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Stuart Barnes advises RFU to take on board Cipriani’s teachings

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Nov 28, 2023

Danny Cipriani is a name that even those outside of the rugby bubble will recognise. Known for life off the pitch just as much as his life on it, Cipriani still remains a key voice on the future of the sport.

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Even recently, Cipriani has had to contend with his name being dragged through the metaphorical mud in relation to recent relationships by certain tabloids. It’s Cipriani’s life inside of rugby that he really seems to thrive, however. Known to be one of the most naturally talented flyhalves England has ever produced, Cipriani never quite got the opportunity in the national shirt that many thought he deserved.

Now entering his more senior years, the mercurial number ten regularly takes to Twitter to voice his opinions on the oval ball shaped game. As you would expect from a former Premiership Player of the Year, his general musings on the game are very well thought out, and he is often willing to have healthy discussions with those who take an interest in his writings.

His most recent point discusses the fact that a player’s ability to be coached is not down to that individual, but the coach themselves. Cipriani has suggested that it’s the leader’s job to find a way to inspire the so-called ‘uncoachable’, rather than for the player to shape themselves into the coaching mould.

“If you’re a coach and you can’t coach an 11 year because he is rowdy. You need to look at yourself”, started Cipriani. “If you’re a coach and you can’t coach an 18 year old who isn’t connecting with you, you need to look at yourself. If you’re coaching a professional team to be the best and you can’t coach an individual because he is different, you need to look at yourself. Less of the Uncoachable and coachable. It’s your role to facilitate. It isn’t about you…”

Cipriani was keen to point out what an important role that successful player-management can play in a sports team: “The coach has a vision. He designs sessions and game scenarios around said vision, sometimes the vision may need to be addressed based on his players, so he must also be flexible. Steph Curry changed the game of basketball. If all players are respected, valued and seen then all players will buy in. You can’t fake truth, or authenticity. It is felt. Well rounded coach will be loved by all…”

A serious bugbear of the former Bath and Gloucester player has always been the inability of certain coaches to allow their team to play ‘heads up’, ‘out-of-the-box’, rugby. As what many would describe as an intuitive player himself, Cipriani expressed the importance of entrusting a player with their own decisions during the match.

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“A coaches vision doesn’t make decisions on the field. If a coaches vision is stifling players from thinking for themselves it’s a game plan. Which has limitations. If you have your framework of how you play and flexibility within. For your best players to make decisions, like football teams and all good rugby teams. Because you can defend a plan. You can’t defend a good decision.”

One character that appeared to agree wholeheartedly with this point of view, is former Bath legend Stuart Barnes, saying “The RFU could do worse than appoint Danny Cipriani to advise those who put together the nation’s coaching programmes.”

Barnes, being a former fly-half himself and a rugby commentator for 30 years now, understands the nuances of the game better than most. So to have the backing of such a prestigious rugby mind will bode well for a man looking to his next career move.

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