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...

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map