The Reds suffered another humiliating defeat last weekend, going down 43-22 against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria to find themselves on the bottom of the Super 15 table. Another loss next week against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein will see them at 1 win & 9 losses. Despite players being out injured or on suspension the ship is sinking, leaking players and fans, it is time to get serious and start rebuilding or we will be squandering at the wrong end of the Super Rugby table for a long time.
Being the head coach of a Super Rugby franchise is not an easy task and questions are being asked about the suitability of Richard Graham. Undoubtedly, he’s a good skills and defensive coach, but to be at the helm of the worst performing Reds team, that were champions in 2011 and contain many Wallabies, may be too much of an ask. With the exodus next season of key players the time is right to seek an alternative coach.
Ewen McKenzie initially hired Graham as the Reds head coach, but realising he wasn’t ready had him as the defensive coach. When McKenzie finally got the Wallaby coaching position in 2013, Graham rose to the top job of the 2011 Super 15 Champions overseeing them drop off the pace and spiraling out of finals contention in successive seasons; the worst performance in the Super 15 competition.
An accomplished 7s player representing Australia at two Commonwealth Games (1998 & 2002), Graham began his professional coaching career in the UK with Bath RFC under current Western Force Head Coach, Michael Foley. Four seasons at Bath also saw him work under former Reds & Wallabies coach John “Knuckles” Connolly and former England national coach Brian Ashton. His tutelage continued under a previous Wallabies and Reds’ coach, Eddie Jones, at Saracens, 2006-09. When Jones left for the Suntory coaching position in Japan Graham rose to Head Coach in 2009. By June 2009 he joined Robbie Deans as the Skills Coach in the Wallabies side, but was told he was no good unless he coached Super 15. That prompted him taking the assistant role at the Western Force under John Mitchell, once again rising to Head Coach when Mitchell suddenly left in 2010 for the Lions franchise in Johannesburg. There was some ill feeling towards him by some of the players so he quit and joined the Reds on the 16th of April, 2012 (source: Wikipedia).
Graham’s coaching contract is until the end of this year’s Super 15 season and measures should be put in place to look for an alternative Head Coach. An application protocol should be put in place for leading Australian coaches both here and abroad to determine a suitable Head Coach for the next three seasons of Super Rugby. It is now up to the Queensland Reds Board to notify the players and fans what they have in mind for next season.