Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes were regularly described as a circus act before their historic triumph this year.

Brilliant one week, awful the next - the Wellington-based franchise was arguably one of the most frustrating sporting teams in New Zealand to support ... with some long-suffering fans likening players to clowns.

Those references are thankfully now long gone.

But as the champs prepare to defend their crown, coach Chris Boyd has revealed his own pre-season has included taking inspiration from the world's most famous circus; Cirque du Soleil.


Boyd recently spent extensive time overseas, studying military camps, NBA teams, and the famous circus company.

He thinks there is real value in broadening your skills beyond the game you coach.

"The game of rugby hasn't changed, but the way we view our environments and the way we teach and coach has changed significantly," he told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.

So he learned from acrobats and performers in a bid to turn his own franchise into something special.

"There was a really nice philosophy around the way they develop their skills," he said.

"They broke their learning into two distinct parts.

"If you're talking about an acrobat, to perfect his leap is really important.

"They would repeat it over and over again until they can complete it absolutely perfectly biomechanically. That's the routine part."


"Then, the bit that he does that we all sit there and marvel about - his twists and flips and all that - they don't coach that at all. That's all self-exploration and discovery.

"Once they've done those core basics, they just muck around and play."

There's no doubt the idea of back flips and somersaults wouldn't be lost on a player as athletic as Dane Coles, but Boyd thinks the philosophy can be extremely useful in rugby coaching.

"We can adopt that philosophy very easily into rugby," he said.

"Around making sure the core basics are absolutely on song - your catch pass, your cleanout, your tackle.

"Then we can create environments so that guys can play to develop skills around their offload, their short balls, and their little kicks."

After winning their first Super Rugby title this year, a Hurricanes side with the panache of a circus troupe may just lead them to another.