Rugby ATL Will Test the American Coaching System

Scott Lawrence may have departed Georgia, but his coaching tree will have its first chance to grow.

Rugby ATL announced the promotion of Steve Brett from assistant coach to Head Coach. Blake Bradford was elevated to Assistant Head Coach, while Lucas Baistrocchi will add Skills to his former title of Strength and Conditioning Coach.

The announcements are a reshuffling of the current group without any additions.

The moves aren’t revolutionary, but they could have been far worse. Atlanta was starting to show signs of dysfunction. At least they avoided the ‘co-head coaches’ debacle that San Diego experienced last year.

The less inspiring reality is that the same work will be split three ways instead of four. With camps nearly complete, this coaching team will have to find its structure quickly.

The success of Brett will be an interesting early test of the American coaching system. Most MLR teams are coached by foreign managers. Brett is a Kiwi, but his coaching experience is all American. (His previous role was with the now defunct Colorado Raptors.) Lawrence milked everything and a bit more out of his roster. Can Brett do the same? Answer: only if Lawrence also managed to get the best out of Brett.

The training of coaches remains an underappreciated part of sports. Some coaches prepare their assistants to take on higher roles within the organization, while some insist on hiring when roles open up. Then, a few head coaches go above and beyond, training their assistants to eventually take a top job. Did Scott Lawrence make an effort to groom Brett to coach an MLR team?

In some ways, Brett will have an advantage in his first year. He didn’t have to assemble a staff. This one is a known commodity, both around the league and in Atlanta. The disadvantage is that Atlanta’s ownership knows that as well. Brett will spend all year working to convince new owners that he should have an extended stay in the big chair.

Something else to watch out for: why were these coaches willing to sign in these new roles?

Pay increases were likely. For Brett, its a chance at a top job. Any competitor would crave the chance to prove themself. But the availability of Scott Lawrence hovers over every decision. If they stay in Atlanta, it means that either Lawrence wasn’t interested in taking them with him should he take another job, they didn’t want to join him, or Lawrence isn’t planning on another role in the immediate future.

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