2020 was Steve Mitchell’s first year as the General Manager of Rugby Southland. After nearly 6 years at Tasman he moved south and it was great to get to talk to him about his first season. Not only was there COVID to deal with but also uncertainty around Rugby Park. Also a couple of disappointing seasons in the Mitre 10 Cup.
It was wonderful to hear how building blocks like the womens academy, better performances on the pitch with the Mitre 10 Cup side and in other off the pitch areas points toward progress in years to come.
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This is the great jersey that I mention in the interview:
so yeah hello welcome to this special edition of the DrivingMaul show here looking back at Southland’s to twenty twenty season with special guest Steve Mitchell it was being very patient with me because I forgot to press record the first time we’re ten minutes an absolute idiot only I’m very sorry to him and hopefully the Senate via we’ll be cranking but so thank you very much twenty St I’m your first season as the general manager at some Southland and it’s like looking at your linkedin profile you joined in Michael one of like three questions going to be how is COVID change the role but I guess arriving in the middle of coverage you’ve got another question for you but so yeah it’s a tough stocks took to land exactly doing the hardest time prospers road in the last well hello yeah it was always going to be a bit of a challenge coming down here regardless because that in the in the always stuck at home I couldn’t get down here until my took the job and I will but observing them them and got to meet the staff and also some of the club there’s no weeds or meetings with up to seventy percent depends on his side so it didn’t quite get my feet on the ground but it started saying who was who and who was doing what yeah and they got down here my it was some yeah that that down here the people are very welcoming and that pleased to see somebody coming along committing to the call was answered yeah challenging but it was always going to be a challenge yes you have to know the five years with jasmine one of the well most functional ritual unions around I’m too with the yeah the CEO that million season you took a fund and see that one back to back championships to come from that too south which is reputation outside at least all I’m the strongest finances since the G. around the ground this is well was it must have a a big challenge for you don’t your body I’m not surprised what is not about six years ago to come and help them and and when I first went in it was two goals one was to win the premiership and the other one was to host the festival black teas sorry as of last year but those goals retreat so it was time for a new challenge and lucky enough that my son had come home from Australia and he’s prepared to look up to the farmers my wife so I look for a new adventure server must come down people along some for the first six months and then my wife comes down after Christmas but look you know if you wanna make a big difference for the site was testing the straight guy happened so that’s why I accepted so there’s a few things down if I made a bucket list and I going into field on god’s Joe Dawson but she shot my first deer about two three weeks ago N. yes so you know it’s saying the whole top of the self on the cover just packed up and went to retirement but I wanted to know the challenge and here we are so if those two goals were arriving at Tasman are you a lot so is a is a public what you what your goals are full the second is it’s we’re jumping ship hi still backs well first of all let’s say she just to get my feet on the ground and have a look at the existing structure and make some well that’s a quick runs they’re open to unions are being charged with creating a beat bonds cost effective organization to deliver but the community of the art form it’s going and that’s a challenge for a soul describes support down here it is okay previous to see great people these possibly bring some challenging and quick changes of management there hasn’t been a lot of consistency United people referred to me as the revolving door of rugby Southland in regards to star so what I’d like to draw those created that was via an organization that keeps its people it’s it’s good people it’s clear directional with I want to go that’s probably the might you go was actually get the organization operating effectively then from there yeah definitely not so much the previous ship initially the championship about to win the championship within three years about to get back into a home of rugby them here rugby pack I don’t like to increase game attendance and as a side steak conformance as well as for the support the community yeah so some of the community game all your urinary one of the rural opponents to see the country clubs as well see clubs quite a big area that you that you cover hello how with the help of some civil what could be a little numb so financially still we also keep going and have have the have good grounds how was it hello I was once you know when I first got down here the first time I went to was deaf to the game and it was at a pioneer honestly the crowd was three day around the ground and the clubhouse was just chalk it was pumping it was what people really waiting for something to happen to get it up and socially in direct that was pretty impressive I’m also down here you go right down to the prisons cries so you’ve got you know the big boys the store right around the fob so it’s not necessarily fully focused on all the computer itself which is really pleasing to say the clubs are strong we’ve just myself and some of the community staff just bring attending the AGM I’m just putting us at rugby cellphone by slow so the clubs that hold the right teams and the of the strength of the clubs down here the financial sustainability the good people you know it’s it’s it’s I mean it’s just about sign whatever needs on but then he gets very pleasing to see the clouds are strong with thirty three clubs across this region and as you said it’s a massive regions properties for an obvious from once on the other the the the the the the the club to secure all financially it and will be will be continued to be the hub social hubs especially in the role of whether it whether we are part of the social hub of the of the community I’m looking at some I’m talking about some sort of things on the Democrat we had a chat with him earlier in the season just before but as a preview for the US super for these arguments and Cup I was interested that he’s sort of he’s a little good work that has me raising the standard although some of the club gang so the plans already took to come into my symptoms what even if they all from the yeah second version it correct that was been down here