Super Rugby 4.7.2018 04:10 pm

Kiwi guru’s defence of Robbie Fleck shows how low SA rugby has sunk

Stormers assistant Paul Feeney. Photo: Gallo Images.

Stormers assistant Paul Feeney. Photo: Gallo Images.

Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney, argues the team’s head coach has been judged harshly. There’s a problem with that logic.

Fans might be steadily growing gatvol of Stormers coach Robbie Fleck and his poor results in 2018 but he can certainly bank on the support of his assistants.

New Zealander Paul Feeney, saddled with coaching attack and defence, was in a pretty fiery mood on Wednesday in fielding questions over Fleck’s future.

The Stormers occupy no-man’s land in being 12th on the overall Super Rugby log, having lost 10 of their 15 matches to date.

But Feeney is adamant results can’t be the only measure on which the Capetonians’ head coach is judged on, especially given how mediocre the rest of South Africa’s teams have been.

“The Bulls are on five victories, aren’t they,” he said.

“I wonder if that makes John Mitchell a bad coach? I don’t see that in the press. The Sharks are on six victories, I think? Is Rob du Preez now a bad coach? We’re all fairly similar.”

Indeed, South Africa’s Super Rugby campaign has been so bad in 2018 that the Lions – the local conference leader – has only won eight of their matches.

It validates Feeney’s argument that Fleck might be harshly judged but it also shows how low the baseline for evaluating performance has sunk.

“I’ve got no doubt that Robbie is a good coach. I’m right behind what he does. We’ve tried things this year knowing that 2019 was our year as a coaching group for our biggest push at winning the competition,” he said.

“I’ve been coaching for 25 years and I don’t see how coaches go from being pretty good to all of a sudden terrible the next. If every coach is scared of losing his job in his second year then nobody will ever try anything.

“I can either coach or I can’t; it’s as simple as that. If I have a season that was not as good as the season before, does that make me a bad coach? I don’t think it does.”

 

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