Coaches - Past and Present (1) Brian Smith

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Coaches - Past and Present (1) Brian Smith

by JonnyC on Sun Nov 27, 2005 9:45 pm

This series of six articles hopes to capture the essence of every London Irish coach in the professional age.


Brian Smith
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Brian Smith joined London Irish on the 15 March 2005 on a three year contract. He must have been up for the challenge as Irish lay 9th place in the Premiership having lost a few days earlier 15-6 at Welford Road by a full strength Leicester. The team were in trouble with only 6 points separated them from Leeds Tykes in 12th.
Brian -replacing long serving favourite Conor O'Shea as Director Of Rugby- only had a short time working with the existing coaching staff of Gary Gold and Paul Hulls, four matches to be exact. He was to watch the Club just avoid relegation on the last day of the 2004/2005 season as Newcastle beat the Exiles at Kingston Park. Harlequins were to dropped into League 1.

Our current DoR has an impressive CV; coaching at Ricoh "Black Rams" - Japan, Bath Rugby where he was credited with building a most parsimonious defence under John Connoly, ACT Brumbies backs/assistant coach, Eastern Suburbs - Sydney.
His playing career was interesting controversial and varied; winning 6 caps for Australia in 1987 then swapping his yellow shirt for green, winning a further 9 caps with Ireland!
Positions or Codes didn't matter for Brian. He has played in every position from No.9-15 making 15 appearances for Leicester Tigers at outhalf; he has even swapped codes playing for Balmain Tigers rugby league after a stint at Queensland Reds. Perhaps this is why Irish haven't been shy to recruit several League converts from the Southern Hemisphere.

The coffers of gold have been raided pre-season, for a host of fresh talent has joined the Club.
International players Olivier Magne, Danie Cotzee, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Dominic Feau'nati plus Riki Flutey, Paul Franze, James Storey, Ben Willis, Faan Rautenbach and Michael Collins shows that Mr Smith has the ambition to move Irish up to the top end of the Guinness Premiership after several lean years in the recruitment arena.

Watching Irish play this season is a joy. Riki Flutey has made an immediate impact, mixing up the playmakers role with both
team captain Mike Catt and Barry Everritt, who incidentally doesn't just kick the ball any more. The opposition has been kept guessing, how will Irish play today? Brian talked of chameleons, picking the team for a specific opponent. Rob Andrew certainly felt Newcastle were "mugged" by the strategy.A problem for some seasons has been the pack. The lads at the front aren't getting any younger but with the reinforcements Faan, Danie, Michael, Juan, Olivier and Kieran Roche's flexibility in the 2nd and back row, Irish are pushing teams around the park. Bob Casey and Nick Kennedy are working wonders burgling the ball in lineouts. Declan Danaher is playing like a devil in the absence of Kieron Dawson. Phil Murphy’s “Dean Richardsesque” socks can be seen making galloping runs with the ball.

The best match so far was the demolition of Bath by an incredible 36-13. Yes Bath Rugby. It would have been an even greater margin, but the referee felt he needed to add oodles more time on to allow Bath a try scoring chance (or was it to save their embarrassment).
A number three spot in the league was achieved when Gloucester were despatched 25-10 on the 20th November 2005. So Irish have done the West Country treble just beating Bristol 24-22 in early September.
Things came crashing back down to earth one cold and dark November night as Leicester lead by Austin Healey did Irish over 35-3 with a squad bereft of their international players! It just goes to show what a hard place Welford Road is when trying to beat the Tigers.

There is still hope. The new DoR seems to have charmed the supporters with his chosen style of play and the big spending to boot. THe squad now has real strenght in depth. Lets not expect too much too soon. Nothing is worse than boom followed by bust. Remember the 1990s. A solid foundation with better to come is what London Irish need. Good Luck to Brian and the team.

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by Loobs on Sun Nov 27, 2005 10:39 pm

Thanks for this, Jonny. Looking forward to t rest of the articles already
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by dom_pedro on Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:42 am

Jonny, thanks for the article. I shall leave it in the General area for a couple of days and then pop it over to the features area.
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by dom_pedro on Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:54 pm

moving to the features area ... looking forward to the next one.
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