Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
20 Nov 2018
1:22 pm

Assessing the shortlist for the Bulls coaching job

Heinz Schenk

The union formally announced that there are three men in the running for the job. But which one is the best candidate?

Victor Matfield in his first match as assistant coach at the Golden Lions during the Currie Cup match between Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on August 12, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

The Blue Bulls on Monday officially narrowed down their search for a new coach to three candidates – even if the identity of the trio was rather an open secret.

Bok legend Victor Matfield, stand-in Bulls coach Pote Human and Southern Kings mentor Deon Davids are the men vying for the position.

The Kings, however, did release a statement that Davids is contracted to the franchise till 2020 though that hardly means he’s not in the running.

Here are the merits of each candidate.

MATFIELD

Current job: Employed in private sector; Analyst at SuperSport

Coaching pedigree: Forwards and attack coach for Bulls (2013), Forwards coach for Lions (2017 Currie Cup)

Accolades: None

Pros: He’s known for possessing one of the sharpest rugby brains in South Africa, something that stood out during his 127-Test career. If he’s serious about taking the job, he’d certainly be keen to be given an extended run to show his credentials. Having Erasmus as an overseer could provide him with a valuable safety net.

Cons: Sometimes accused of still having too many interests outside of rugby. Suspicions persist that he’s possibly a former player who’s not effective at transferring knowledge to players in a formal environment.

HUMAN

Pote Human during the Vodacom Blue Bulls training and press conference at Loftus Versfeld on October 11, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Rynners/Gallo Images)

Current job: Stand-in head coach of the Bulls (2018-present)

Coaching pedigree: Head coach of Blue Bulls (2005-2006; 2018), Assistant coach of Bulls (2005-2008, 2017-2018), Head coach of Griquas (2012-2013), Forwards coach of Ricoh Black Rams (Japan, 2008-2010), Head coach of Tuks (2014-2017)

Accolades: Currie Cup title (2006); Varsity Cup title (2017)

Pros: Knows the structures put in place by former director of rugby John Mitchell inside-out. Vast experience and also showed that he can be his proverbial own man during the Currie Cup (a good example being his handling of Embrose Papier). Genial nature seems suited to a young group.

Cons: Lacks star power and perhaps also proven experience as he’s never been a head coach at Super Rugby level.

DAVIDS

Deon Davids (Head Coach) of Southern Kings during the Guinness Pro14 match between Dragons and Southern Kings at Rodney Parade on September 08, 2018 in Newport, South Wales. (Photo by Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

Current job: Head coach of the Southern Kings (2016-present)

Coaching pedigree: Head coach of Southern Kings (2016-present), Head coach of Boland (2007-2009), Assistant Coach of Junior Springboks (2009), Assistant coach of Emerging Springboks (2009), Various age-group positions.

Accolades: None.

Pros: Intimate knowledge of what is required to coach at Super Rugby level, especially with limited resources. Balanced coaching philosophy. Apparently more than willing to work in conjunction with Erasmus in terms of national interest.

Cons: Untested in bringing a stronger group of players together and stamping his authority. Not necessarily familiar with the more subtle aspects of union politics.

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