Monthly Archives: July 2001

Good enough to win some silverware?

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Each summer we’ve seen changes of personnel at the Arms Park with big names joining the squad as the club tries to buy its way to silverware. But this summer has been different.

So far there has been no Muller, no Quinnell to bump up the sales of season tickets. This time the club is finally investing in a top class coach and in graduates of it’s vastly successful youth structure.

Of course speculation continues over the arrival of Iestyn Harris but this guy has never played a game of union at a serious level and he could become the most high profile flop in the professional era. We may have to wait until the end of September to see him in Blue and Black, if at all.

The confirmed signings so far of Matt Allen, Rob Appleyard and Adam Jones shows the club working to a sensible plan and budget. As there is the agreement between clubs and Graham Henry that international players will be rested the week before internationals, it makes no sense to sign current internationals.

Indeed, Bridgend could suffer as Dafydd James and Gareth Thomas may only play 10 games for them next season:

Dafydd James £130,000 for 10 games = £13,000 per game
Gareth Thomas £100,000 for 10 games = £10,000 per game

So perhaps at last Cardiff have adopted a more sensible recruitment policy. Should Jenkins retire and Sinkinson regain his place in the Welsh team, the only real loss to the first team will be Howley so this must be the season that Ryan Powell grabs his first team chance.

There is now cover in the back row if Martyn Williams gains international selection, with Appleyard covering both blind and open side, Crazy Dan back to full fitness, Emyr Lewis wheeling on and the superb prospect of Sowden-Taylor breaking in to the first team. With the small glimpses of the youngster that we were privy to last season, it seems that he is what Wales has been waiting for – a quick and strong open side who looks like a centre, but can play the ball on the ground. Perhaps his biggest attribute is his height – at last a tail gunner in the lineout. Watch out for a first team back row of:

Adam Jones will fill the second row vacancy left by the departure of Vile but unfortunately may also turn out to be a clone of the NZ departee. Jones will have to fight with the Tait brothers to be Quinnell’s partner and Cardiff’s biggest weapon in the lineout. Luke Tait was not sent to further his rugby schooling down under for three months this summer because that would have damaged his chances of Welsh qualification. The club has long looked after Luke with rumours abound that the signing of John was to ensure that Luke would also become a Cardiff player. With a second row pairing of the brothers, an athletic set of forwards is guaranteed, but the big games will always include Quinnell.

The departure of Geraghty to Caerphily has left Cardiff with only two first team hookers so watch out for the rise from the youth team of a youngster, or perhaps the return from Bristol of Saul Nelson, an ex-Cardiff Youth captain. With the signing of Gary Powell for another two years along with the excellent Fourie, Cardiff are well placed for young props. Captain Dai will be around for this season at least, but his first team outings will always be limited by injury and perhaps Welsh Captaincy. The biggest battle will be for the hooker berth with hopefully the rejuvenation of Humph and a sensible lineout policy allowing ALP to concentrate on the loose head berth. Unfortunately, this is unlikely as ALP is considered a hooker in the Welsh set up and he now must play there.

At half back Cardiff look very bare. Howley and Jenkins both have two years left on their contracts and will of course be the first choices, but the back up for both is inexperienced and very young. Powell must improve dramatically, especially his passing and box kicking. At outside half, however, Cardiff are struggling and perhaps the club’s lack of cover for Jenkins is the biggest hint that Harris is on his way. In the meantime, however, Rhys Williams will probably cover with young Nicky Robinson as back up. Goal kicking will be the problem as will Harris trying to learn the most difficult position on a rugby field. Propping may be technical, but poor decisions from the outside half berth will lose the team the game.

The centres have been bolsted by the arrival of Matt Allen, who is a big crash ball player in the mould of the excellent Muller. Hopefully, the South African will extend his contract beyond the end of this season but in the meantime his Rugby League experience will help Iestyn Harris through this season. His influence on Jamie Robinson last season was clear to see and perhaps this year he will also have Rhys Williams and Owain Ashman as outside centre partners. Nicky Robinson is an inside centre allowing plenty of cover there, but jersey 13 has only Jamie as its obvious incumbent.

The back three has many permutations, but early on in the season the make up depends upon the fitness of Craig Morgan. August and September is his time of the year when the hard ground suits his speed but the knee injury sustained in Japan may mean that he misses out. The others in the back three include Ashman, Rhys Williams and the underrated Nick Walne. Of course we hope to see these players with the ball in hand much more often this season, as they all have electric pace.

