JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Force not with Graham when he parted ways

Date

John Eales

Difficult choice ... Richard Graham.

Difficult choice ... Richard Graham. Photo: Anthony Johnson

These days, from both a playing and coaching perspective, loyalty is more fluid than fixed.

Simon Sinek in his book, Start with Why, explains, when he writes: “Whether individuals or organisations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.”

In other words, one's loyalty is first to oneself then to one's team or organisation, that's human nature. When convenient, it may be a two-way street.

This is the ugliest time of year in sport; ugly from a personal perspective that is. Because sport is personal. It's personal because it trades in emotion and it's emotion that pays the bills.

This week it was announced that Western Force coach Richard Graham will coach the Reds next season, while Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper has gone to the azure of theWaratahs. Meanwhile, Waratah Dean Mumm has signed with Exeter in the UK, but that is less prickly and personal because Exeter is outside the eco-system of the Australian conference.

The Western Force reacted quickly with a corporate-like approach, sacking Graham. Brumbies coach Jake White, on the other hand, displayed disappointment but no resentment, wishing Hooper the best and indicating he would still be in the selection frame for this season.

This is not a unique issue to rugby. Wayne Bennett announced before the end of the last NRL season that he was to leave St George-Illawarra and take tenure at the Newcastle Knights.

Ross Lyon did the same in the AFL and this week led his new team, Fremantle, to victory over his previous team, St Kilda. If you want to know if time heals all wounds, it doesn't, not this little time anyway.

Even seven years after Nathan Sharpe left the captaincy of the Reds to assume the captaincy at the Western Force, some Queenslanders have never forgiven him–many will certainly never forget.

Undoubtedly, it is different for a coach and a player, particularly as a coach has to pick and mould his team. From all reports, Graham never sought the Reds position, it sought him. Neither has he erred contractually as he had a six-month termination clause, which he

triggered. But you cannot deny the emotional pull on himself and his young family to move home after 10 years away. With only one coaching position available in his home state, this was an opportunity that may never have come again.

At the same time, I can also understand the Force's swift action, for when that often uninvited guest of change thrusts himself upon you, one must act incisively to plan for the present and beyond.

Since it would be impossible for Graham to now build a team for the future, that responsibility lies with the new regime.

People invariably fear change, particularly when it is foisted upon them, as change introduces uncertainty. Yet despite that fear, some will adopt change early and adjust while others will hang on obstinately, and sometimes irrationally, to the past.

In my experience, however, most people will go with the noise, positive or negative. So to control change, you must control the noise. If those most threatened by change are adequately informed and supported through the process, and if they truly believe the promised benefits for themselves, then they will tend towards the positive noise.

This will be more easily achieved in the Reds camp than in the Force as it was the Reds, and more particularly Ewen McKenzie, who designed this change. He will now work with a coach dedicated to detail, not unlike himself. Together, they could make a compelling duo.

The Western Force must act decisively and appoint a new coach.

If there is such a thing, it may actually be an ideal time to search, as the northern hemisphere is approaching the end of its season and apparently there is no shortage of hats already in the ring.

Like McKenzie, Graham has the outcome he desired but it would still have been a tough week.

Interestingly, he received support from an unlikely source in recent Force chairman Geoff Stooke, a respected stalwart of West Australian rugby.

Stooke said to Graham that in the amateur days of rugby, you could change your car, your house or your job but never your rugby club.

Professionalism has changed his thinking. His parting words were: “While there is never a good time for these announcements, thanks for all you have done, you will always be welcome in my house.”

Graham may not get as warm a reception from the crowd when heads west next season.

22 comments so far

  • John - no offence but it seems like you are always trying to sound like some deep meaningful pretentious philosopher. Any chance you could just give us some down to earth no bs insight in to what's going on in australian rugby and how it might improve ?

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 8:47AM
    • johnny-boy, you might as well call yourself troll-boy. You're always bagging whoever is writing an article but your own post totally misses the point of the article you supposedly read.

      Commenter
      CannonballKoala
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      April 25, 2012, 9:12PM
  • Johnny-Boy, if you want that sort of insight, read Greg or Rupert or any other rugby journo in Australia.

    Commenter
    Rory
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 10:18AM
    • Wayne Smith and Ewen McKenzie can do it. I know it's rarified air up there John but think of us mere mortal over 50's.

      Commenter
      johnny-boy
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 12:55PM
  • You must be joking "JonnyBoy". John's articles are giving the reader credit for having some insight and depth of knowledge of the game and all its machinations.For the first time here is some real insight into where loyalty stands in rugby and how it can be approached in the professional era. Great article John please keep catering for those over the age of 20.

    Commenter
    TBONE
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 10:39AM
    • While I understand Graham's decision to leave Perth, it makes me wonder why it is so hard for the Force to retain key people. Giteau, Mitchell, O'Conner, Cross - it's a crime to run out on your team like this.
      Can someone please tell me why these decisions are made public DURING the competition? Learning that your coach doesn't want to coach you anymore pulls the plug on the season!

