Best Rugby coaches

A coach in rugby is really an underappreciated position. We have seen countless examples in the past of coaches making a huge difference to a team. It is not easy to get 15 players doing exactly their roles in a game situation.

However, there are some coaches who stand out above the crowd. This list is going to take a look at 10 of the best rugby coaches in the world right now. This list is not in any particular order, just some of the very best right now.

Eddie Jones

There is no doubt that the first name on this list is interesting characters in World Rugby at the moment. His outspoken and emotional attitude is something that can be looked at positive, taking attention away from his teams when needed.

This attitude has bred success for Eddie Jones, who played as a Hooker for New South Wales and Randwick. Jones went into coaching not long after his playing career ended, working his way up through the ranks in Japan before landing his first head coaching roles with the Brumbies.

Since that appointment 24 years ago, Jones has coached Australia and England to a World Cup final, as well as leading Japan to their historic win over South Africa in 2015. His time with England started very strong but it has been inconsistent over the last few years, with little success outside of reaching the 2019 World Cup final.

But his long list of achievements means Jones still has to be considered one of the best coaches in the World.

Fabien Galthie

There is certainly some arguments that Fabien Galthie is the best coach in the world right now considering what he has created with this French team. French fans will have known of Galthie for a long time now, considering he made his international playing debut in 1991.

Galthie became head coach of Stade Francais a year after retiring with the team. Galthie led that Stade Francais to multiple finals, including winning the Top 14 in 2007. He led them to the teams first Top 14 final before leaving in 2014.

After a year with Toulon, Galthie joined the coaching staff of the French national team as he was scheduled to be the successor of Jacques Brunel after the 2019 World Cup. Since that World Cup, Galthie has turned this French side into what looks like the best international team in the world.

In three Six Nations campaigns, Galthie has led France to two second place finishes before an incredible 2022 campaign. France won their first Grand Slam in a decade and he already has some big wins in charge of France. France have a 100% record against Ireland, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and Wales under Galthie.

While the pure ability of the French side gets them through games, Galthie has created a system that gets the best out of his incredibly physical pack, whilst recognising that Antoine Dupont is the best player in the world and you need to get the ball in his hands if you want to succeed.

Shaun Edwards

While Galthie has been very important to the success of the French side, it is hardly surprising to see the defence of the French side look brilliant when Shaun Edwards is the man in charge of that defence.

Edwards is one of many rugby players to have switched between Rugby Union and Rugby League, with an incredibly successful playing career in Rugby League. A year after retiring, he made the switch to coaching in Rugby Union, becoming the defence and backs coach for London Wasps.

Edwards was vital in creating a phenomenal Wasps side that won the English Premiership four times while he was with the team as well as two Heineken Cups. Edwards became had coach in 2005. His coaching got a lot of attention internationally and one of England biggest losses was watching Edwards go to Wales and become a legendary coach for a brilliant Welsh team.

The defence of the Wales team helped lead them to three Grand Slam victories as well as reaching the 2011 World Cup semi-finals. He joined the French side in 2020 and there has been brilliant success since.

The French side won their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2022 in a decade. It was partly due to some brilliant defensive performances, holding England to 13 points and Wales to just 9. Edwards has shown he can create brilliant defences and is one of the best motivators in rugby history.

Scott Robertson

Being New Zealand boss is probably one of the most difficult jobs in rugby. Ian Foster is currently under quite a lot of pressure for his job and it doesn’t help that in New Zealand, Scott Robertson looks like one of the best young coaches in the world.

Growing up in Tauranga, New Zealand, it is hardly suspring that Scott Robertson persuaded a career in rugby. It was a pretty successful rugby career with Robertson playing 86 times for the Crusaders, named in the Crusaders team of the decade for 1996-2005.

His coaching career actually started before his playing career finished, being head coach of a local club just after leaving the Crusaders but before his move to Europe. He began working for Canterbury Rugby under future Munster and Harlequins head coaches Rob Penney and then Tabai Matson.

His great success with the Canterbury side in his three years as head coach meant Robertson got the promotion to the Crusaders job. There really is not that much more than Robertson could have done in his time with the Crusaders. Since taking over in 2017, the Crusaders have won five straight Super Rugby titles, despite all of the chaos around Covid-19.

Known as a great manager of personalities, Robertson has done a great job managing the excellent pack of youngsters the Crusaders have, helping to turn guys like Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan and Pablo Matera into international superstars. It seems like more of a question of when rather than if Robertson gets the All Blacks job.

Andy Farrell

This summer, Irish rugby achieved their greatest feat in rugby, winning a series in New Zealand. With players like Johnny Sexton, Josh van der Flier and James Lowe taking most of the credit, the job that Andy Farrell has done is often overlooked.

Farrell is another of a group of phenomenal coaches who switched from Rugby League to Rugby Union, but Farrell did it during his playing career, finishing his career with Saracens. Farrell would join the coaching staff as an assistant after his playing career finished, becoming first-team coach in 2010.

Farrell’s next job could have easily sunk his coaching career as Farrell joined the England coaching ranks, becoming defence coach. Farrell was part of the England coaching staff who resigned following an abysmal World Cup campaign in 2015. The disappointment overshadowed the great work Farrell had done with England and in his time as British and Irish Lions defence coach.

But Farrell was able to rebuild his career, with Ireland recognising his brilliance. He was quickly snapped up as Ireland’s defence coach after a four month spell with Munster. With Joe Schmidt stepping down at the end of the 2019 World Cup, Farrell’s first head coaching job would be the Ireland job.

Since taking over, Ireland look like one of the best teams in the world. In fact, at the time of writing they are ranked as the best team in the world. Farrell is doing a brilliant job with Ireland and that has got to hurt England.

