With his usual enthusiasm, Scott Robertson is seeking International rugby coaching experience. And as is his way, he has taken the unusual step of offering his services to the British and Irish Lions coach, Warren Gatland.
The offer is a promise that if selected by Lions management, that Robertson will bring his Super Rugby success and an eagerness to learn. He would be an asset yet the combined group is representative of the nations involved, so what would make them select an ‘outsider?’
Scott Robertson seeking International experience
With the 2014/15 New Zealand Under 20 team, Scott Robertson coached them to success at the U20 Championship in 2015. That is his resume of International rugby coaching. Yet when combined with his terms with Canterbury and the Crusaders, those credentials are endorsed.
While most clubs would pay a high price to have Razor Robertson leading them, his only application for an International post was last year. Unsuccessful, it is now a driver for the appeal to Gatland, and the Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.
“Once I missed the All Blacks job,” Robertson told NZ radio station Gold AM, “I reached out to Gats and asked him if I could go on that tour.
“I said ‘look, I would love to help you if I can.”
That help would be as an assistant, in a role which, even while taking away from an Irish, English, Welsh or Scottish coach, would bring a fresh vision to the British and Irish Lions squad.
— #rugbyengland (@RugbyEng) August 22, 2020
Already having a New Zealand head coach, fresh from a season with Super Rugby, what would adding another person of the same ilk gain?
For some, the argument would be that it would duplicate any Kiwi ideas. And yes, two New Zealand visions would give heavier weight to Southern Hemisphere techniques and concepts. That might sway the Lions board from choosing to bring in Scott Robertson.
British and Irish Lions have big decision to make
“I’m waiting. We’ll see what happens”, Robertson concluded. His fourth Super Rugby title just bagged, those qualities will be judged against Gatland’s recommended group of coaches. Yet, the Lions board and Chairman Jason Leonard must balance the call for Robertson’s talent against those residing in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
They will have plenty of names to choose from. Premiership, PRO14 and even French Top14 leading coaches may all want the same International experience that Robertson wishes for.
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) August 22, 2020
Northern hemisphere pundits are split between supporting the claim of Robertson, and some not wanting to encourage more foreign investment in the adored Lions brand.
So should the Lions be seen as a ‘coaching creche’ for eager rugby minds? Or might it be better to sign names who will be motivated more by loyalty, and even prior Lions touring experience? To better provide mentoring and fellowship for the group [yet to be selected].
A big decision needs to be made.
One where the Lions could be the International position that adds gravitas to one Kiwi domestic coach’s resume. Or, it might choose to stay loyal to the involved nationalities. To stick with the local talent, and see Scott Robertson shunned one more time.
While that might be a waste of immense talent, no rugby supporter could hold it against the key Lions management decision. Popular opinion may not. So it must be balanced between deciding on credentials, and of affording one person ‘potential credentials’. One who is utilizing it for purposes, other than towards the British and Irish Lions long term ideals.
That is certainly a big decision for both the nominee and, for the delegates employed to make it.
Gatland will travel to the UK and Ireland before this autumn’s block of internationals, and is expected to have recruited some or all of his coaching staff by the end of the year.
Crusaders head coach has blessing from franchise boss
Ask about Robertson applying for the Lions position, Crusaders chief executive Colin Mainsbridge is happy for his head coach to take leave to join the 2021 tour. Mansbridge says the impact on the Crusaders would be ‘far greater if it was an International head coaching role’.
Scott Robertson is contracted with the Crusaders until 2022. He is one of the more talented and successful professional rugby club/franchise coaches operating. Having played for Perpignan in France, many believe he is destined to leave Christchurch in the next 12-24 months.
He told Gold AM, “I would love to stay with the Crusaders as long as I can. But I’m also quite wary about the timing of roles on the International market, and what happens over in Europe.
“One of the reasons I played in France, was to learn French. To coach there one day. If that’s the right thing and the right timing, then great. I’ve got some options.”
Until the coaching structure is announced by Warren Gatland, Scott Robertson’s option right now is to assist the British and Irish Lions in South Africa.
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