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Neil Best Column: If Ulster Wanted To Appoint A Scrum Half With Little Coaching Experience – Why Not Ruan Pienaar

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

Ireland achieved this last weekend -Ulster didn’t and England didn’t. Yet we probably learned more about Italy’s likely finishing position in this year’s Six Nations than we did of either Ireland or England.

Eddie Jones is right to be worried that his team’s luck may run out -because if you are constantly winning games at the death by narrow margins you will inevitably lose in the same way.

The Scottish renaissance continued under Vern Cotter despite a narrow loss to France in Paris.

Scots fans must have been relieved every time the referee called advantage over -so poor was the Scottish scrum. But notwithstanding the huge problems in the scrum and the significant injuries they really took France to the wire.

Scotland don’t want Vern Cotter beyond the end of this season – how Ulster could do with his experience.

With the formal announcement on Monday that Jono Gibbes is to be Ulster’s new Head Coach, it seemed that the only qualification for a job at Ulster these days is to have previously worked with Joe Schmidt – and even Cotter ticked that box – that is until Dwayne Peel was announced two days later.

Wales v Italy - RBS 6 Nations

Now it seems the key qualifications are not to have previously held the role to which you have been appointed, or have any previous connection with the club. True of Kiss, Gibbes and to a lesser extent Peel.

If the Ulster hierarchy wanted to be celebrated for appointing an out of contract international scrum half with under a year of previous coaching experience a Ruan would have gone down better with fans than a Dwayne.

It’s my understanding that Ulster didn’t intend to make either announcement this week but were bounced by reports in the Sunday Times following decisions at Clermont. Even on Tuesday Les Kiss was quoted by the BBC as saying that the review of staffing was still ongoing and a further announcement would be made in the coming weeks, which in fact was 48 hours later with the statement on Peel.

How can a review be “ongoing” when appointments are being made? Well put simply it can’t. I hope that both Allen Clarke and Neil Doak were afforded the respect of being given prior notice – not least given their lengthy service at Ulster.

Ulster Rugby v Scarlets - European Rugby Champions Cup

I also sincerely hope Jono and Dwayne succeed in their new roles, but sport is littered with successful assistants or players who took a step up only to fail.

In many ways, it’s a sad reflection on how Ulster Rugby see themselves that they are somewhere for new guys to try and make a name for themselves -it’s also hard to see success at Ulster for either of these two being anything other than a stepping stone elsewhere.

For me Ulster Rugby is a big enough club and set up to command standing and experience.

Let’s not forget the Prince; “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

Neil Best, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.