On the surface, there seems to be little difference from last season with only two first team personnel changes up front. Forward play is key to modern rugby and the ball winning skills of both flankers combined with the devastation that Crazy can cause at number 8 will give Cardiff an excellent back row – something that has been missing for many years. Behind the first team, however, comes the biggest changes as there are no longer current internationals to step into the first team. A Welsh Scottish League team against Caerphilly may be:

15. Ashman, 14. E Jones, 13. J Robinson, 12. Allen, 11. Morgan, 10. R Williams, 9. Powell, 8. Lewis, 7. Appleyard, 6. Tait, 5. Tait, 4. Jones, 3. Fourie, 2. Humphreys, 1. Powell

This coming season, Cardiff could flourish as youth takes control and whilst this may be a team that will not win any honours, the style of rugby may at last be attractive.

But the key man for next year will be Rudy Joubert. If he can mould the individuals into a team – watch out European Rugby!

Front Row
1. Spencer John (28)
2. Andrew Lewis (28)
3. Kenneth Fourie (24)
Second Row
4. Craig Quinnell (26)
5. John Tait (28)
Back Row
6. Robin Sowden-Taylor (19)
7. Martyn Williams (26)
8. Dan Baugh (27)
Half Backs
9. Robert Howley (31)
10. Neil Jenkins (30)
12. Pieter Muller (32)
13. Jamie Robinson (21)
Back Three
11. Craig Morgan (23)
14. Nick Walne (26)
15. Rhys Williams (21)

Cardiff’s new coach

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We took a look at our leading candidates.

Brad Johnstone

Born Auckland, NZ, 30 July 1950

Brad Johnson is now coach of the Italian national team. The greatest achievement to date for the man with Scottish ancestrywas leading the Italians to a famous win over the Scots in January 2000.

But his first success as a national coach came in the 1999 World Cup where he was heralded by many as “Coach of the Tournament“.

Flamboyant, yet down to earth, ex-prop Johnstone played 13 games for the All Blacks, including four as captain, between 1976 and 1979. He has coached at club level in Australia and Italy before taking up his first national coaching role with Fiji’s in 1994. There, he successfully transferred Fiji’s success in sevens to the 15-a-side game. In the 1999 World Cup, he led Fiji to a 38-22 win over Canada, a 67-18 destruction of Namibia and a narrow 28-19 loss to France. His team eventually lost 45-24 to England in the quarter finals. Famous for a hard nosed attitude, he turned a Fijian team renowned for ill-disicpline into a group with an excellent work ethic.

“Retiring” from his role with Fiji after the World Cup he tried to get a Super-12 coaching post or even the NZ national post before moving to Italy. There, he joined a team who had done substantially worse than Fiji during the World Cup losing all three games in the 1999 tournament – New Zealand (lost 3-101); Tonga (lost 25-28); England (lost 7-67). Fijian players had nothing but good things to say about him when he left for Rome.

He spent five years mouding Fiji into a competitive team and is now planning the same period of time for the Italians. However, Johnstone‘s contract is up at the end of this year though the rumours are that he will get a new contract.

Struggling with a rich union in Italy who won’t put the funds in to support him, he’s far from contented in his present role. The Italian Federation has also vetoed Johnstone’s efforts to recruit players with Italian grandmothers from France and NZ.

He has worked with a huge pool of players at Italy’s Six Nations training ground at a village on the Tuscan coast near Livorno and has imposed a discipline which was sadly lacking in 1999.

beating Scotland 34-20 in Rome in January 2000. Last year, the Azzuri put up a decent performance against the All Blacks in November only losing 56-19.

Pros: Forceful charismatic figure that Cardiff need to instill discipline into the squad. Excellent forward coach.
Cons: Another with a reputation for upsetting those in authority. Would the Cardiff job be a step down from his present role?
Verdict: Another with excellent credentials. Vast experience and hard nosed attitude is what we need. Contract with the Italian Federation may be a stumbling block.


Ian McIntosh

English-speaking non-Springbok Ian McIntosh was born 61 year ago in what was then Rhodesia. He started his playing career in Rhodesia where injuries at an early age saw him turn to coaching.

Between 1986 and 1999, McIntosh coached Natal for nearly 300 games. They were always “also rans” in SA, but he took them team from the “B” section to their first Currie Cup Championship in 100 years. In all, he led them to four Currie Cup Championships.

One of McIntosh’s great strengths is his ability to develop players and in his time in charge of Natal (when Wayne Fyvie was captain), he coached Gary Teichmann, Adrian Garvey, Andy Marinos, Shaune Payne and Pieter Muller. He soon developed a reputation for turning the ordinary into something more.