      Commenter
      scott
      Location
      Portland, Oregon
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 10:47AM
      • Scott, "why it is so hard for the Force to retain key people"... the answer probably lies in why the players/coaches came to perth in the first place.... opportunity (for selection) and/or money. Some will invest themselves in the club and community (eg sharpe, pocock etal) some are more focused on what's in it for them (eg. gits, cross, d mitchell, joc). I still dislike the name "FORCE", it is such a franchise name....go the Black Swans! (it'll never catch on)

        Commenter
        joe b
        Location
        perth
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 12:15PM
      • @ scott
        Couldn't agree with you more. For the life of me I don't how an organisation, still struggling to grow the sport in their own province, can allow this to happen!
        I know it's (rugby) a professional sport but where's the professionalism in all of this?
        Then to add injury to insult we're told the departing Coach hasn't done ANYTHING wrong. Garbage with a strong smell attached !
        As I've stated before, if this is how the ARU secures a future National Head Coach by ripping the heart out of a developing province to gap-fill another established 'rugby state' and their coaching position then it's just plain wrong.
        Scott, this and more is probably why the likes of Giteau et al aren't there anymore and what hope now do they have of recruiting future franchise players?
        @ piru
        You've been very quiet on all of this ??

        Commenter
        Machooka
        Location
        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 12:19PM
      • I haven't really much to say on the matter chook, I don't think I ever really thought Graham was going to be a long term coach. so maybe this was inevitable.

        Griffo makes a good point in that WA is not really a rugby state, and to a large degree RugbyWA is made up of immigrants from NZ, SA, Eng/Sco/Wal etc etc.

        Still, I can see that changing. While Kiwi parents are cheering for the ABs, their kids are more often than not enamoured with the likes of Pocock, Cooper and O'Connor.

        One really good season by the Force could really turn things around over here I reckon.

        Commenter
        piru
        Location
        Perth via Rakaia
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 1:48PM
    • Hey John, interested in a coaching job?

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 11:09AM

      More comments

      Make a comment

      You are logged in as [Logout]

      All information entered below may be published.

      Error: Please enter your screen name.

      Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Please enter your comment.

      Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

      Post to

      You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

      Thank you

      Your comment has been submitted for approval.

      Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

      Super Rugby 2015

      Round 1
      Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
      CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
      BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
      Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
      LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
      BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
      Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
      SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
      BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
      WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 2
      Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
      CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
      REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
      Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
      BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
      HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
      RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
      Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
      STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
      SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 3
      Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
      HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
      FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
      Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
      CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
      CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
      REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
      Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
      BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
      LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 4
      Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
      BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
      Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
      BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
      RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
      Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
      STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 5
      Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
      HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
      FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
      Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
      HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
      RED vs BRU 29 Stats
      Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
      STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
      CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 6
      Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
      HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
      REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
      Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
      Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
      BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
      SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
      WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 7
      Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
      HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
      RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
      Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
      CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
      HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
      WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
      Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
      SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
      BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 8
      Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
      HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
      REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
      Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
      CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
      BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
      Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
      SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
      LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 9
      Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
      BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
      Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
      CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
      WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
      FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
      Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
      LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
      BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 10
      Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
      CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
      Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
      HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
      HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
      BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
      FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
      Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
      SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
      CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
      View All Fixtures
      Round 11
      Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
      CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
      BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
      Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
      CRU vs BLU 17:35AMI
      WAR vs REB 19:55ANZ
      Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
      LIO vs CHT 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
      STO vs BUL 03:10DHL Newlands
      RED vs HUR 16:05SS
      View All Fixtures
      Round 12
      Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
      HIG vs SHA 17:35FBS
      BRU vs WAR 19:40GIO Stadium
      Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
      BLU vs FOR 15:30EP
      HUR vs CRU 17:35WS
      REB vs CHF 19:40AAMI
      Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
      CHT vs STO 01:05FSS
      BUL vs LIO 03:10Loftus Versfeld
      View All Fixtures
      Round 13
      Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
      CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
      REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
      Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
      HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
      FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
      LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
      Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
      STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
      View All Fixtures
      Round 14
      Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
      BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
      RED vs REB 19:40SS
      Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
      HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
      WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
      Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
      LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
      CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
      View All Fixtures
      Round 15
      Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
      CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
      RED vs SHA 19:40SS
      Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
      BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
      WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
      FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
      Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
      CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
      STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
      View All Fixtures
      Round 16
      Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
      CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
      BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
      Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
      SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
      HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
      FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
      Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
      STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
      LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
      View All Fixtures
      Round 17
      Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
      HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
      FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
      Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
      REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
      BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
      RED vs CHF 19:40SS
      CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
      Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
      STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
      View All Fixtures
      Round 18
      Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
      BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
      REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
      Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
      BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
      CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
      WAR vs RED 19:40AS
      Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
      BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
      SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
      View All Fixtures
      Round 19
      Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
      7 vs 7 09:00
      Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
      7 vs 7 09:00
      View All Fixtures
      Round 20
      Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
      7 vs 7 09:00
      Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
      7 vs 7 09:00
      View All Fixtures
      Round 21
      Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
      7 vs 7 09:00
      View All Fixtures
      Super Rugby 2015
      Overall standings
      Team P W L D +/- Pts
      Chiefs 10 8 2 0 78 37
      Brumbies 10 6 4 0 96 31
      Bulls 9 6 3 0 48 28
      Hurricanes 8 7 1 0 85 33
      Stormers 9 6 3 0 31 26
      Waratahs 8 5 3 0 27 23
      Highlanders 9 6 3 0 20 28
      Lions 9 5 4 0 -48 21
      View all
       
      Featured advertisers