The coaches that fucked up your club

When a coach arrives at a major league club, fresh and excited to make his own mark in the history books, you’d have to think that, as a minimum threshold for success, he’d want to leave the place in better shape than when he arrived. Sometimes, the vagaries of reality make it difficult to assess a coach’s legacy but we can definitely ignore nuance and simplify things down to a nice looking line on a graph.

For this, we use Class Elo ratings. Over this kind of time frame, you can think of the rating as a glorified win-loss stock ticker. It goes up when the team wins and it goes down when the team loses. The rating goes up more for unexpected wins and goes down more for unexpected losses. Grand finals are weighted the heaviest, then finals and then regular season games. Challenge Cup results are included for Super League teams. You can see each team’s class Elo rating history for NRL and Super League.

This post compares different coaches at each club and see how they improved the club’s rating from their first game. I’ve included most, but not all of, the coaches for each club over the last two decades. Caretakers have generally been excluded. I used rugbyleagueproject.org (DONATE TO THE PATREON) to determine the extents of careers but it may not be 100% complete for coaching details and career lengths may be out by a few games. It is very hard to find out which round a coach was sacked from a club in 2003 if it’s not on RLP. 

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Title aside, people have a habit of seeing what they want to see. I don’t need to impart any further agenda to these graphs. If you’re a fan, you can provide your own context or excuses or other explanations for why this doesn’t show what it absolutely seems to show.

For example, it is much easier to repair a team’s rating when it’s terrible upon arrival and vice versa. Craig Bellamy’s successor is going to struggle to maintain Melbourne’s lofty status. This speaks somewhat to the role of luck in being a coach. Tony Smith was able to capitalise on Bradford’s long decline to build Warrington into one of the Big Four. Had Bradford not failed so disastrously, would Warrington have been strong enough to displace them? It’s worth keeping this in mind as you work your way down the page.

Jump ahead

rfl-brd Bradford

Bradford Bulls Coaches

nrl-bne Brisbane

Brisbane Broncos Coaches

nrl-cbr Canberra

Canberra Raiders Coaches

nrl-cnt Canterbury

Canterbury Bulldogs Coaches

esl-cas Castleford

Castleford Tigers Coaches

esl-cat Catalans

Catalans Dragons Coaches

nrl-cro Cronulla

Cronulla Sharks Coaches

nrl-gct Gold Coast

Gold Coast Titans Coaches

esl-hud Huddersfield

Huddersfield Giants Coaches

esl-hfc Hull FC

Hull FC Coaches

esl-hkr Hull Kingston Rovers

Hull Kingston Rovers Coaches

esl-lee Leeds

Leeds Rhinos Coaches

nrl-man Manly

Manly Sea Eagles Coaches

nrl-mel Melbourne

Melbourne Storm Coaches

nrl-new Newcastle

Newcastle Knights Coaches

nrl-nzw New Zealand

New Zealand Warriors Coaches

nrl-nqc North Queensland

North Queensland Cowboys Coaches

nrl-par Parramatta

Parramatta Eels Coaches

nrl-pen Penrith

Penrith Panthers Coaches

esl-sal Salford

Salford Red Devils Coaches

nrl-ssr South Sydney

South Sydney Rabbitohs Coaches

nrl-sgi St George Illawarra

St George Illawarra Coaches

esl-shl St Helens

St Helens Coaches

nrl-esr Sydney

Sydney Roosters Coaches

esl-wak Wakefield Trinity

Wakefield Trinity Coaches

esl-war Warrington

Warrington Wolves Coaches

nrl-wst Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers Coaches

esl-wig Wigan

Wigan Warriors Coaches