Northampton Saints boss Chris Boyd 'feels deeply' for sacked Matt O'Connor
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 06/09/18 12:42pm
New Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd spoke exclusively to Rupert Cox as part of Will Greenwood's latest podcast, and part of the agenda was the current coaching climate in rugby.
"People say there's also only two types of coaches: one that's been sacked and one that's waiting to be sacked." - the words of Chris Boyd as he sits among the stands at Franklins Gardens.
In the week that Leicester Tigers sacked head coach Matt O'Connor one Premiership game into the season, England's Eddie Jones called it "a sad day for rugby".
The Rugby Coaches' Association described it as "grossly unfair" and part of "a disturbing trend".
Boyd, having moved to Northampton from the Hurricanes in New Zealand over the summer, is of a similar thinking...
"It's really tough," he says of O'Connor's sacking.
"We don't know the politics or what goes on behind closed doors but to be in a position after one game and then lose that position, you would assume there was some tension or something behind the scenes.
"I don't get how suddenly a board or organisation can support a coach and then after one performance decide he's not the right guy.
"I feel deeply for him and his family and it's very turbulent.
"But at the end of the day, much like a player - though a player can get dropped and stays in an environment for a period of time and sees his contract out - for a coach, you're pretty exposed and he's suffered the wrath of the board and gone and I think that's really tough."
In the wake of O'Connor's sacking, and the decision by Ealing Trailfinders to dispense with James Buckland after one Championship game, there is a growing opinion rugby is becoming more like football.
The Premier League's customary expelling of the majority of their managers every second year does appear to be creeping into the oval game within the northern hemisphere.
Does Boyd believe the Premiership is becoming a bit like the Premier League?
"The hard bit around that is the bit you can't control but that's the nature of high-performance sport and I guess part of the enjoyment of the challenge is that you know there's a guillotine hanging over your head," Boyd said.
"People say there's also only two types of coaches: one that's been sacked and one that's waiting to be sacked.
"It's a bit cynical but I've enjoyed really good support here from Mark Darbon, the CEO, and John White, the chairman, but I'm not naive enough not to say it's early days and we're still in a honeymoon period.
"But there is no job security and when you open your eyes, if you wanted a job that's got good security, you certainly wouldn't want to be a high-performance coach because it's about as insecure a job as you can get."
Another aspect to the increasing trend of short-term coaching lifespans is the effect such a process has on the families of those working within the sport.
O'Connor for example moved from Leicester in 2013 to Ireland as he took over the Leinster job, before moving back to Australia to coach the Queensland Reds and then back to Leicester in 2017.
Such movement and unpredictability must take its toil?
"It's an unsociable job in a lot of ways," Boyd said. "I've got a family wedding in Australia next week that I'll miss. I've probably missed as many family weddings, functions, 50th, 21st [birthday parties] as I've managed to get to.
"It's certainly not a Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, and you can't pick and choose when you do things, which is the downside of it.
"But I've got to say, when things are good and you set your alarm for 6am, you always wake up at 5.55am and there's a spring in your step and you want to come to work because you know it's going to be good fun and a buzz and you really look forward to the contest.
"So there's a Yin and a Yang in this, like in all situations - an upside and downside."
Click HERE to listen to the full episode of the latest Will Greenwood Rugby podcast, with topics including club v country in England, Chris Boyd's full interview, New Zealand's rugby exodus, Brad Shields, Beauden Barrett and an interview with Eddie Jones!