Scott Robertson chats Crusaders and challenging All Blacks application process
Last Updated: 21/04/20 4:59pm
Crusaders' break-dancing head coach Scott 'Razor' Robertson chats exclusively to Sky Sports about how applying for the All Blacks top job was such a big challenge.
Speaking as a guest on this week's episode of the Will Greenwood Podcast, Robertson also reveals how he always wanted to be a coach and how for a boss honesty is always the best policy.
When the Crusaders beat the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in 2017 to win an elusive eighth Super Rugby title, Robertson, then aged just 42, became the first person to win as both a player and a coach.
He was also the first to clinch the competition away from home on South African soil. Four Super Rugby crowns as a player, three as a head coach - Robertson knows as well as anyone what goes into building a winning side…
"I took over a championship winning team, no doubt about it…but what I'm proudest about is I got the best out of that team," he says.
"We had best tries, defence, offloads but we also had a lot of fun - weddings, babies, graduations you name it - we were connected.
"The biggest thing is - I'm honest with them. If I need to have a conversation, they know I'm doing it for the best of the team.
"If I'm myself, they can be themselves too. I try to be really genuine…if I start getting judgemental and not being who I am the boys will see through me."
Robertson also has some clear ideas about how the All Blacks came unstuck against England in the World Cup semi-final in Yokohama last year.
"They would admit I think that they were quite predictable in the end," he added.
"They were very easy to read, especially in how they attacked. England made them kick when they should have held the ball, and then England's power game just did them over the 80 minutes."
Steve Hansen stepped down as head coach of the All Blacks straight after the 2019 World Cup and speculation began immediately as to who would be his successor.
After Jamie Joseph pulled out of the race to stay on with Japan, it turned into a two-horse race between Robertson and Hansen's long-term assistant Ian Foster. Foster would win the day.
"I had bought a new suit for the presentation and in then end I just thought: 'I'm just going to be myself', and then the questions just came at me.
"And they were great - I wanted them to challenge me. Graham Henry was on the interview panel and was really deep. He put me in a corner with a couple of questions and he wouldn't let me out.
"It was quite a challenging moment and made me think. I left like I maybe hadn't articulated myself as well as I could have or should have.
"I knew they were coming, and I just did my best. I walked out of there thinking they knew what they were going to get and how I was going to coach it.
"And I believe I had the rugby public knowing that I was going to give everything and that a potential change was what the All Blacks needed.
"I was clear that I felt I could make a real difference and bring my own personality. I'd coached 80-odd per cent of the players and had a lot of success with them.
"I outlined who I thought would be there for us at the next World Cup in 2023 and where we needed to develop some players, some depth. It didn't go my way - but I respect the process.
"If it was about the continuity thing, and if that's why Fozzy got it, then great, I'll get it another time."
Robertson also talks about some of the best players he's coached and played with. Perhaps it's no surprise that former flanker and twice-World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw gets a mention:.
"We were playing Ireland in Dublin and we were losing. It was just before his [McCaw] 21st birthday - and he was on debut, he hadn't even played Super Rugby yet.
"We came back and won and he got man of the match. I already knew he was good, but right there and then, I knew he was great."