As a coach Darren Coleman got the wooden spoon, as a bloke he’s a bloody legend


In real life you’d take a good bloke with no luck over a s–t bloke who’s a jammy bastard every time. But coaching pro sports teams isn’t real life.

Super Rugby lost, at least for now, one of its very best blokes when Darren Coleman bowed out as a wooden-spoon coach in another one-point loss to the Queensland Reds on Friday night in Sydney.

It was Coleman’s fourth loss by three points or fewer this season – and came after his new flyhalf Jack Bowen had a chance to win the game, but slipped and shanked the decisive shot.

The loss brought the curtain down on a three year reign at the club, and he departed with no sense of injustice. Like his gracious and grown up media conference 10 days ago, he departed the Sydney Football Stadium for the last time with good humour and blunt self-assessment.

“I feel particularly for the supporters. They got behind us there and they’ve been willing that on all year. I just feel really bad we couldn’t even deliver at the end there for them,” said Coleman, his first thought, after his players, for the fans.

His former player, Michael Hooper, asked Coleman to reflect on the year just gone. A tough question on another night of pain.

Waratahs head coach Darren Coleman interacts with fans after the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium, on May 31, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“Jesus, that’s a good question, Hoops. A little early,” he said.

But it was a stretch of games from round three to six, where the team lost by two to the Highlanders and Blues and three in golden point away to Fiji, then by six to the Rebels at home, that rattled him and the team.

“I probably didn’t give enough credit to the psychological toll that four-game streak from round three to six was. 

“We had four games like that tonight where we just lost and maybe around that time we started losing those front rowers and that was probably a bit of a change point.

“What would I change? Oh, there’s lots of things. Probably more around me and my leadership and a couple of things I could have done better but I’m just thankful. I’m just really thankful I got the opportunity.

“It’s been a dream of mine to coach in Super Rugby and particularly coach my home state. I’ll reflect. It’s a sour taste at the moment from this year but I don’t want to look back at it.”

Coleman is now on the look out for a new job. It might be tough to find a head coaching gig of the same level but that’s his comfort zone.

“I know there’s been some shit times for sure and some low points. You lose confidence and you question things but I’m just lucky,”he said.

“Not many people get to do what I’ve got to do the last three years. I’ll go away and I’ll work on my game. I thought for a while there, what would I do after this? Do I want to stay in this sort of role? It’s all I’ve ever done.

“You just get used to living for that. It’s like a junkie. You’ve got to live for that weekend. It doesn’t matter the level for me. I’ll stay coaching because I just love it so much.”

Before heading off into the night and either a few schooners or as he suggested a quiet night in bed, Coleman signed off with another top bloke moment.

“It’s been a dream of mine to coach in Super Rugby, in particular coach my home state.” ???? DC bows out.

↳ Super Rugby Pacific. Waratahs v Reds. Every Match. Ad-free. Live & On Demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport.#StanSportAU #SuperRugbyPacific #WARvRED @NSWWaratahs

— Stan Sport Rugby (@StanSportRugby) May 31, 2024

“I just love rugby so much and the people involved and just to see the kids there tonight.

“The state needs a winning team and I understand why I’m moving on and I just really wish the next person good luck because if we can get this team winning, we’ll fill this joint and I’ll be here cheering.”

Some people have all the luck. It’s just a shame DC isn’t one of them.

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