Following Stuart Lancaster’s recent revelation on Radio 5 Live that he was interested in coaching down south, Hefin Jones looks at three British coaches who would be a hit in Super rugby.
The former Scotland and Ireland pivot has won rave reviews for the great work he has done with Glasgow Warriors since taking the reins in 2012. In his first season at Scotstoun he led the Warriors to a semi-final spot where they narrowly lost 17-15 to eventual winners Leinster. Playing an exciting and expansive brand of rugby, Glasgow topped the try scoring charts, running in 66 tries.
The following season saw the Warriors go one better, reaching the final where Leinster once again proved their nemesis, defeating them 34-12. But in 2015 Glasgow reached the summit when they defeated Munster 31-13, running in four tries to win their first ever Pro 12 title.
Although European progress has been hard to come by, two fourth place finishes and two third place finishes, in some tough groups, show they’re heading in the right direction.
Currently in third position and top of the try scoring charts, the Glaswegians look set for a fifth consecutive Pro 12 play-off and have a great chance of repeating their 2015 triumph. Townsend’s attacking philosophy would fit right into Super Rugby and his stint with the Natal Sharks in 2004 means he also has Super rugby experience.
Welshman Young has overseen a remarkable transformation at Wasps since becoming director of rugby in 2011. From near receivership and relegation in his first season to a move from Adams Park to the bigger Ricoh arena in Coventry in 2014, to a first European Cup semi-final since 2007 this season as well as a first league play-off spot since 2008, its been quite a journey for the 48-year-old.
The former Wales and Lions prop has moulded an excellent forward unit with the likes of James Haskell, George Smith, Joe Launchbury, Bradley Davies, Carlos Festuccia and Nathan Hughes providing their dangerous backs with a solid platform to work their magic.
Playing an attacking, high tempo game the likes of Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Charles Piutau and Frank Halai have been racking up the tries, currently topping the league’s try-scoring charts with 65 touchdowns, including eight last weekend against Worcester.
Through Young and owner David Richardson, who saved the club from receivership and who has invested heavily in the club, Wasps have returned to the top table of European rugby.
A Heineken Cup semi-final, EDF Energy Cup title and two Celtic League titles during his time at the Cardiff Blues – Young would do a good job down South.
Since taking over as head coach of the Exeter Chiefs in 2009, the ex-lock has done a remarkable job. After leading the Chiefs into the Premiership for the first time ever in 2010, the Sandy Park outfit have gone from strength to strength.
In only their second season in the top flight, Baxter led them to a fifth place finish, ranking above the likes of Bath, Gloucester and Wasps and earning a place in the Heineken Cup. After a credible eighth place finish in 2014, the ex-farmer once again took them to a fifth place finish, taking notable scalps such as Northampton, Saracens and Bath along the way. And all of this through nurturing home-grown talent such as Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie and spending modestly.
A first ever European quarter-final appearance, which saw them agonisingly go down 25-24 to Wasps at the death in a thriller, third place in the league and nailed on for a first ever play-off appearance, the Chiefs have established themselves as one of England’s best sides.
With a hard edge up front through the likes of Thomas Waldrom, Dave Ewers, Moray Low, and Cowan-Dickie, exciting backs such as Will Chudleigh, Nowell, Lachlan Turner and the returning Slade have been to able to express their attacking instincts.
This willingness to attack has seen Baxter’s men run in 58 tries so far, second only to Wasps who have racked up 65. Emphasising the need for a solid base up front and attacking teams behind, Baxter has succeeded in finding the perfect balance. His tactical acumen and attacking instincts would work well down south.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
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