Michael Cheika

Surprisingly, Michael Cheika is the second Randwick legend to feature on this list. Much like Eddie Jones, Cheika had a good career and then go into coaching very quickly after finishing his playing career.

Cheika’s career in coaching took him first to Italy with Padova before returning to Randwick, taking them to a Shute Shield victory in 2004. Even after this short coaching career he landed the job with Leinster as their head coach.

His time in Ireland produced some considerable silverware, with Leinster winning the Heineken Cup in 2009 and the Celtic League in 2008. Cheika chose to leave for Stade Francais in 2010 but he struggled to really make a mark as the club struggled with off-field conflict and mediocre performances.

Cheika chose to return to his home country to coach the Waratahs and even took the side to their first ever Super Rugby title in 2014 thanks to some brilliant signings with guys like Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps and Taqele Naiyaravoro. The success brought attention from international sides and Cheika became Australias head coach.

In his four years in charge, Cheika struggled to get much consistency with the Australian side, but did take them to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final where they would lose to New Zealand. A quarter-final defeat ended his Australian career.

But not Cheika’s international career. He became head coach of Argentina in 2022 and would take them through to the World Cup. In his first year with the team they had brilliant wins over Australia and beat New Zealand in New Zealand.

Leo Cullen

Any European rugby fan will be able to tell you just how good Leinster have been over the last seven years. While having the majority of the international team helps, Leinster have been coached to perfect, thanks in part to Leo Cullen.

In terms of being a Leinster man, you can’t really be more of a Leinster man than Leo Cullen. Having started off representing them at schoolboy level, Cullen made his Leinster debut in 1998 as a towering lock. Cullen spent all but three years of his career at Leinster, winning multiple domestic trophies and three Heineken Cups where he was the captain in all three of the finals.

Only a year after retiring from playing with Leinster, he became the teams head coach and they have experienced brilliant success. In that time, Leinster have won four URC titles as well as the Champions Cup in 2018. Cullen’s success has also brought him two URC Coach of the Year awards.

While it is easy to look at the success and say that Cullen is a great coach, you can’t overlook the man manager that Cullen is. He has a brilliant staff around him with guys like Stuart Lancaster and Andrew Goodman. Cullen uses his staff brilliantly as well as having a very clear, fast paced style of rugby that is very similar to the one most of his players play with Ireland.

Mark McCall

Being in charge of Saracens means you’re never going to be the most liked coach in the world. There is certainly some people who will say that McCall and Saracens achievements will always have an asterisk by them after the salary cap breaches that relegated them to the Championship.

McCall did have a short playing career before coaching, but was forced to retire at the age of 31 due to a prolapsed disc. He began his coaching career with Ulster and he was head coach in 2004, taking them to a Celtic Cup two years later.

After a poor spell, he was head coach of Castres before becoming first team coach of Saracens for the 2009/10 season. His time with Saracens has produced one of the best domestic sides in English history.

During his time with the club, they have brought through some incredible international talent with guys like Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly who have all gone on to play for the Lions. These three and many more were part of the teams that won five Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups.

There is no doubt that Saracens spending over the salary cap will have helped their success, but McCall has still coached the team to a huge amount of success. He has also been able to consistently produce international talent, something he did at Castres and Ulster as well.

Rassie Erasmus

It seems right to put Rassie Erasmus alongside Mark McCall, as a couple of outspoken coaches who have experienced huge success. But the two men are very different.

Rassie Erasmus is a Springbok through and through, playing 36 times for his country. His coaching began in South Africa with the Cheetahs before spells with Western Province and the Stormers. Improvement always seemed to follow Erasmus with whichever domestic side he went to, leading the Cheetahs to two Currie Cup victories and the Stormers to second in the Super 14.

His domestic success included a short stint with Munster where he did manage to lead the side to the Pro12 final, being named coach of the season at the same time. While he has experienced some success domestically, Erasmus is one of the best coaches in the world because of his work internationally.

He first worked with South Africa in 2007, being a technical advisor to the Springboks when they won the Rugby World Cup in 2007. He was technical specialist in 2011, before becoming head coach in 2018. His time with the Springboks has brought massive changes but also massive success.

Erasmus had a brilliant 2019 where South Africa won the Rugby Championship as well as winning the World Cup later that year. It led him to be named World Rugby Coach of the year for 2019.

His coaching style plays to the abilities held by the South Africans. His criticisms of referees and openness to the media makes him one of the most interesting personalities in rugby and always someone to watch.

Rob Baxter

Saracens have certainly been a dominant team in England for the last decade, but what Rob Baxter has done with Exeter is truly special. There is not really any person as important to the history of the Chiefs than Baxter, who played for more than 14 years with the club and was captain for 10 of those.

Originally coaching with the University of Exeter, Baxter became head coach in 2009 and immediately took the team up to the Premiership. Over the next five years Baxter would establish a solid Premiership side while building an exciting young core with players like Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers.

This young core developed into a title winning team, with the Chiefs making five straight Premiership finals from 2016-2020, winning two of those in the process. 2020 was really their best season, with the Chiefs winning the Premiership and the Champions Cup.

The impressive part about this success is it is built on a group of local players. Guys like Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Joe Simmonds have all been crucial to the success of the team and are all local to Exeter, either growing up in Cornwall or Devon.

Baxter has been able to perfectly assemble a team of players who have come up through the youth ranks, while complimenting the team with international superstars like Stuart Hogg and Alex Cuthbert.

When Eddie Jones leaves the England set up after the World Cup, Baxter looks like the right guy to take over and he has been part of the England coaching staff in the future.

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