Statement on Kidd's successor expected today

 

FOLLOWING the resignation of Ireland coach Murray Kidd on Tuesday night, no successor, either on an interim or permanent basis was announced by the IRFU yesterday.

Although it had been stated on Tuesday night that an announcement was likely to be made yesterday about the coaching arrangements for the Ireland team to meet France in the International Championship, there was either a change of mind or plan yesterday.

Late yesterday afternoon it was announced that no statement would be issued but it is now anticipated that one will be mad& this afternoon.

Time is not exactly on the union's side in this matter. Whatever appointment is made it is likely to be on a short term basis and that the man called in will be asked at this stage to do no more than help out in the preparation of the team to meet France.

While one appreciates that nothing conclusive could be done until after Kidd resigned following his meeting with IRFU officers on Tuesday, there were indications that some provisional plan had been formulated in relation to the coaching position, even on a short term basis. That was given credence when it was stated on Tuesday night that an announcement could be expected yesterday. As yet it has not been implemented and the union is not in a position - or chooses not - to make an announcement.

There was apparently a lot of hectic activity yesterday and ongoing meetings. The IRFU election sub committee is the body responsible for naming the coach. That is a three man body of chairman, Eddie Coleman, IRFU junior vice president, Noel Murphy and last year's union president, Syd Millar. They met yesterday and another central figure in this issue is, of course, the Ireland manager Pat Whelan.

As Whelan will have to work closely with the coach, consultation with him is imperative. That obviously took place yesterday as Whelan, too, was in Dublin. Kidd's appointment had to be made with Whelan's agreement. Indeed when Kidd was appointed coach Whelan was effusive in his stated enthusiasm. Kidd's dismissal, while out of Whelan's hands, might not have come about had Whelan stood firm in the belief that Kidd was the man for the job. Whelan has, however, publicly stated his regret at Kidd's departure.

One accepts that the task of coach and manager are different, and the coach's ultimate responsibility is what happens on the field and the team preparation. But there is collective responsibility for the manager, coach, selectors and players. The team administrative set up is one that must surely be examined in minute detail. But however unsatisfactory that set up is, Kidd took on the coaching job on a full time basis knowing the job specification.

The names of those who might step into the coaching position even on a shot term basis have been suggested. One man who has figured in that speculation is Brian Ashton, who after being highly successful as coach with the Bath club resigned from the club on Monday. Ashton is, too, primarily a backs coach as is Kidd. If an approach was made to Ashton, then there was a complication in that area yesterday. It came when England coach Jack Rowell stated that he now wanted Ashton to be part of the England set up.

Rowell and Ashton worked together at Bath from 1989 to 1994 when Rowell took over the England job from Geoff Cooke. In the time Rowell and Ashton were together at Bath, the club four league championships and the cup three times. Ashton was, last night due to attend a rugby writers' dinner in London.

A former All Black, Mike Brewer, has been coaching the Ireland forwards this season but holds no official position. Whelan stated when Brewer was first called in to assist that he would help out if and when required and that he had not been appointed assistant coach. That position has not altered although Brewer has been a regular at the Ireland sessions. He may well continue with that tenuous agreement.

The announcement today if it comes, may do no more than state who will be in the coaching set up for the match against France. The team to meet France will be chosen on either Saturday night or Sunday morning. The selectors must also name the A team to meet France at Donnybrook tomorrow week.

Meanwhile, there is still no place in the London Irish team for Ireland number eight Victor Costello. He is named as a replacement on the side to meet Gloucester in the league at Sunbury on Saturday.

Tim Ewington has been recalled at scrum half and Ken O'Connell, Brian Walsh and Kieron Dawson are in the back row.