy may have been an important factor – the Munster academy is perceived as being behind Leinster and Ulster right now, and even Connacht have had more under-20 representatives in recent years. – some of the players who have come through from the Academy to the Super Rugby team in Penney’s time there are Owen Franks, the Whitelocks, Matt Todd, Kieran Read, Tyler Bleyendaal and Sean Maitland.

Or maybe it’s because he coached Peter Borlase in the 2009 Air NZ Cup (now ITM Cup) – if Munster can actually get the Kiwi Irishman on the pitch and playing it would save a hell of a lot of sweat once BJ gets kicked out.

Penney will be picking the rest of his coaching staff in the weeks to come. We note with interest that Brian Ashton is now a free man…..



  1. Amiga500

     /  May 2, 2012


    “The munster academy is percieved as being being Leinster and Ulster”

    I think you meant ‘being behind Leinster and Ulster’…

    Often my spelchekor doesn’t pick up these things either!

    I take it Penney does not have free reign over the coaching appointments (i.e. if he doesn’t get on with Axel could the beverly hills cop be sent?!?!)

    • Good spot – fixing ….

      I think Axel as forwards coach was probably a condition of employment!

  2. Fuzzy Dunlop

     /  May 2, 2012

    I love the nicknames, but how do you get from Donnacha O Callaghan to Stankhanov?

  3. At first glance, it seems like a very positive appointment. Penny is not just a winner as a coach but with four consecutive ITM’s, he’s instituted a culture of winning. As you point out above, he’s got a pretty decent record of bringing young players through at Canterbury and the Munster age profile is getting lower. He’s the NZ Under-20s coach, a position previously held by the much coveted Wayne Smith. The contract length suits both parties-Munster were of the view a few months ago that it’s too soon for Axel to take over and they’ve stuck by that with their succession plan in place. Penny will, presumably, be looking to up his profile down south for a SuperRugby or national job (I think it was Thornley who wrote that the perception in New Zealand is that Penny has been passed over for SuperRugby head coach jobs).
    It’ll be very interesting to see where things go from here; who will be on the coaching ticket with them and if/who he signs.

  4. conchurl

     /  May 2, 2012

    Two things:

    1. Penney will have a free hand with regards to the other coaching vacancies, i.e. backs/attacking coach, scrum coach, conditioning coach.

    2. Penney isn’t taking the job to elevate his profile re a Super Rugby job. The only reason he hasn’t gotten a head Super gig so far is down to NZRU politics. He is a mate of Robbie Deans and has been a casualty of the bad blood between Deans and the two Steves, Tew and Hansen.

    • Whatever about the politics of the NZRU and the reasons the Penny hasn’t gotten a SuperRugby gig before, it would be naive to think that he’s not coming here prove himself at a higher level than he’s been coaching at till now. His “profile” may be the wrong term-maybe “sticking it to them” would be more appropriate!
      He has ambition and his successes haven’t been recognized in NZ, so there should be a hunger on his part and that bodes well for Munster.

  5. Anonymous

     /  May 2, 2012

    Yes…more things to the boys and girls at Mole Towers to moan about at Munster for the next 2 years. Who would ye have picked???

  6. Amiga500

     /  May 3, 2012

    Another one of the liginds has called it a day.

    Wally has hung up the boots:

    (Happy retirement big man)

  7. Penney’s a great coach and highly rated domestically, but he has been unlucky to be bypassed for Super Rugby top jobs. He has been given the taks of coaching the NZ u20 side, which isn’t given to average coaches. Also he has prepared many of the top players who have taken to Super Rugby like a duck to water.

    In temrs of super rugby experience first Todd Blackadder got the Crusaders top job and then Blackadder’s assistant at the Crusaders, Mark Hammett got the Hurricanes job.

    The reality is that their are a lot of top coaches in NZ, so he had to go where the work was on offer. I think you’ll see he’ll do a good job with Munster.

    By the way I have my own rugby blog too if you’d like to take a look.

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