Aotearoa is the greatest rugby union nation and has been for quite some time. Largely thanks to no other country quite enjoying rugby like us kiwis do, which in-turn has resulted in everything from grassroots rugby to Super Rugby being finely tuned to roll out the best international rugby team in the world ... and enjoy the financial benefits that come with that.
Such a great rugby nation would rather obviously include the best coaches in rugby. Some of these coaches coach the All Blacks in different capacities, some of them coach Super Rugby franchises and some of them spread their wings to coach other international rugby teams. The latter is what a lot of talented coaches have done with Warrren Gatland, Joe Schmidt and Vern Cotter leading what was a group of seven kiwi coaches at the Rugby World Cup who weren't there coaching the All Blacks.
Jamie Joseph is the latest kiwi coach to head abroad, leaving his post with the Super Rugby champions Otago Highlanders after the upcoming Super Rugby season to lead Japan. Joseph has been presented with an opportunity to build Japanese rugby towards the next RWC which is in Japan and he will be building on top of the foundations laid down by Eddie Jones.
Eddie Jones who has moved on to coach England, where no foundations have be laid.
The opportunity to coach Japan with a home RWC on the horizon is very enticing, even if uncertainty surrounds the Japanese Super Rugby franchise. Enticing enough to lure you away from a Super Rugby franchise?
Do we judge our kiwi coaches on their success in Super Rugby or on the international stage?
Is it a case of out of sight, out of mind?
There are only five Super Rugby coaching positions available, which doesn't leave much room for other high calibre coaches to earn their stripes/showcase their coaching ability. You'd also have to assume that international rugby coaches earn a lot more than Super Rugby coaches, which when combined with the challenge and/or life experience that coaching overseas offers, makes for a fairly attractive package to head overseas.
Some kiwis might view coaching a Super Rugby team as a more respected position than coaching Wales or Japan. There is after all only five Super Rugby coaches, so only the 'best' kiwi coaches get this opportunity and we kinda know that the NZRU won't appoint an All Blacks coach from an overseas position. Coach a Super Rugby team to success and you'll put yourself in line to coach the All Blacks.
Personally, I see this as an example of the small-mindedness that us kiwis tend to suffer from. Coaching an international rugby team is obviously one of the major boxes that any rugby coach would like ticked and if they are able to change that country's rugby culture for the better as Jamie Joseph can do, then it's one heck of a seal of approval.
Essentially this a situation that only Aotearoa finds itself in, because no other nation quite does rugby like we do. There's two sides to this as if I were Jamie Joseph, I'd jump at the chance to coach an international team and enjoy that experience. On the other hand as a fan of kiwi rugbyness, I want to see our best coaches using their unique skills as kiwi coaches to help raise the bar for other international rugby programs.
When you consider that no kiwi coach, other than perhaps Robbie Deans, has seen their team go backwards under their guidance, it's clear that we have the right recipe. As rugby grows its horizons, moving into new markets, we could possibly see even more kiwi coaches get promotions to international jobs.
Which, in my mind is far from a bad thing. Rugby feels as though it is split into two categories: the All Blacks and the rest. While this is somewhat great from a kiwi perspective, it would be so much better if the All Blacks were dominating a highly competitve rugby world where five or more teams can consistently compete with the All Blacks, not one or two.
For this to happen, more kiwi coaches need to be in charge. Whether you like it or not, Joseph's appointment continues the kiwi-coaching dominance and I can't see it slowing down.
Nor should it.