for a couple years and as assistant coach he would have me meet with all the club personnel he he he’s got quite clear expectations on if you want to get to a certain level and you’ve got to be able to perform at this rate this you know ability and I’m sorry so the players out there in clubland not what it takes to be a state and and so yeah he has he’s gone and he does a lot of country ducation senior level as well and just trying to create a clear and fully understood pathway for those club personnel to get to the top level he also has a realistic view on the the athletes if you like you know he likes to keep an eye on them to make sure that everything in the laws of clicking so they came right to the top top performance he’s done a hell of a lot of work and I think you’re we were saying this year we’ve had a couple of two class ever run for the stags we’ve got all the other boys and probably one to two years away from prying at state level but they are running with that water training groups we’ve got a an academy in a pre academy we trust on strength and conditioning eleven swimming in some sort of what’s on the hit that level well well aware what what’s required to be a state yeah I’m with them well sure that wikipedia is correct it looks like yes my twelve players have to join the squad Jews who ulti injuries along the white one of the comments he made in the the pre show look well the the film was this so it’s not just important high up top team is you gonna need this opportunity to go to have that second third set of plans available if you want to be challenging for the championship right can I. D. Davis is it is a key component of not only that you know you just building faces all the time sorry that I once he goes through and gets up to the next level then you’ve got another team coming throwing yeah that’s it that’s something that dial sees a real need for that something that I fully support that we are trying to build dates right across all grades and and just you know create that pathway to urinate and easily understandable Sir I’m he also got in the season all to the was was was a good stepping stone lost you you you you won just one game and watch and cuff this yet three plus you will close in a few more as well so I’m well so I can not not snow on the final stretch not what you would like to you go to your happy with the the the step forward that you sort my checkup ship look on you know a little bit of a tough critic so you yes yes when I first came down here are cool to guns and get off the bottom of the title would be if you go but as I got down here and also the potential in the tank I thought four wins in the semi final would bring probably true reflection of of the capability we have within the tiny so far below the end of the day great crawl the R. Romeo said the boys I think they let themselves down that with a little extra by which we could eventually got to the semi finals and and to be honest the prize a great buys a great and and so that you so you know the expectation next year so that that again that those boys that cried a little it will come back and I will lift that label another five ten fifteen degrees and by a little bit harder a little bit faster little more combatants but for me personally it was great to see a belief in the tank it was great to see a belief growing back in the community I mean some of the guns right we had some seven and a half dozen people of that believe awning fundraiser that legal thank you I mean that was a mess of that’s the biggest crowd that had some rugby packed quite some time I would be a tiger we’ve been told by E. books by took it out and we beat them at a time when we played outside go that’s the first time in seven and a half years so you know I had talked to the guys I played well but some of you know some of the losses were pretty hard to swallow at one point we were eight points away from five from five so you’re right so the potential is there the potential is there and and the expectations are clear and the players know what what I need to double I don’t know like how you put it you didn’t say you guys have failed this year to to to cheat you said you’d like self doubt the not so they’re great different ways of delivering a message and it’s and that’s a much more positive way of doing it and yes ma’am I like to it is good to hear that so that the language within the within the organization I’m the only section of the the year what is the main challenge and what is being made success you think or all that sort of thing the ship these roles are quite complicated you know you’re you’re you’re dealing with a wide and varied groups of stakeholders you’re dealing with everything from councils to club representative stern on the sex coach to you know high performance athlete so the challenge is that across the board will be the the the biggest change if you like the biggest change is the belief is and I I think I think up to four or five years of being bottom of the table it was pretty hard for people to be positive about the stakes I must admit the community down hill up the rugby and later left the stags everywhere you go these stakes he but it’s on the take up whether it’s on the back of a young with difference it’s just everywhere and I left the state exam they don’t expect us to win every game but they expect us to compete and how to install it which also really wasn’t the case and this year it’s it’s a change its tune and yet the positivity and the town is huge around them so well I think like I say I think we perform blood at the scene to the Shia and and I’m really looking forward to another left next year well I think the biggest successes Pepsi training Jersey that was the the nicest Josie in the in the country a lot that really love not that one that I think that that should be a plane just because we’re not solved was was was what was what was great I’m how do you see could be changing French rugby wacky thing Brooklyn’s rugby is excuse kind of heading on opens this idea of records meeting this evening with New Zealand rugby council’s budget a bunch of stuff so and I’m sure those things that you canceled out but what’s your vision for where weapons were he’s going if I just sort of the bank bank about that I think because it is showing that that the community guy of rugby as massive hello everyone came at a lock down just the enthusiasm and the the amount of people at clubs and the positivity around club rugby that just shows that rugby is more than a high performance guy that is a strong community guide and it does gel and that the community that provides all sorts of social physical activity and opportunities for a wide range of community page so hello though because it has come with some folks in some issues and everything it certainly highlighted to me that they they speak the bad guy