I remember reading a very famous coach saying that players can’t be your friends because sooner or later you have to deliver bad news to them.
My instinctive thought was that if I ever get bad news, I’d want a friend to deliver it.
Being a friend to me doesn’t mean going for a beer or treating them differently to others.
It means being kind, listening to them and their problems and helping them navigate their careers and lives. Trust is a two way process and I see nothing wrong with saying that you ‘love’ the players you work with. Be consistent in your relationship with them. Don’t be that member of the management that is their best mate when they are playing well and then walks straight past them when they aren’t playing well.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency in rugby for the boss/head coach/director of rugby to think he has to behave so others should fear him or dominate conversation and situations. The Alpha male and then some. That sort of limited thinking will lead to limited success.