Ex-Hurricanes coach has got his first taste of Northen Hemisphere rugby following the end of his successful tenure as a Super Rugby head coach. The new Northampton Saints head coach offered some Southern hemisphere thoughts on everything from scrummaging, Premiership relegation to player self-belief in a round-table interview with The Times.
“I have only been here for a short period but already I have an inkling that the northern hemisphere players sell themselves short around their abilities,” said Boyd.
Player-lead leadership groups are a central part of New Zealand Rugby, who play a large role in game-planning in collaboration with the coaching staff. Boyd spoke about the “opportunities to be more involved” indicating this could well be one of the things he brings to the Saints.
“If the athlete here was given the freedom to play a bit more, to be a little bit more involved in what is going on . . . I think maybe there have been some shackles on and if they were taken off there would be a better result.”
Although he won’t be trying to mirror the south exactly, with tailoring required to suit the players at hand.
“New Zealand, South Africa and Australia have been up the top not because they play the right way but because they play the right way for the athletes they have got. Up here it might be a different recipe.
“There are parts of the game that are played in the southern hemisphere that can be brought here but the north does sell itself short.
One part of the game that caught Boyd’s attention was the scrum, which is more of a focal point to Northern Hemisphere rugby.
“I watched my first scrummaging session at Northampton and thought, ‘Goodness, gracious me’. Back in New Zealand the scrum is used to start play, so you hit, lock it out, get the ball out and away you go. Well, the s…-fight I saw last week, it is a genuine contest up here. It is not regarded like that in the southern hemisphere.”
Boyd believes the promotion/relegation aspect of the Premiership may hinder the development of players, as teams look to a conservative brand of rugby to survive.
“While relegation does give a mental edge around the fight to accumulate points, I do wonder if it stifles invention and development. When you look to grow kids, you go, ‘This is such a crucial game, I can’t afford to lose it’.
“There is a question when you are trying to grow and develop in the whole environment whether having a relegation mechanism is the right thing to do.”
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