A former British and Irish Lions coach says Scott Robertson shouldn’t be appointed in a coaching role for the team’s tour of South Africa next year.
Last week the Crusaders coach revealed that he approached Warren Gatland about joining him on the British and Irish Lions tour.
Robertson said he’s keen on getting international coaching experience after missing out on the All Blacks’ top job to Ian Foster.
Speaking on the Country Sport Breakfast on Gold AM last week, Robertson said he asked Gatland about joining him on the tour and offered his services.
“Once I missed the All Blacks job I actually reached out to Gats and asked him if I could go on that tour,” he said. “I thought, look if I can’t be involved with the All Blacks, what’s the biggest thing – or actually bigger in its own self the Lions tour – to get involved.
“I said ‘look, I would love to help you if I can’.”
In a column for the Daily Telegraph, former Scotland and Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan had praise for Robertson but didn’t think the Lions was a place for him.
“Robertson is probably one of the top four or five coaches in world rugby right now. And his interest should serve as a wake-up call to one or two people who are questioning the future of the Lions as an entity,” McGeechan wrote.
“But I don’t think Gats should give him a role. As flattering as his interest is, and as great a coach as he undoubtedly is, I don’t think it would be the right call.
“Robertson would bring something different, undoubtedly. He would bring knowledge of Super Rugby and of South African rugby.
“But he doesn’t know northern hemisphere rugby intimately. He doesn’t know the players who will be involved intimately. Next years’ tour to South Africa is going to be one of the shortest, most intense tours of all time. There will be such a quick turnaround between the Premiership final and the first match: just one week. It is absolutely vital the Lions hit the ground running. And for that they will need coaches Gats knows and trusts, and who know the players.”
Robertson, who led the Crusaders to their fourth straight Super Rugby title this year, said his request has been taken to Lions management.
“I’m waiting. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Obviously there’s a lot to work out with Covid and the British and Irish Lions tour. But we had a couple good conversations since and he’s got to go through his line of management to make a decision.
“Something that really drives me and motivates me is probably to learn and understand. Obviously Gats has been hugely successful at the international level as a coach so he’s a person to learn off and also allows me to not have to go offshore to actually coach and get that international experience.”
The 45-year-old, who many believed deserved the All Blacks coaching job over Foster, said he’s happy at the Crusaders but is open to coaching overseas in the future.
“From a personal note, I’ve got a young family. I would love to stay with the Crusaders as long as I can but I’m also quite wary about timing of roles on the international market and what happens over in Europe.
“One of the reasons I played in France is so I could learn French to coach there one day. If that’s the right thing and the right timing, then great. I’ve got some options.”
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