Robbie Deans: Red, Black and Gold
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The career of Robbie Deans is without parallel in the annals of New Zealand rugby. He was an All Black, the pin-up boy of the Canterbury team, and a rebel with the Cavaliers during a 12-year playing career. Even greater acclaim has followed as one of the best coaches of the modern era. After 17 years coaching professionally, Robbie still boasts a 70 percent success rate. He remains Super Rugby's most successful coach, six seasons after his departure from the Crusaders. His influence on the All Blacks when the current era of Bledisloe Cup supremacy began was such that Richie McCaw and Leon MacDonald both say he should have been in charge rather than John Mitchell's assistant. Then he was lost to New Zealand, appointed as Australia's first foreign-born coach after his homeland controversially turned its back on him. Yet Robbie remains a personality we don't really know. For the first time, he opens up on his career: from the triumphs of his formative years, through Canterbury's glory days in the early 1980s, and the experiences that shaped the man and the coach. With the same honesty he brings to his coaching, Robbie reveals the old-fashioned values that have underpinned the Crusaders dynasty. He offers an insight into his All Black association with Mitchell and the background in his failure to land the top job himself. He also breaks the silence on his removal from the Wallabies coaching job, examining in depth five turbulent years where the systemic and cultural challenges off the field were every bit as daunting and unrelenting as was confronting the best team on the planet. From the opening accounts, which are provided by All Black Dan Carter and Wallaby David Pocock, the story is told by those who know Robbie best. It is a fascinating story of a truly great era in rugby, with detailed and frank observations at almost every turn from the players, coaches, and administrators he was most closely associated with. They know the real Robbie.
Matt McIlraith is a former editor of "Rugby News" and media manager for the All Blacks, the Crusaders, and the Wallabies. He is the author of three previous titles.