2020 has been a tough year for new coaches.
Following last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, seven of the world’s tier-one nations have parted ways with their head coaches. Just Argentina, England and Scotland have kept their top dogs in charge and, unsurprisingly, those three nations have all had reasonable success in the new year.
Argentina, of course, have just recorded their first-ever win over the All Blacks. England, meanwhile, were crowned Six Nations champions earlier this month while Scotland bested France – arguably the competition’s most impressive side – and came within a whisker of upsetting England and Ireland.
For the sides that are transitioning between coaching set-ups, the new season has been considerably tougher.
That’s been especially true for new Wales coach Wayne Pivac, who was appointed to the role following back-to-back finals appearances as head coach of Scarlets.
Wales’ fifth-place finish in the Six Nations was followed up by a disappointing showing against Ireland, leaving Pivac with two wins and six losses from eight matches in charge.
Former All Blacks hooker James Parson, who earned his first provincial selection under Pivac, is confident that the Kiwi can replicate his predecessor’s success – provided the team’s given time to adjust.
“If you look at the other teams that are doing quite well in international rugby, they’ve actually had consistency from the World Cup coaching group through to now,” Parsons said on the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “I don’t think it’s panic stations, but I understand Wales as a nation… If you think [Kiwis are] rugby mad, they are rugby, rugby mad. They’ll live and breathe it more than Kiwis at some stages. They’ll be wanting instant results, just like our fans do as well. They want instant results, they don’t want two test losses.
“There’ll be a bit of pressure but knowing Wayne Pivac and the character he has and the experiences he’s had, he’ll draw on that and he’ll come out the other side, I have no doubt.
“I don’t know how he’s dealing with it, obviously, but I know he’s a fighter and he’s had a lot of experience with Fiji, Auckland, Harbour, a number of other teams. He’s had a lot of success in Wales with Scarlets and that’s how he got the job, through that success.”
Pivac has taken over from fellow Kiwi Warren Gatland, who coached the Welsh side for a record 12 years. Parsons suggested that any change in personnel might take time to bed in, but that will especially be the case when one man has been in charge for the same team for such an extended period.
“I just think it just needs time … If you see all the teams that have had change, it’s still going to take time. The Wallabies are still learning with [Dave] Rennie, that’s going to take time. Fozzie’s [Ian Foster] come in [to take over the All Blacks] with a new coaching group, that’s going to take time. Wales, on the back of a long tenure under Warren Gatland, have now got Wayne Pivac and he’ll have system changes – and that takes time for players to understand, buy into or be able to execute.”
Head coach Pivac has overseen just two victories – against Italy and the Barbarians – since he succeeded Warren Gatland last November.https://t.co/RYOzclxlnu
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 14, 2020
Parsons’ co-panellist, Sky Sports commentator Jeff McTainsh was reading from the same hymn sheet.
“It’s tough to go into a role, like Wayne, and try and get results in a place like Wales where the expectation is huge,” McTainsh said. “I just don’t think it’s possible. You have guys saying ‘Get Scott Robertson in there,’ or something like that … Just because you’re having success with one team, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to success with another team.
“I just think it’s time and I think they just need to wait it out. I think we’ll see better results going forward for Wales, it’s just time in the saddle.”
Following their loss to Ireland, Wales will need to record wins over England and Georgia if they’re to have any hope of playing the Autumn Nations Cup final.
Listen to the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below:
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