Hargood's credentials first class

By Gary Caffell

TONY Hargood has a difficult job on his hands.

The newly-appointed chief executive officer of the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union takes over an organisation which, like many others of its ilk, is struggling to meet the financial demands of our national game.

For starters, Hargood will have to implement plans which enable the WBRFU to pay off the short-term loan graciously given by the NZRFU after it found itself in deep water with creditors owed in total a figure running well into six figures.

And if that's not bad enough he will also have taken cognisance of comments made by WBRFU chairman Graeme Reisima that budgets will have to be severely trimmed so that financial stability can be achieved.

Any trimming exercise is, of course, bound to be greeted with howls of displeasure from those most affected and, inevitably, it is the CEO who has to take most of the backlash when that happens.

The fact he had already earned himself a good reputation in local rugby circles before he left Masterton some years ago to live in Auckland should, however, be to Hargood's benefit.

He did the hard yards on the coaching front with the Marist club's premier side and the Wairarapa-Bush senior B and colts teams, with nothing impressing more than his willingness to think outside the square when looking to enhance the skills of his players, individually and collectively.

Breaking into the Auckland club scene as a coach is never easy but it didn't take long for Tony Hargood to make his mark there either.

He joined up with the Mount Wellington club and took their top team to premier division status and also had a successful stint coaching the Auckland emerging players side, made up of that province's most promising under-23 players. In recent times, he has been full-time director of rugby for the College Rifles Club, which has a player membership of more than 1000.

Hargood was a driving force behind College Rifles installing two groundbreaking synthetic rugby fields, the first of their kind in New Zealand. About $2 million was raised over a period of just 18 months - including $750,000 from the Auckland City Council - and the durability of the surface is such that many other sports such as soccer, netball, lacrosse and touch rugby can be played on them, thereby generating extra revenue for College Rifles.

Hargood was also a prime mover in the development of a coaching tool aimed at making the gathering of valuable statistical data a much less onerous task.

He invented the iCoach which can be used on iPhone and iPad to provide on-the-spot analysis on what is happening on the field of play.

"The whole idea is to make life easier for those at the grass roots of the game, those who don't have the technology or the time to spend long hours poring over the data which is so necessary to provide a fair summary of both individual and team performances," Hargood told the Times-Age in an interview last May. "Now they can have it at their fingertips."

Hargood said he literally used to spend days sifting through the wealth of stats from games and it was from there that the iCoach was born.

"I used to sit there and think there had to be an easier way ... this is it."

It is unlikely the complexities and pressures of the CEO position will allow Hargood to spend much - if any - time furthering his coaching career when the former Cornwall Street Primary School and Chanel College pupil returns home but as a "sounding board" for those involved in that sphere of the game here he will undoubtedly offer valuable guidance and support.

Hargood is expected to take up the CEO post early next month.


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