Friday 19 April 2019

'I'm pretty resilient' - Bernard Jackman on the challenges of a coaching career and his time at the Dragons

Bernard Jackman left his role as Dragons head coach last December. Photo by Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile
Bernard Jackman left his role as Dragons head coach last December. Photo by Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

Bernard Jackman says that he hopes to return to coaching in the summer or after the World Cup, but thinks that it is important for coaches to have other options outside rugby.

Jackman left the Dragons in December just 18 months into a three-year deal after the Welsh side made a poor start to the 2018/19 season.

Jackman was previously the head coach with Grenoble in the Top 14, and served as the club's defence coach before that. The former Leinster and Connacht hooker has been involved in coaching since retiring in 2010 and speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Aldi, Jackman opened up on the challenges a career in coaching throws up.

Jackman has lost his job twice in the last few years - at Grenoble and the Dragons - and says that although leaving the club last December was a hard situation, he benefited from his family being based in Dublin.

"It's very tough," he said.

"We weren't able to get the wins that we needed to, short-term, but there was very much a long-term plan there around bringing through players. The Dragons have more players in the Welsh squad than they've ever had and the plan was to recruit again this summer to make them successful, but you know as a head coach that you are going to be scrutinised by results.

"I was very lucky that my family was in Dublin.

"If I had left the Dragons in December and the kids were in school in Wales, you would have five months of panic to figure out what's next. The fortunate thing for us was that after we left France we decided to put down some roots in Dublin and to have a base here, and for me to commute and chase that and leave my wife to look after the family here."

Jackman says that while he loves coaching, he thinks it is important for people to have outside options so they aren't under too much pressure to deliver results.

"If you are absolutely reliant on coaching for a living, then you are always going to be under massive stress," Jackman added.

"That can impact your ability to do the job. I love coaching and I'm massively passionate about it but I don't feel that I need to do it to provide. I've worked with coaches that are always stressed about the result but I think if you wake up on Monday morning and are worried about whether Saturday's result will impact your ability to put bread on the table, it's very hard to be good on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."

Jackman is currently doing media work during his time away from coaching, including a column in the Sunday Independent, but is hoping to 'bounce back' from his latest setback and join a team in the summer or after the World Cup.

"I'm pretty resilient," he said.

"I've had a lot of set-backs and I've always managed to bounce back a little bit higher. It doesn't really impact me. It impacts your family and people around you, and people worry about you, but I'm pretty thick-skinned.

"This year there will probably be two cycles of coaching changes," Jackman said.

"June will be one cycle and there will probably be another one post-World Cup. We will see what happens."

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