My favourite thing about the Touch scene in Aotearoa is how much love the community has for each other. Don’t get me wrong, there is also a huge competitive nature about our game up and down the Country, but paramount is the love and respect that underpins the game and the community that serve it.
Rahul Das is a perfect example of this.
In preparation for this article, I reached out to a few good mates of mine who have played for Rahul. I asked them to share with me their whakaaro on Rahul as a coach. The response I received was beautiful.
I asked Touch Black Open Mens player Carlos Savage what he liked most about Das, to which he responded “he is not only a coach that wants to better you on the field but he wants to create good role models and leaders out in the community”
Carlos went on to add, “He also thinks outside the box a lot with resources outside of touch he can bring in to benefit the team in one way or another”
I asked the same question to my good friend, another Touch Black Shaq Stone who played for Rahul alongside his older brother Mossy.
Shaq said his most memorable moment with Das came in the form of a facebook message. Rahul sent through this quote, and left Stone stunned.
"A Player that doesn't make excuses and instead takes ownership of their actions is so fun to coach.
They buy into the team first concept and help implement and lead it. They don't get tempted to join in with the haters. They stand up for the team.
They're a champion no matter what the scoreboard says. And they're usually the ones I recruit to be my assistant down the road."
Rahul followed by adding,
“This is your mindset bro. I’ve seen you listen, grow, challenge yourself, have hunger and hard work and done it with humility. You’re a leader my friend. And I’m Proud to coach you and also more importantly to call you a friend”
That moment, says Shaq, cemented Das as “the greatest coach I’ve ever had”
“The professionalism he brings to an amateur sport is second to none & the work he has done to raise the bar in our men’s team is unreal bro. So, I have nothing but the best of words to say for him bro, he helped me also to get to where I am now”
I asked Touch Black Tarkyn Loloselo to share some thoughts on Rahul - the Solomon Island native couldn’t speak highly enough of his Coach,
“Before the second test in Rotorua stands out for me. He picked ratty over me because he was more experienced. He told me that I’m still young and he had bigger plans for me,
I then went on to captain the u20s at the youth World Cup & was also our flag bearer for that campaign. The following year I went to the opens World Cup with the Touch Blacks. This allowed me to land a rugby league contract in Australia.
So in a nutshell that is my favourite moment that we’ve had. Because that decision benefited me in the long run. He’s a man I highly respect”
National Referee Harley Wall summarises it best, and it’s a fitting way to finish this off.
“He’s a legend of our sport, we’re very lucky to have him”
After reading this, I think we’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees.
Rahul has the miDAS touch.
My Interview with Rahul will be uploaded shortly. You can read the full Announcement from TNZ regarding the Touch Black Coaches here