“I think to expect loyalty from a player and not give it back as a club is wrong.”
Rory Best has admitted his frustrations with professional clubs who “want it both ways” in regards to loyalty within the sport.
The former Ireland and Ulster captain was speaking as part of Specsavers’ Healthy Hearing campaign and touched on the recent axing of Mike Brown from his long-time club Harlequins.
The former England international revealed that he was informed that he was no longer needed at the club in a “four-minute meeting” and admitted that he was unhappy with how Harlequins had treated him.
Best was disappointed to see what had unfolded with Brown, and accused some professional clubs of acting like “a business” only when it suits them.
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/y9MbQfmTs7
— Mike Brown (@mikebrown_15) April 3, 2021
Rory Best: Loyalty works both ways for clubs.
“The biggest problem I have with the Mike Brown thing is that I sometimes feel the clubs want it both ways. They want to use ‘Oh, it’s a business. Sure Mike Brown – that’s a business [decision]’. Yet they expect a degree of loyalty from the players,” Best explained.
“So, if a player leaves ‘they’re disloyal.’ So, I think if they could just turn around and go, ‘You know what? It’s a business. If a player goes a player goes. We’re going to do the same at the other end. If we’re not going to renew someone we’re just not going to renew them.’
“At least then you know where you stand. I think to expect loyalty from a player and not give it back as a club is wrong.”
Rory Best on Mike Brown: ‘There’s a human, man-management way of doing it.’
While the Ulsterman understands that difficult decisions have to be made at times, Best argued that someone like Brown who had spent a huge amount of time at the club should be at least let down gently.
“With Mike Brown it’s 16 or 17 years. He has come through that club. When you think of Harlequins in this modern era he is one of the first names that spring to mind,” Best commented.
“It’s not that he expects to be given a contract as a player or that you expect to be given a coaching role, or something off the back of it because you’ve been there for a length of time. I understand that’s not the way it works.
“But you also expect to get a little bit more than a five-minute chat in the coach’s office when everyone else is in and people are basically waiting to start a meeting.
“I think even if you take him for a coffee or a pint or whatever it is… I just think there’s a human, man-management way of doing it.”
‘The other provinces aren’t full of people who know the Irish system.’
Best is aware that not every player can hope to stay on with a club in a coaching capacity after their playing career has ended. He believes, however, that the high number of former players in coaching roles has played a crucial role in Leinster’s success.
In contrast, most of Ulster and Munster’s coaching staff came through rugby systems outside of Ireland, something which Best believes may hamper the teams when it comes to getting the best out of their own provincial structures.
“Everyone talks about their academy and all these players and how lucky they are to have the schools. But if you look at what Leinster have surrounding them in terms of former players – obviously with Leo [Cullen] being the top of that,” Best started.
“But when you look right through it – John Fogarty is there, Girvan Dempsey was there for a bit, Felipe Contepomi, Denis Leamy and Trevor Hogan in the middle of it.
“You’ve a lot of ex-players in that environment. Obviously, you’ve got Stuart Lancaster being the guy with all the experience to help all that. Whereas I think if you look at all the other provinces they’re not inundated with people that know the Irish system.
“Maybe not necessarily from their own province. Denis Leamy was Munster. But they understood the Irish system and they understand how you get the best from this Irish system.
“It’s not necessarily constantly signing players. It may be, it may not be. I think that Munster and Ulster especially – I think they probably need to learn a little from that. That’s not to say that they have done it wrong. Leinster might just have been lucky that there were people in their system to promote.”
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