was somewhat under license and the community I miss you it’s absolutely huge and that is that is the bicycle which we go the other challenges you know that the changes and and the opportunity to revisit rugby given the financial challenges I mean they’re all going that’s as far as a self going to consume we are right Martine provincial union Jamie and we will continue to break you know we will certainly perform a marketing level and we will continue to buy at that level the other things are the funding issues I mean you know everybody’s facing funding issues a whole lot we’ve got some really strong support down here with city of Bendigo to revisit it commercial marketing focus and probably does this firing come strings a little bit more but you know the challenges everybody spicing and the yeah you know with every challenge comes opportunity so you yes but you also said you you’re you’re you’re hot sauce small screen you’ve done the review for the much a Cup team what it comes to your annual review and you said you can vote on that set really too well which gives us the sustainable community and a high performance guidance are used which we missed weeks of your main goal so how would you what grade would you give yourself this season and how do you get done with with that goal in mind as opposed to us as you say the food was actually on my sync up there was more down the clouds but they certainly will you’ve got much more much they got a listing I thought you know if I had to write a script on how things are going to go when I got here to be honest it’s gone slightly better than I thought you know there’s been some changes and both governments focus well brought back some key stakeholders we’ve got Mr Robert just come on to the borders the president which is some work to the union the president which is really good I mean you know it depends on each of the and the grand Daddy Daddy or whoever speaks Lister so getting some of those old soldiers back around the table as some beneficial got Jimmy calendar them Jason Rutledge road award for the same everywhere we’ve gone with an old state come on and run more for the same and you know the old like me was going to present the jerseys and tell the young fellas what it means to be a stake in what it means to be a steak pie you can start talking about so just trying to bring pride and ownership back to the Jersey not made personally but the wider community the community that harms us rugby down here a look of it to make some tough calls on some staffing structures and on some you know some roles and probably surplus especially given the challenges on the carpet gotta refocus on the J. I. B. development from them to J. B. offices we looking to employ a few more focus on the kids and getting more kids into the game a grassroots working alongside council trying to get back into the harbor rugby what ships so you’re not going quite positively that’s been a bit of an issue for quite some time yes Sir not a bunk think it’s it’s gone quite well been random visited as many clubs as I can but I can sense a massive catchment yes so just try to work it out and yet you know new challenges in school thirty three of them no I haven’t been to about twelve I think better yeah look at those three and a half as across the cross on catchment both wise and try to find you I read when you don’t log but anyway it’s OK people have been really welcoming it will be quite pleased with the way things have gone up it’s only been impressed with the way the stakes have changed so yes no that’s so pretty positive on hidden behind for a month ward yeah on the night and to be honest to get away in charge my batteries and see my family coming batching Danny which is a bit unusual for me after thirty years miss the dog must attend school must monitor black bin anyway you’re not gonna charge batteries and come back around so I’m really looking forward to great things like possibly I’m I guess warning this piece that does it’s been missing from the puzzle that suddenly we see I think is L. places is a proponent upside is that right is is there a plan to to go who is going up so you kind of are pumped up sidewalks or other any country that every it was certainly with employed a young lady by the name of George Mason who played fifty four guys trust Tigers purchased tough luck and saw flanker and she’s only been employed this year so we’re doing all sorts of analysis across the numbers we were at the great thing about it was I think women’s teams this year because of not the bank and yeah yes the girls who have a lot of capability down this area up until recently open told why so it some so somehow we have to create the create numbers and then keeping care to keep the media we are the only provincial union with their affair probably kept saying so yes it does it go I’ve got a meeting early in January was that John I get for means it and Kendra were previously working there at all is involved in this division with their team and jasmine sorry well aware of the work that needs to be done a bit reluctant to put it on the pads aim to get a hardened so we have all been working an academy at the minute running along saw the young ladies and we’ve got quite a few cars coming and doing strength and conditioning nutrition and school see training as well so you so it’s in the pipeline but it needs to be done properly not so great and you can this you see that’s the site retaining that talent is is a big issue and said which has been with the difference between the men’s and women’s sides that they have is some the date again that that retention of those agreements but as difficult and hence they don’t have it that that would suck a lot less competitive with them and so I am it’s great to hear that there’s all these building blocks been put in place for because like from the outside of the we don’t see this right here will see that but having the economy is clearly a significant step towards being a promising as well so great to hear thank you so much for your time and it’s quite hit things posted happening down there in the in Southland thanks I’m gonna try and get around if you will the CEOs who acted as who on you to the role this year said just to hear what some what we’ve learned in the Roland how come it is it is it has some has impact that so please do it like the Facebook page and YouTube channel subscribe to the podcast hearing news in sports right yeah thank you Steve your time and I’m so sorry for wasting your time by not recording the first timer no problem no problem thank you for the opportunity to talk about about you just finish inside and out you know the community down here is amazing that might be so really welcome the impression about the stakes and I think given the support and the police you know you watch the spice might the stags are coming back right