Sunday, August 4, 2019
New Volcanix coach Rodney Gibbs and Steamers coach Clayton McMilan were rivals while playing for their clubs. But as Steamers players they shared a common philosophy, developing Bay rugby.
Gibbs, currently the Head of Women’s Performance Rugby at Bay Rugby, is looking forward to his first season in charge of the Volcanix, saying his journey to becoming the coach has been intertwining with his men’s counterpart.
A former first-five-eight for the Steamers and his club Te Puke Sports, Gibbs says he often came up against McMillan who played No. 8 for Whakarewarewa.
“He was pretty uncompromising and a real competitive guy on the field but that was what it was like in those days. If you weren’t competitive you got spat out the back door. We had a pretty strong rivalry with Whaka. We had some really good battles.”
However, that rivalry was also mixed with mutual respect for one another especially when they wore the Steamers jersey. Gibbs played for the Steamers in 2000, while McMillan was captain at the time.
“As coaches, I think we both like to evolve, we like to be a little bit innovative and think about the game outside the square at times,” Gibbs says.
“So, I think we match along those lines. If you think about the team environment, we also think similarly around team values and that sort of thing.”
Gibbs says after retiring from playing for Te Puke in 2002, he decided to look at coaching.
“It was a general progression in those days. I had a little venture into it me and a mate, there was no coach at the club while we were still playing. It wasn’t too successful, but we learnt a lot.
“I then decided, when I finished playing there was the opportunity to go into the club and coach. We had some pretty good players actually and I was excited to have a proper crack at it.”
In 2010, Gibbs took his first foray into higher coaching honours picking up the assistant coaching job with the Under-21 Bay side alongside head coach at the time, Scott Cameron.
It was around this time Gibbs and McMillan, who were now both coaching their clubs, got the chance to work alongside one another once again. This time the pair were in charge of the Bay of Plenty Development Team. Both men have held various roles within the Union.
However, McMillan would eventually go on and become head coach of the Steamers in 2015 and he quickly called on Gibbs to remain in the position of assistant coach. A role he had taken on during Kevin Schuler’s reign as head coach.
This year’s Farah Palmer Cup gets underway on August 31, with the Volcanix first game against Counties Manukau at Tauranga Domain, with kick-off at 2.30pm.
Gibbs says it’s a great challenge taking on the head coach role with the Volcanix.
“I think you have a responsibility to the game and to the ladies. It’s a pretty exciting time in the world of female rugby at the moment. There is a lot going on, there are some challenges. I think it’s more exciting than anything.
“The interesting part for me, historically when you look at it especially rugby. The female game has been generally modelled on the male’s structure. So, the challenge is to set things up from a female perspective” Gibbs says.
The coach believes younger players coming up through the rugby ranks need education around balancing life around rugby and what comes after when their playing career comes to an end.
Gibbs will name his squad in the coming weeks and says rugby pundits will see some exciting selections for this year’s squad.
“In general, we will have the best players that we’ve seen on show. There maybe a couple of surprises. I think trying to get a good balance of what is good for us right now and also what is going to be good for us in the next two to three years is important.
“I think to have a sustainable programme we’ve got to start looking more to our future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to win right now. That’s what we want to do, that’s our job. But we need to set ourselves up for the future as well.”
The Volcanix play three home games, the two first home games will be free entry for the public and the final home game will be a double header with the Steamers. To purchase tickets for the double header game, click here.
Volcanix Home Games
Volcanix vs Counties Manukau at Tauranga Domain, August 31, at 2.30pm
Volcanix vs Auckland at Rugby Park, Whakatane, September 14, at 2.30pm
Volcanix vs Manawatu at Tauranga Domain, October 4, at 12.35pm
Bay of Plenty Volcanix 2019 Management
Head Coach: Rodney Gibbs
Assistant Coaches: Tanerau Latimer & Matt Wallis
Manager: Gareth Duncan
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach: Slade King
Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach: Loretta Hogg
Physio: Anna Ness
Analyst: Kiki Tahere