All in the Scrum



Lam's arrival augments Kiwi influence

Pat Lam’s arrival in Galway in April will bring the number of New Zealand coaches in the four provincial set-ups to eight (and Lam may increase that by bringing an assistant). It prompted us to make some enquiries about the NZRU coaching structures and it turns out we are part of that structure.

The young coach who comes through the Kiwi schools or clubs system into the age-grade representative arena usually gets jammed in a bottle neck thereafter.

The NZRU recognised the need to find provincial positions for Mark Anscombe and Rob Penney in recent years but with no Super Rugby posts going, they advise their younger coaches to depart overseas. In fact, the New Zealand coaching booklet actually states their young coaches can improve their rugby education in Europe.

Same goes for Joe Schmidt leaving Auckland for France and now Lam, after his tenure as Auckland Blues coach ended in failure, is embarking on a well- trodden path.

Of course, the current and most recent All Black coaches, Steve Hansen and Graham Henry, also expanded their horizons as Welsh head coaches before coming home.

Warren Gatland is following the same route as Henry into the All Black job – Wales, a British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and then, perhaps, the top job.

Leinster Kiwis – Joe Schmidt, Jonno Gibbs, Greg Feek.

Munster Kiwis – Rob Penney, Simon Mannix.

Connacht Kiwis – Pat Lam, Tim Allnutt.

Ulster Kiwi – Mark Anscombe.

Munster on the red

Interesting decision by the Sky Sports schedulers yesterday. Their main lunch-time kick-off was Saracens versus Edinburgh even though the English club had already qualified from Pool One.

What made no sense was the guarantee of exciting television in Thomond Park as Munster went chasing tries against Racing Metro 92. The red button option did the pub lunch-time trade no harm, although it did create a few arguments with Chelsea and Arsenal supporters.

Springbok Smit calls for more investment in drug-testing

Presumably sparked by the Oprah Winfrey-Lance Armstrong interview last week, John Smit, the World Cup-winning Springbok captain, created an interesting twitter discussion about performance enhancing drugs in rugby.

“Drugs in all sport need to be addressed,” said Smith. “I know SARU has started to address drugging in schoolboy rugby so let’s hope our kids make good decisions in the future. Perhaps we need to invest more money in the testing process, who knows.”

This was a reference to the four positive tests for banned substances, including steroids, during Craven week – South African schoolboy rugby’s premier event – in 2011.

It was a hot topic in Ireland 12 months ago when the IRFU and Irish Sports Council confirmed that a testing process would be introduced in underage rugby. Testing has been done after the interprovincial games (under-18 and under-19) but there’s been no movement for testing after schoolboy cup matches.

When Smit was asked if he ever tested positive, he tweeted: “No buddy my biggest challenge was to try get smaller!!! My poor mother had to take my birth certificate to my schoolboy games!!!”

Bracken on sideThe Ireland women’s team, captained by Fiona Coughlan, began preparations for the Six Nations yesterday with a 39-7 victory over Spain in Ashbourne.

There is a new addition to the coaching ticket for 2013 with former Wasps and Ireland A prop Peter Bracken now assisting head coach Phillip Doyle as they seek to build on last season’s impressive campaign.

Time to heave

The Schools Cup is coming and it appears the aptly named Dublin South FM (93.9) will be there every step of the way. Heave - their schools rugby show - starts this Wednesday at 9pm.

Number of the week


Munster played their first Heineken Cup match in 14 years yesterday without Ronan O’Gara or Paul O’Connell. If the same statistic is rolled out for Simon Zebo and Peter O’Mahony in seven years, Munster will have a new pair of legends.

Quote of the week

"To finish undefeated and not be champions of Europe, it is useless.” – Clermont scrumhalf Morgan Parra states the main intent of Leinster’s conquerors.

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