He also coached the Springbok teams between 1993 and 1994, but was fired by former Sarfu president Louis Luyt after the 1994 tour of New Zealand when SA lost the series to the All Blacks.

Highly regarded as one of the world’s most astute and motivational rugby coaches this man embodies the dedication, and passion required to win in today’s highly competitive world. His straight talking “shoot from the hip” approach and extremely down to earth personality won him more than a few enemies in his time, but leaves him well-equiped for life in the village. He is renown for his analytical thinking, fierce motivation and thoroughly professional approach – established well before the days of official rugby professionalism.

A vastly experienced coach – 18 years at Currie Cup level and nearly 40 in all with various clubs – Rod Macqueen has said of him that ‘ … he wears his heart on his sleeve. He lives and dies for the team.’

However, some have accused him of dull rugby with his teams grinding their way through at forwards rather than using backline flair – from entertaining to watch. He prefer to call his style “direct rugby”.

Although McIntosh, who is currently in Zimbabwe, officially retired as Natal coach two years ago, in March of this year, the South Africa Rugby Football Union (Sarfu) appointed him as technical adviser to the Springbok sevens squad.

Described by our good friends at Rodney Parade as “one of the world’s leading coaches ……. with a world-renowned reputation as a motivator” he’s good friends with Gary Teichmann – once describing the dropping of Teichmann as “shabby treatment” (by that other coach mentioned as a possible replacement for Yoda, Nick Mallett).

He is so passionate about rugby it makes him ill.”

Pros: Vast experience, motivational skills and the ability to develop ordinary players into something more
Cons: Possible lack of ambition – having done it all before – and a forward orientated style that might not suite all the purists at CAP
Verdict: In the mould of Alec Evans, could be the man to transform Cardiff’s players into true professionals.


Mike Brewer

Born: 06 November 1964, Pukekohe, NZ

Michael Robert Brewer – nicknamed ‘Bruiser’ – is coach of Italian club team L’Aquila. During last summer the club handed over – for a seven year period – the technical and commercial management of the first & second XV and U21 to a new company, Com.Sport chaired by the 32 times capped All Black. Italian, New Zealander, US and British backers fund L’Aquila. A career as a sports marketing manager in New Zealand gives him the business background.

One of Brewer’s deals includes a contract with the Italian Pay TV channel Stream for the broadcasting of the club’s games. In short, Brewer is very much a “Director of Rugby” which matches the position Cardiff have vacant.

His previous coaching experience was in Blackrock in Dublin and West Hartlepool (for whom he played 30 times). Whilst player-coach at Blackrock, he went on to help with the coaching of the Irish national team.

Captain of New Zealand under Laurie Mains, Brewer led L’Aquila to their first game in Europe – a 92-7 rout at Stade Français.

He joined West Hartlepool as Director of Rugby in 1997, where he played with ex-Cardiff bois Mark Ring (who he took over from as coach), Matt Silva, Chris John and yes, ol’ Teflon hands himself, Gerald Cordle.

Playing in front of crowds of up to only 2,000, he was at West Hartlepool when the club were forced to sell their ground and enter into a groundshare with the local football team – Victoria Park, the home of Hartlepool FC.

Brewer was sent off in the rebel season against Swansea for showing decent to Alan Ware – good friend of Uncle Peter!

He has taken his no-nonsense playing reputation into coaching, highlighted by his decision to sack prop Virgil Hartland for allegedly biting an opponent and todrop his leading import, the outside-half Steven Vile, for not tackling (look out Jinx!).

Pros: Top class playing experience.
Cons: Junior level coaching only. Unproven track record at a major club.
Verdict: With Mallett’s eyes firmly on Super 12 coaching, Brewer seems the most likely to want to move to Cardiff of the four.



Nick Mallett

Born: Haileybury, Hertfordshire, England, 30 October 1956

During his playing days, Nick Mallet was a abrasive No 8 for Western Province. He was more of a physical than a cerebral forward. He won two caps for South Africa in October 1984. But it wasn’t just South Africa where he played rugby. He won rugby and cricket Blues at Oxford before going on to play and coach for almost eight years in France. There, and in South Africa, he worked wonders with ailing or lower-division sides. Fluent in French, he also played rugby in Italy where he quickly earned a reputation for a dogged approach to the game and the necessity of plenty of blood sweat and tears.

