Mounting pressure on national team coach not for the faint-hearted
Your captain took a calculated gamble. He talked with his lieutenants and rolled the dice. He declined penalty kicks and attacked. As the Americans say, the dice came up “snakes eyes”. Those in the cheap seats, whose character would fry in the white-hot intensity of Test match rugby, sipped on their beer and criticised you with venom.
You understand captaincy is a skill. Like any skill, leadership is developed over time. Your captain made a call, that with hindsight he regretted. Hindsight is a luxury Tests matches do not afford. You know he will learn from this lesson and, in time, he will become a great leader.
All of this is not helping you today. The future is not your task. Your job is to win games now and that is not happening.
You live or die by the decisions of those you select to play the match. It is obvious that those decisions are not going well and rugby people are saying you have got a lot wrong. You sense a change in the dynamic. At a critical point perception becomes reality. The perception was always you were the master of your environment.
Now that perception has disappeared.
You understand the coaching maxim. When you become the media story for winning, look for a contract extension. When you become the media story for losing, look for a new job.
There is a feeling of unease sitting low in your belly. It is not pleasant. It’s hard for you but it’s harder for your family.
You detest and resent their pain. The media are relentless in their speculation and innuendo. Despite all your efforts you know the unease will seep into the players and the team. At this week’s press conference you know the media are going to hammer you about keeping your job. After everything you have given to the game you don’t deserve this.
Now a horrid type of voyeurism has sucked you into the heart of just another crappy reality show – the blood sport of watching professional coaches fight for survival in losing teams.
All you can do is prepare to make the tough decisions for the team’s next 80 minutes. It could be the 80 minutes that rescues your career or maybe it’s already too late for that. Time will eventually tell.
Aren’t you fortunate that you are only imagining this scenario?