Eddie Jones: You need three or four years to build a club

Calling The Shots
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The Independent Online

So the figures tell us that, on average, a Guinness Premiership coach can expect to stay in his job for around 20 months. It's a pretty brutal statistic, but I wouldn't say it surprises me: rugby coaching has had an increasingly unstable feel to it for a while now.

I wouldn't say things are about to get better, either. Instant gratification, the "I want it now" syndrome, call it what you will – it's part and parcel of the way society as a whole is developing. And professional sport, rugby included, has never been entirely immune to social trends, even though the wages paid to top footballers make you wonder whether the economic downturn actually exists.

I'm one of the coaches moving on at the end of the season, a couple of years earlier than planned. Twenty months? I didn't get close. My circumstances at Saracens are private and unforeseen, but without doubt, my first spell in charge of an English club has had its challenges.

When I look at the wider picture, I wonder about the future and worry a little. I think it was Sir Alex Ferguson who, in the aftermath of the latest change of manager at Chelsea, identified the importance of "building a club". To judge by his record, Sir Alex is right about most things: certainly, he's right about this. There is no short cut, no instant fix. If you want success, it's about recruiting the right people, identifying the right style and creating the right culture. That takes between three and four years. It can't be done any quicker.

Anything good in sport is hard to achieve; miracles don't exist. Yet in rugby, we seem to be heading down the football road without stopping to take on board the best examples football gives us. Sir Alex? Arsène Wenger at Arsenal? Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa? It can't be a coincidence that the most talked about – the most envied – managers around are operating from a stable base.

There are depressing stories being told all over the rugby world right now. Richard Hill ended his association with Bristol last week – an abrupt departure that, to my mind, was poor reward for his tremendous achievements with the club in recent seasons. You don't need to be a rugby genius to know that Richard did an outstanding job, producing a tough and competitive team who played for each other and probably overreached themselves. If Bristol have struggled this season, it has been more to do with a lack of resources than the lack of an effective head coach.

Back home in Australia, the New Zealander John Mitchell is having a hard time of it with the Perth-based Western Force team. He's been relieved of some of his duties, he has a chief executive involved in selection and a judge – a judge! – holding an examination into the running of the franchise. And all this has been played out in the full glare of publicity. People here will know and respect John from his time with the England team. He deserves better than this.

The thing is, expectations have risen exponentially and clubs are being asked to perform above and beyond their potential right from the start. That leads to the kind of coaching turnover we're seeing at the moment, which in turn has a detrimental effect on the development of young players. Stability and cohesion are at the very heart of high-achieving sporting organisations – look at Manchester United, the New England Patriots, the British cycling team and Australian swimming set-up – yet the only rugby team in the world where I believe those words have been applied consistently would be the Crusaders in New Zealand. Rugby still needs to learn from other sports.

Not so very long ago, I attended a football seminar at which someone from Barcelona told the audience about his ambition to make his club the best in the world. He was followed on stage by Randy Lerner, the American owner of Aston Villa. Asked if he had the same motivation, he replied: "All I'm interested in at the moment is making Villa the best side in Birmingham. Once we've done that, we'll think about the next stage." That's what I call realism ... and a recipe for success.

Eddie Jones is Saracens' director of rugby. You can see his side in Premiership action against Bath at Vicarage Road a week tomorrow, kick-off 1pm.

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