David Flatman: My money's on Geech for best director

From the Front Row: I've played for many DoRs. Buck lacked the tools and you've got to hand it to Knuckles but McGeechan rules by keeping it simple

When I played at Saracens, Francois Pienaar was our chief executive. He was, for that matter, our head coach too, and our captain. I was always a bit disappointed when he didn't find time to cook the lunch as well. I'm sure I did see him driving the team bus once, though. He was a busy man.

Naturally I would rib him while in the bath; suggesting his performance on the field was slipping due to an excessive workload, but inevitably he would reply by asking me who exactly I was, and what I was doing in the bath next to him. Then he would plug in his now archaic hands-free kit and stride, in his shoulder-padded suit, out to the luxobarge he called a car and begin barking instructions to his minions.

Meanwhile, Kris Chesney and I would take up position at a small, hidden window and wait to see how he might react to the cars we had earlier commandeered and parked so close to his on either side that his only option was to climb in through a window. Quite degrading – one would have thought – for a man of his stature but, presumably as a result of having literally no time, in he would clamber without even pausing for breath.

Despite not receiving the aggressive response for which we had hoped, we took this as a moral victory. I hope he never reads this paper.

As far as I am aware, there is no longer anybody attempting to run a Premiership club on his own. There will always be workaholics in sport but, thankfully, the various roles have by now been clarified somewhat.

Except, that is, the director of rugby. Over the years I have worked under a few different DoRs and they have all operated very differently. John Connolly – "Knuckles" – the former Wallaby head coach, is one man who sticks in the memory. He would run the meetings at Bath, pick the team and deal with the press. I think he wanted to be out there with the boys on the training field but, after a rampaging Kevin Maggs "accidentally" took him out, sprinting on to a short ball from Mike Catt, he was too terrified. Instead, he would drift back to the club to "deal with some business".

The one time we snuck back to see what he was actually up to, we found him in the coaches' video room in an armchair (which he had imported), feet up, watching horseracing with a Kit Kat and a can of Coke. His stumbling attempt to look immediately busy was so hilarious we actually hit the floor with laughter. But his approach worked; he never tried to be a technical coach, just to instil strong rugby principles in his players and, to a man, we would have died for him. Mission accomplished.

Wayne "Buck" Shelford worked a little differently. A true rugby legend, we at Saracens expected a pure team man, a coach of the people. Instead, he told Sky Sports after a painful loss that we had no leaders in the team and that, no matter how good a coach might be, "he can only work with the tools at his disposal". "Who's he calling a tool?" asked Chesney. OK, so in this case, perhaps he had a point.

But our captain, Kyran Bracken, one of the most talented, bravest men to have played the game, took offence at this statement and a split occurred. It was a sad time and Saracens said goodbye to a lot of players that season. A tight unit disintegrated from the inside out. Not all Shelford's fault, of course, but it would not have happened on Knuckles' watch.

Here at Bath, our director of rugby is Ian McGeechan, and we know exactly what he does. He doesn't eat many chocolate bars and I don't think he's into horseracing, but he does coach, and he does run the place.

We are lucky enough to have Steve Meehan, Martin Haag and Brad Davis coaching all the while, but it certainly helps to have one governor, one point of reference, should clarity be sought.

There will always be different approaches in this position, but I know what I like: nice and simple. If in doubt, ask Geech. He even gets his own parking space these days – the game really has moved on – so there is little opportunity to block him in, Pienaar style. Instead, we just take Dave Barnes's car and put it in there, hoping Geech sees fit to fire him on the spot. Tools indeed...

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...