Old Glory has finally revealed their new head coach: Josh Syms from New Zealand's National Provincial Championship. He will be replacing Nate Osborne, the former head coach of NOLA Gold who was serving as an interim after the mid-season exit of OGDC's long-serving head coach Andrew Douglas.

A school teacher by trade, Syms naturally started his coaching career in youth rugby. His first breakthrough success was with St Kentigern College, a high school team who he took from 10th place to 2009 to a provincial title in 2011, a national title in 2012, and a world championship in 2013. He moved on to coach for various other school and club sides before deciding to take a shot at coaching at the professional level. In 2018, he was hired as the forwards coach for Hawke's Bay, who went from the middle of the NPC's second tier all the way to the top of the first tier in 2021. Syms was promoted to head coach for the 2022 season.

This appointment has come much later than expected, with an announcement originally anticipated before the draft in August. However, that doesn't mean that the team has been without a coach for this whole time. According to reports, Syms has been involved with the team for some time now, participating in signings and other decision making.

Syms inherits a team that has struggled on the field in the last two seasons. After a promising 4-1 debut season was cut off by the pandemic, Old Glory regressed to a 6-9-1 record in 2021. In 2022, Old Glory started the season with a 9-match losing streak before eventually finishing 3-13 on the season. Despite those disappointing records, though, we're going to see a very familiar lineup next year. While most of the roster has yet to be announced, we already know that most of last season's starters are returning. Syms has opted for continuity over a clean slate.

As a coach, Syms has emphasized the importance of relationships, the trust between players and coaches built over time. Fortunately, he already has a preexisting relationships to build off, as he coached OGDC captain Danny Tusitala at Hawke's Bay in 2021. This focus on relationships and trust may also be why he's chosen to keep so much of the core of the team together. Syms has talked before about how there's no replacement for time, and we saw at the beginning of last season how a lack of time together left the team disjointed.

With preseason practice starting in early January, we are only a couple months away from the team being reassembled with Syms at the helm. Hopefully, he'll be able to steer the team out of the stormy waters they've been in for the last couple of seasons. He certainly seems like a great candidate to do so.


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