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Trinity Rugby learns from the masters

Published: August 1st 2018

In order to be the best you need to learn from the best. Which is why DUFC’s (Trinity Rugby) Director of Rugby Tony Smeeth has spent the summer swotting up ahead of another hectic season in Division 1 of the All Ireland League (AIL).

Tony, who has been with the club since 1998, is not long back from a two-week stint in New Zealand with Crusaders, where he did the International High Performance Unit (IHPU) elite training programme with 11 others from around the globe.

“I’d known about it for years and always said I’d love to do it one day.” Between one thing and another Tony had the capacity to do it this summer so he jumped at the chance.

Tony, who travelled to Christchurch with seconds coach John Butler, says Crusaders are like the Leinster of the southern hemisphere. “There are about 12 or 13 All Blacks there and a lot of the All Blacks culture comes from there.”

This, the culture, was probably the main take-away from the two weeks. Although he still has about 50 hours of footage from the fortnight that he needs to sift through!

“They just don’t accept any kind of toxic culture at Crusaders. They have loads of little sayings such as ‘whinge up’ – if you’ve got a problem whinge up to head coach Scott Robertson about it, not down.

“They’ve also got this thing called ‘through the fire’. It’s basically about giving honest feedback. You know my role, I know yours – if I’m not doing my role you can call me out on it and vice versa, it’s not personal. I like the idea of guys calling it out without being bitchy,” says Tony.

He found a lot of the teachings really empowering, even though many of his values and the way DUFC currently coaches would be very New Zealand and Australia influenced anyway.

Another insight was how completely aligned the entire set-up is at Crusaders and the benefits to be reaped from this. “The infrastructure blew me away. I just couldn’t believe how aligned they were.”

The timing of the IHPU programme couldn’t have been better, coming, as it does, prior to the start of another hectic season. “We are very new this year,” says Tony, alluding to the fact that the men’s first team has lost 12 players going into the 2018-2019 season. “It’s the third year in a row in which I feel like we’re rebuilding.”

The New Zealand trip is a timely reminder too of areas in which Tony himself feels he can up his own game: “You’ve got to look in the mirror first.”

  • Trinity men’s first team begin their season with a Leinster League home fixture to Old Belvedere on Saturday September 1. Fixtures for the year can be viewed on our calendar.