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    Prendy at Grenoble

    IF I CAN MAKE IT HERE... ; A year in France may be making of
    Prendergast [Eire Region Edition 2]
    Aug. 25 (Mail on Sunday) –

    NEXT Wednesday is a big stepping stone for Grenoble's new skills and assistant backs
    coach, Mike Prendergast.
    Fiancee Shona and eight-year-old daughter Emma finally join
    him on his latest overseas adventure.
    Claix, a little village a few kilometres outside the city
    in the footholds of the Alps, will be home, Prendergast renting
    a house after spending his initial months at the Top 14 club
    living in a B&B. It sounds ideal. Having enrolled their girl in
    the same all- French school as Bernard Jackman's daughter, they
    had wanted to go back to France for some time.
    They'd lived there before but a hasty decision by the
    former Munster scrum-half meant their stay at Bourgoin was
    short-lived, just a single season. He put pen to paper with
    Gloucester midway through, a decision quickly regretted.
    'I always felt when I left Bourgoin that we should have
    stayed,' he reflects. 'It took us a while to settle in and by
    Christmas I'd signed with Gloucester (for the following
    season).
    It was only after that we settled and realised we liked
    it.' The family's return six years on owes much to Jackman,
    Grenoble's defence and collision coach. Prendergast built a
    rapport with the former Leinster hooker in recent years, so
    when the club's head coach Fabrice Landreau suggested he might
    recruit a skills expert, Jackman promptly recommended his pal.
    Numerous Skype chats followed.
    Some visits, too, with Prendergast trialling what he had to
    offer to the squad at training. A one-year deal then
    materialised in April. It mightn't sound much. Heading abroad
    without the guarantee of a longer stint is a risk Prendergast
    wasn't under pressure to take.
    He'd been director at Young Munster for four seasons, a
    role supplemented by a two-year assistant's position at Munster
    A. However, the burning desire to coach at a higher level took
    precedence, tempting him to leave behind the apparent security
    of life in Limerick.
    'With any sport, you just don't know what is happening
    around the corner,' he reasons a few days after roaring his
    county's hurlers on to no avail via TV in Grenoble. 'This time
    last year, would I have known I was coming to France to coach
    and moving my family over here? No.
    'But that opportunity has, fortunately, come up. It's an
    invaluable experience. The security isn't there but that goes
    with the territory. It's a results-driven game, but hard work
    is a huge part. Keep the head down, worry about the here-andnow
    and see what happens. I'm on a year's contract but so far so
    good. The feedback has been good off the other coaches.
    Hopefully, a couple of more years might come of it.' It would
    make for quite a story. All hype in Ireland about Top 14 has
    focused on the arrival of Jonathan Sexton and Ronan O'Gara at
    Racing Metro, but the presence of Jackman and Prendergast at
    Grenoble is intriguing.
    General consensus is the IRFU, in employing so many
    overseas coaches at provincial and national level, hasn't much
    faith in indigenous talent.
    But Prendergast, the 36-year-old who first dabbled in
    coaching 13 years ago, is optimistic change will eventually
    occur. Make it in France, he figures, and you should make it
    anywhere.
    'Top 14 is the best league in the world. Look at some of
    the squads and the array of stars. As an experience it's huge,
    something that will definitely stand to you.
    COMING to France is a different step. Different language,
    different culture. It's a big challenge but it's something that
    will be looked upon well for future references. 'You're
    constantly upskilling. In our squad we've eight different
    nationalities. Then you have the French coaches as well with
    different ideas, different outlooks, different backgrounds, so
    you're always picking up the small bits and pieces.' He loves
    the French flair, their famed ability to instinctively play
    what's in front of them. Their upbringing, he suggests, is the
    reason.
    'I remember the Bourgoin training ground was near a school
    and I saw the same six-to-10-yearolds out doing PE every single
    day. 'It wasn't rugby every day. It might have been soccer,
    volleyball, whatever, but they had that hand-eye coordination
    and it's something that always stuck with me.
    'I remember Declan Kidney at a coaching conference saying
    when Ireland were in New Zealand last summer they were driving
    through estates in their bus and noticed the amount of kids out
    playing.
    'Whatever sport, they're out playing every day with a ball
    and have that hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately, many Irish
    kids are at home on computers and what not.
    'The weather has a lot to do with that. I've been here (in
    Grenoble) three months and it's been sunshine bar two or three
    days. That does make a difference... but the French just have
    that natural flair.
    'I genuinely believe if and maybe when they get on top of
    the technical side of the game they will be a frightening
    proposition, both at club and international level.' Prendergast
    and O'Gara are viewed as trailblazers in their line of
    expertise. French clubs don't traditionally employ skills
    coaches, but the Irish duo's arrival could alter the landscape.
    Having chatted last month at Paul O'Connell's wedding in
    Auch, the pair catch up again in early October when Grenoble
    face Racing in Paris. By then, Prendergast, with 90-minute
    classes twice a week, hopes to hold his own in conversation
    with his old half-back partner.
    'The rugby language, rugby French as I call it, you can get
    it quickly as you're speaking it every day. It's repetition.
    'I'd a tiny bit from my year at Bourgoin, but the
    challenging part is conversations in the office. That's where
    it's difficult but luckily I've Bernard there to translate and
    he's unbelievably helpful.' Outside of vowing to help Grenoble
    be more consistent (they lost 34-6 at Castres last night),
    Prendergast tips money- spinning Toulon, who visit on Saturday,
    to win the league.
    He also lauds the pluck of young Irish novices who've
    linked up with French club academies, such as Sexton's brother
    Jerry at Auch and Shane O'Leary at Grenoble.
    'They didn't pick up anything at home and had the
    opportunity to come over, so why not see how it goes for a
    year? It's a great experience for them.' A great experience for
    Prendergast, too.
    Top 14 is the best league in the world, an experience that
    will definitely be looked upon well
    Seas suas agus troid!

    #2
    Originally posted by LLCOOLJ14 View Post
    IF I CAN MAKE IT HERE... ; A year in France may be making of
    Prendergast [Eire Region Edition 2]
    Aug. 25 (Mail on Sunday) –

    Eire

    Comment


      #3
      Great stuff, hope it works out for him. Was at a Grenoble game a couple of years back, think former Connacht second row Browne was captain... nice little rugby club in a lovely city
      Marty in the Morning

      Comment


        #4
        Not so sure that T14 is the greatest League since sliced pan. Very disjointed because small number of clubs have a sugar daddy and the rest are well the rest . The Big Squads are caused by the number games they must play not that the sugar daddies want to have so many players on books. Not sure BJ was that great a genius coach here. Lot of hype going on so Prendergast needs to watch out.

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