New Zealand has a few families from which many sporting greats have emerged – think the Crowes with cricket, the Barretts and the Whitelocks with rugby, and the Kendalls with sailing. Now it’s coaching’s turn.
Brother and sister duo Glenn Delaney (44) and Marianne Delaney-Hoshek (42) are proud born-and-bred Cantabrians who this year coached the Mitre 10 Cup rugby champions Canterbury and the Silvermoon Tactix netball team. In fact, they were appointed to their respective positions at almost the same time!
To have two siblings at the top of their coaching careers in the same province is a point of immense pride for the entire Delaney family, but for the siblings, they’re just stoked to be living in the same country.
“Glenn left New Zealand when he was 19 to play rugby in Japan and he’s been out of the country ever since,” says Marianne, who took on the head coaching role at the Silvermoon Tactix midway through the last season after six years as assistant coach.
“To have him and his family back is amazing and, of course, Mum and Dad are really, really proud! We were on different sides of the world for so long, so I don’t think they ever thought this would happen!”
“It was a bit of a bizarre thing how it all happened,” adds Glenn, who is off to the Highlanders next year following his incredible success with Canterbury in 2017.
“Coincidence managed to pull everything together, I guess. It’s great to have my little sister as a sounding board. We’ll talk about stuff – the good and the bad.”
Unsurprisingly, sport has been at the centre of Glenn and Marianne’s entire lives. The pair initially trained as physical education teachers before their coaching careers took off.
“We were very competitive, Glenn and I especially,” recalls Marianne with a chuckle.
“We’d play everything, the family games of cricket, tennis matches… There was definitely a rivalry. Glenn’s really tall, but for our whole lives, we’ve had this banter about who’s the fastest runner. We’ve never actually tested it, but it’s totally me!” says Marianne.
“That’s interesting,” Glenn responds with a sceptical laugh.
“She’s very competitive and so am I. At the end of the day, if she wants to claim she won everything, I’ll let her do that. Even if it’s probably not true!”
With sport-obsessed parents, the Delaney kids were never without a bat or ball in hand growing up. Marianne recalls how Glenn practised his cricket deliveries with her on the family’s driveway.
“He’d dress me up in all of his cricket pads – of course, this was when he’d just grown to 1.98m – and he’d do his fast bowls at me. I didn’t have much say in the matter!”
“Look, growing up with two sisters has challenges in itself,” laughs Glenn. “Not least when you’re trying to play competitive sport! But to be fair to her, she was always brave enough and I’d bowl full pelt.”
The siblings are full of praise for the other and also for their older sister Megan, a sports administrator, who Glenn describes as “the heartbeat of the family”.
Of course, with so much professional sport to support, netball and rugby season is a very busy time for the Delaney family. Both Glenn and Marianne try to attend the other’s fixtures whenever they are able to.
“I don’t profess to be an expert on netball, but I do enjoy watching it,” tells Glenn.
“Marianne is doing amazing things with the Silvermoon Tactix – they had a massive win the last game of their season, and it was great to be there and see it all come together. She’s an awesome person with a massive heart.”
Marianne, on the other hand, actually played a season of club rugby – “I just thought I’d give it a go!” she laughs – and loves heading to games.
And with Marianne taking on her first head-coaching role this year with the Canterbury team, as well as coaching the New Zealand A team, she’s always very appreciative of any professional advice Glenn can give her.
“It’s definitely a step up,” she says. “But I felt really ready. I’ll have a chat to Glenn about things and he’ll chat with me, and it’s great. We’re very lucky!”