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FEATURE – 2,015 new level two coaches by 2015

17 December 2012

  • Conor O’Shea, Graham Rowntree and La Toya Mason on QBE Coaching Club
  • RFU sponsor to fund 2,015 new level two coaches by 2015

More level two coaches working in rugby will be a huge boost to the base of the game’s pyramid in England, according to Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea.

The Quins supremo was talking after RFU sponsor QBE launched the QBE Coaching Club with a pledge to recruit and train 2,015 new level two coaches by the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

And despite his leadership of the current Premiership champions, O’Shea takes a keen interest in what goes on at grassroots level, knowing good quality coaching is the key to retention of players in the game he loves.

The 35-time capped Ireland full back said: “The more better qualified coaches we have, the bigger the base of the pyramid is and the better the chance is that young players and players in general will stay in the game, because they’re inspired by people who can technically back it up with the way they deliver their coaching.

“2,015 new level two coaches by 2015, that’s a big ask, but it’s a worthwhile task. It will equip people that little bit better in terms of what is going on in the game and what we want to be imparted onto young players at an earlier age.”

(L-R) Steve Grainger, La Toya Mason, Graham Rowntree, Martin Bayfield, Conor O'Shea and Gary Street at the launch of the QBE Coaching Club at Twickenham Stadium

Photo: Getty Images

England Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree concurs with O’Shea, believing it is important that as many people as possible have the opportunity to go as far in the game as they can, and that will only happen with good quality coaching at an early age.

Given his affection for the unforgiving world of the scrum, Rowntree’s emphasis is on ensuring the safety of people learning the game:  “The QBE Coaching Club can help the drive to ensure that people at all levels of the game, particularly the grassroots level, get good coaching and are taught how to do their job as well as they can. Fundamentally, they can be shown that if they want to go higher in the game, this is what you need to do better.

“But wider than that, I’d like to think that for every level – mini, junior, senior – people are getting good, safe coaching from coaches who know what they are doing and have the passion to deliver it.”

Like O’Shea and Rowntree, and everyone else at the top level of rugby, England Women’s scrum half La Toya Mason is a product of the grassroots game. In her role at the RFU as a Community Rugby Coach, the 28-year-old is at the sharp end of coaching in the community and says the sport must have the capacity to capitalise on the interest created by the upcoming world cup.

England Women's scrum half and RFU Community Rugby Coach La Toya Mason at the launch of the QBE Coaching Club

Photo: Getty Images

“Grassroots rugby and grassroots coaching is where it all starts, it’s how I got to where I am today as an England scrum half,” said the Wasps No.9. “Kids will want to be involved because there’s a Rugby World Cup around the corner and we’ve got to make sure the young players out there are taught by good coaches and want to stay in the game.

“The hopefully those kids will be part of future world cups down the track.”

Rowntree’s focus in the build up to 2015 is England winning on the pitch but within that the England coaches have a genuine and tangible commitment to the quality of coaching at all levels of rugby.

Aware of the correlation between good coaching at an early age and the continued success of the England team, he added: “We want rugby, at 2015, to be perfect out there on the field. But we want the state of the game, the state of the union at all levels, to be in a good place as well and we’re only going to get that with good coaching. 

“It will certainly benefit my end of the game, the elite end, dare I say it, with more players getting better coaching at an early age.”