“I remember speaking to Andy Farrell, the England rugby player and coach and I was amazed by what he described.”
Rio Ferdinand has recalled a meeting with Ireland manager Andy Farrell in which the pair compared coaching instructions in rugby and football.
Writing in his 2014 autobiography #2sides, Ferdinand described meeting the current Ireland rugby head coach and hearing him talk about team meetings in rugby, and how they contrasted with similar situations in football.
The former Manchester United defender said he was ‘amazed’ after his discussions with the then England coach revealed how the players would ‘run’ team meetings in rugby – in stark contrast to his experience with Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Andy Farrell took over from Joe Schmidt after the 2019 World Cup.
“We take it for granted in England that football coaches and managers give instructions, and players do what they’re told,” Ferdinand wrote.
“That was certainly the case with Ferguson. He would tell us stuff and we’d be quiet, accepting what he said and taking it as gospel.
“This is what happens: we’re told exactly what to do, and we go along with it and trust the manager’s judgement on a lot of things.
“But in other sports it can be very different. I remember speaking to Andy Farrell, the England rugby player and coach and I was amazed by what he described.
‘The players seem to run those meetings’ – Ferdinand
“Basically, when they have team meetings about tactics and stuff in rugby the players seem to run those meetings.
The coaches say their piece but it’s the players who make most of the running. Everyone gives their opinion and then they decide – as coaches and players together – how they’ll play.
“Whereas in football, we’re all used to the tradition that the manager decides the tactics and the players adhere to what we’re being told.”
Ferdinand won six Premier League titles and a Champions League throughout his Man United career. The 42-year-old played for England on 81 occasions.
He retired in 2015 after a season playing for QPR and now works as a pundit with BT Sport and the BBC.