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Street wise to development as England harness London coaching talent

20 June 2013

  • Coach Education session attracts 50-plus to Northwood club 
  • Street and Smith working with London & South East region
Gary Street (right) at London & South East Coach Education session, Old Merchant Taylors' June 16, 2013

Photo: RFU Archive

The women’s and girls’ game in London & the South East took another leap forward last Sunday (June 16) when more than 50 coaches from around the region took part in a Coach Education session with England Women’s head coach Gary Street and assistant Graham Smith.

Using the stylish facilities at Old Merchant Taylors’ RFC in Northwood, the day was split into three sections of instruction involving 17 players from the junior Divisional programme and concluded with a Q&A in which Gary and Graham talked about the exciting times and challenges that will face them this summer, with England playing in New Zealand next month and the Nations Cup in the USA in July and August, as well as the World Cup to follow in 2014.

Among the positive feedback from the day, Gareth Hatherley-Hurford of Hackney RFC said: “I really enjoyed it and found it incredibly useful. I will certainly be using what I have observed.”

The first session with Graham Smith focussed on the players – some of whom will be involved in this year’s Under-20 Nations Cup in Nottingham - understanding how to keep correct body shape under pressure.

After some work using their bodies the players were put in harnesses and moved on into contact scenarios where new games and drills were shown to the coaches – who in turn were tasked with observing the players’ performance as their feedback would drive the final session of the day.

The session after lunch saw Gary Street look at attacking shape and understanding how to create opportunity. As well as playing ‘heads-up’ rugby there was a focus on how an attacking structure encourages creative freedom.

Gary highlighted the importance of attacking players reloading quickly and getting the upper hand on defences. A variety of structured games created environments in which the girls had to think and breakdown the defences that faced them.

To finish the outside practical session, Gary and Graham combined the previous sessions to examine how players at the breakdown could create useable ball and whether the players in the wider channels execute effectively against the defence.

After some battles at the breakdown and some fault correction from the coaches in attendance, the girls started to execute well and play some superb attacking rugby.

In the final section Graham challenged the coaches to develop a curriculum of how they would look to develop this group of players based on what they had seen. In small groups the coaches shared their thoughts and feedback.

All the sessions were filmed by video analyst Aaron Crossman using simple equipment and no specialised software to illustrate to the coaches that they do not need to spend a fortune. Graham used the footage to highlight the areas he would focus on and challenge the coaches to be specific when highlighting areas of development.

Russell Amos of Basingstoke RFC described the coaching day as “most enjoyable and very informative” and Phil Sharp from Eastern Counties said “this was certainly one of those opportunities not to be missed, well worth every second of the 350 mile round trip”.

Clubs/rugby organisations with coaches attending:

Aylesford Bulls, Eastern Counties, Ellingham & Ringwood U15, London & SE Divisional, Hackney, Bletchley, Thanet Wanderers U18, Olney Girls, Henley Women, Gosford All Blacks, Hertfordshire U15, Saracens, Hammersmith & Fulham, Thurrock, Beckenham U15/U13, Diss, South Sussex, New Ash Green, Chelmsford Ladies, Wimbledon Ladies, Kent U15, OAs Saints, Medway U13, East Midlands Ladies, Welwyn U18/U15, Hove, Hampshire, Basingstoke Girls.