Famously ending his playing days with a two-fingered salute to the national selectors after being dropped, brushes with authority have always dogged his rugby career. Likewise, he has also demonstrated an unwillingness to suffer those he considers fools – so watch out the WRUin if he gets anywhere near Wales.

When he took over from Kitch Christie as coach of South Africa, he brought some radical ideas to SA rugby based on running the ball at speed, rather than the forward based pattern of previous years. During his time as national coach, he led the Boks to17 consecutive wins . But last summer South Africa seemed to implode. Injuries to several key players opened the gates for New Zealand and Australia to inflict record defeats. And he has reacted to political criticism with confrontational language. Even so, his overall record of 27 wins from 38 games is no mean achievement.

Following a run of defeats in the Tri-Nations, Mallet was forced to resign in September, 2000 during the first day of hearings into a charge of misconduct brought against him by the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU). Mallett was charged with misconduct after he criticized high ticket prices for the Test match against the Wallabies and said administrators were “greedy”. This was the excuse that SARFU needed to call for his resignation.

Famously dropping Gary Teichmann as national captain in July 1999, he inadvertently instigated the recruitment of the ex-captain by Newport’s millionaire backer Tony Brown. He was also responsible for bringing Pieter Muller’s Springbok career to an end.

Following a healthy pay off from SARFU, Mallett’s not short of a fiver and he now supplement his income by writing in the press and for Planet Rugby. Having enjoyed a golfing sabbatical since last September, is the man now looking for a job for next season?

Since then, he’s been touted for numerous coaching positions – including EnglandHarlequins and France – so seeing his name associated with Cardiff should come as no surprise.

Pros: Charismatic, energetic, enthusiastic. Advocate of free-running, total rugby. Not averse to some radical views on the game – such as the introduction of 2 referees. It has been said that “he was seen as too strong-minded and powerful by some within the [SARFU,” so unlikely to be afraid of putting Cardiff first. “Neil Jenkins has an aversion to contact” – maybe he’ll teach him to tackle.
Cons: May be looking for a National Coaching job or may be content to work on his golf handicap. The Village League may be too small a platform for the man who coached the World Champions.
Verdict: Would be brilliant for the club, but would Uncle Peter give him enough freedom? Our favourite Uncle claims that the man he’s after is on a free contract – could Mallett be the man?


Rudy Joubert

Rudy Joubert – he of the Nicholas Cage looks – has signed a contract to become Cardiff’s Director of Rugby for the next two years. Describing the opportunity as “unbelievable” (a clear euphemism for “what a huge wad!”), he’s obviously been fully primed by Uncle Peter that winning the European Cup is still the number one priority for the club. He will start with Cardiff on July 15th.

There is a clause in his contract which says that if he is offered the Bok job within the next two years he is free to leave. With Harry Viljoen far from secure at the moment, this is far from an unlikely turn of events for the highly rated Joubert.

He played scrum half and fly half at school but moved to centre or wing with Tukkies before his career was cut short by injury. He then took over Pretoria University’s under-19s and won the league for five successive years before taking over the senior side and again winning championships to bring him to the notice of Kitch Christie.

He linked up with Christie at Transvaal in 1992 when Joubert was made director of coaching. He went on to take up an assistant coaching roll to Christie at the 1995 World Cup. In March 1997 he was appointed SARFU’s director of coaching and is the author of several South African rugby coaching manuals.

Joubert coached Namibia in the 1999 World Cup where he was a last minute stand in when his predecessor – Johan Venter – was sacked at the last minute. Whilst coaching Namibia, his wages were paid for by SARFU. Namibia are basically an amateur rugby playing nation.

Joubert was appointed as coach of the Boland Kavaliers following his time with the Namibian national team. He soon took them from nowhere to the Final of the Vodafone Cup where they lost to the Joost’s Northern Blue Bulls in mid May.

Joubert – described as “one of the more successful coaches in SA” – coached the SA U-23 which is playing against Namibia and Zimbabwe in the African Rugby Confederation Cup. Joubert coaches Boland in the Currie Cup competition – the feeder competition for the Super 12 teams. The Boland Kavaliers are basically an amateur team who feed the Stormers.

He had been tipped by many to take over from Laurie Mains as coach of the Cats in the next Super 12 season and was also mentioned as a future coach of the Stormers. He had a contract with Boland until 2003 – so no doubt compensation will have to be paid to the club. Has degree in theology.

Pros: International experience, a developer of players, ambitious, a “winner”
Cons: Untried at a professional club – our weakness is at forward not in the backs.
Verdict: A man out to prove himself – he’s in for a shock of what’s in store!


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