Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World

Don't blame Gatland, here's the real reason the Chiefs are 0-4

By Hamish Bidwell
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

More News More News

You would think the clown’s nose might be enough.

Sadly, there’s still an element out there who seek to lampoon and lambast Warren Gatland at every opportunity. To waffle on about ‘Warrenball’ and suggest Gatland is solely responsible for the Chiefs’ underwhelming results in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Let’s tackle the nose first. That was a disgrace, for which there is no defence.

It was embarrassing to try to cover those British & Irish Lions matches of 2017 and know what fools we all looked like.

Never mind the shameful precedent that had been set with Australia’s Michael Cheika the year before. There’s no excuse for international rugby coaches to receive that kind of media treatment, particularly in Gatland’s case.

The man was an All Black, whose contribution to the world game should be celebrated. Rugby is far, far better for Gatland’s involvement and he ought to be thanked for that, not mocked.

People like to think All Blacks fans are poor winners – let alone losers – and stunts like those Gatland and Cheika were subjected to only reinforce that view.

But, hey, the Chiefs are no good right now, so Gatland’s fair game again.

The Chiefs were fifth, with a game in hand over two of the teams ahead of them, when the real Super Rugby stopped for 2020. There was a regrettable loss to the Brumbies in there, before being pipped by the Hurricanes in a thriller but, all in all, the belief was that Gatland and company were travelling pretty well.

It’s nice to see Super Rugby’s Aotearoa incarnation, but it’s also (sorry Blues fans) entirely irrelevant. The matches are much-needed, from a variety of perspectives, but they’re really only exhibition games.

Next year, when the dust has settled and borders have hopefully re-opened, we’ll have a better understanding of the rugby landscape and where a Super competition might fit in.

In the meantime, you try winning with the tight five Gatland’s got.

Folk are forever trying to complicate rugby, but if your tight five are suspect and your set pieces are shaky, you will struggle to win.

The Chiefs don’t have the depth to absorb the losses of Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Nathan Harris, Michael Allardice and Laghlan McWhannell. Or even Tyler Ardron, for that matter.

Those playing in their place are all perfectly adequate and, in one or two cases, actually quite good. But most wouldn’t be on the park if everyone was fit and that’s all there is to it.

Does that make Gatland useless? Have the Chiefs appointed a dope? Of course not.

The Chiefs have lost their Super Rugby Aotearoa matches by one point, 12 points, five points and seven points and if that’s proof that Warrenball – whatever that is anyway – is a failure, then I’ll eat my hat. Or at least wander round town with a clown’s nose on.

I genuinely don’t know what it is with Gatland and don’t understand why some people dislike him so much and so often seek to discredit him. Does everyone who coaches against the All Blacks end up being treated that way?

Some of this stuff seems peculiar to Gatland, with people determined to look for fault or signs he’s thin-skinned. Not only are we going to put a clown’s nose on you mate, we’re going to condemn you if you don’t like it.

Well, Gatland’s not a clown. He might have a tight five that aren’t particularly dominant, but he remains one of the finest and most successful coaches this country has ever produced.

It wouldn’t hurt people to remember that.



Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
TRENDING Producing proper test match forwards not high on New Zealand's priority list proper test match forwards not high on New Zealand's priority list