The Roar
The Roar


Sacked before they could stink! Why there are no 'worst' rugby coaches

Alright, that's just about enough out of you, Sir Henry.
Roar Guru
1st December, 2014
1236 Reads

Since 1990, only New Zealand and France have had no foreign-born coaches. The South African Roarers are about to hit “reply in disagreement” but the legendary Sharks (and Boks) coach, Ian McIntosh was born in Zimbabwe.

By the way, his record of wins was one of the poorest (33%).

Disturbingly, the All Black coaching results keep getting better and better. From Laurie Mains (69%), John Hart (77%), John Mitchell (84%), and Graham Henry (85%) – to Steve Hansen with a whopping 90.5% win ratio.

Wallaby prospects looked best during the Jones (Alan to Eddie) era, including Rod Macqueen, with 79per cent, having the highest win ratio. England has a similar trend with their best results coming until 1994, then trending right down.

Geoff Cooke, Jack Rowell and Sir Clive all achieved greater than 70 per cent wins. Since then, no coach has achieved more than 60 per cent. Nor for that matter, since Macqueen, has any Australian coach.

Other than England, the northern hemisphere teams show a large appetite for overseas-born coaches.

New Zealand has easily produced the most international coaches since 1990. Vern Cotter is currently with Scotland.

John Hart coached Argentina followed by Alex Wylie, Graham Henry and Steve Hansen taking on Wales. Italy engaged Brad Johnstone and John Kirwin.

Warren Gatland, first coached Ireland (98–2001) then Wales (since 2007), preceded by Graham Henry who had a four year stint (98–2002) with Wales, and Robbie Deans (you know where!)


In fact, since Rod Macqueen, Deans’ win-loss ratio is the highest (similar to John Connolly) but over a greater number of Tests (75 versus 22 Tests).

Does he really deserve the pillorying he gets from some commentators? Or, being a Kiwi, did we expect more from him?

Australian exports include a number of coaches and interim coaches including Alex Evans and Mike Ruddock (Wales), Matt Williams and Scot Johnson (Ireland). Nick Mallet (SA) coached Italy for four years.

So, based on the stats only and since 1990, who ranks as having the best and worst win: loss ratio, excluding Argentina? Yes, I hear you, howls of protest, this ignores players, the money, prior development, etc

Best results
Sentimental favourite (but not the best) is Graham Henry, for longevity and overall success, 85 per cent over 103 Tests.

Sentimental second place, Steve Hansen – 90.5per cent over 42 Tests. But, the best results have been achieved by Springbok coach Kitch Christie, with 14 successive victories (including the 1996 World Cup) for a 100per cent win ratio. (More howls of protest, his father was Scottish and he was educated in Edinburgh, but born in Johannesburg).

Worst results
Some interesting stuff that highlights the quality of the “raw material”. Nick Mallet achieved 71 per cent with the Boks but 21 per cent with Italy (27 Tests). Steve Hansen achieved 35 per cent (29 Tests) with Wales, but ten years later has an astounding record with the All Blacks.

There are a number of ‘worst’ contenders in the 30% range: Cheika (howls of protest for obvious reasons, lack of preparation etc), Carel du Plessis (Boks – a controversial appointed due to his lack of experience and proved his critics correct), Ian McIntosh (mentioned earlier, great results for the Sharks but not the Boks), and from NSW, Scott Johnson (coached Scotland in 16 Tests).


There are only two coaches in the sub-20 per cent range, but I can’t bring myself to name them.

There are no losers in the game of rugby.