HE WAS ANNOUNCED as the next coach of Munster Rugby today.
But after the province had whittled their short-list down to three names, Rob Penney was the one nobody fancied.
So, we answered some salient questions from our inner idiot.
Who is this man? Penney is the 48-year-old coach of Canterbury, and he is also in charge of the ‘Baby Blacks’; New Zealand’s all conquering under 20 side.
Great, Canterbury are decent in Super Rugby. Made the final last year… Well, no. That’s the Canterbury Crusaders, Penney coached plain old Canterbury. Think Crossmaglen to Armagh or Dr. Crokes to Kerry. The top players might drop down for a visit every now and then if they’re not needed on international duty.
Oh, ok. ‘Canterbury’…Didn’t Munster sign a prop from them too? Indeed. Peter Borlase played the vast majority of his rugby with the province, only enjoying a handful of caps in Super Rugby. That deal may be where the relationship between Penney and Munster originated.
I take it they’re good? They’ve been the best in New Zealand in recent history. They have won the ITM Cup four years on the trot, a feat only achieved by two other coaches: Maurice Trapp and a bloke called Graham Henry. Here’s a taster of Canterbury’s style from the 2010 semi-final.
YouTube credit: ruggerdump
OK, winning mentality, that’s good. What else can he bring to Munster? Well, it’s been well documented that Penney primarily leans towards forwards coaching, but he’s been a head coach for quite a while now so should be well capable of letting Anthony Foley get on with the task at hand. His speciality is the line-out, a set-piece he coached during his time with the Crusaders.
Crucially, he also has a track record of working with youth. With the black and reds he has been forced to blood new talent in numerous positions, including at number 10, a looming problem which Munster will need a solution for sooner rather than later.
Cool, does he talk like Joe Schmidt too? Well he’s got a New Zealand accent, but (as you can guess from his face) he speaks in a much deeper, gruffer tone than a North Islander like Schmidt. Have a listen.
YouTube credit: CenturionRugby
Did anyone else want him? It seems so. Although his only experience in Super Rugby extended no further than assistant Crusaders coach in 2005, he has been linked with many vacant posts including the ever-strengthening Western Force franchise.
So he knows Richie McCaw? It just so happens that Munster could do with a world class seven. Couldn’t every team? It would be a real coup to get McCaw playing in Ireland, but you fancy the IRFU budget might not stretch that far at the moment.
Besides, this picture was taken four years ago. McCaw doesn’t play for the Crusaders much these days, never mind the province that supports them. But with Penney and Casey Laulala already signed up for next season, Munster would be a better fit for him than most.
It wouldn’t be the first time the southern province invested in a semi-fit All Black legend.