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FEATURE – QBE Coaching Club comes to Twickenham

11 April 2014

  • QBE Coaching Club takes 10 budding coaches to Twickenham
  • Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree full of praise for the initiative

It is very easy to speak about the legacy of Rugby World Cup 2015, but transforming that abstract concept into something tangible is far tougher.

Capitalising on the anticipated surge of participation in rugby over the next few years will take planning, passion and no little hard work. Expertise is also an essential pre-requisite, which is where the QBE Coaching Club comes in.

Mike Catt and Owen Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

In partnership with the RFU, this initiative is aiming to recruit and train 2,015 coaches past their level two qualification by September 2015 – when the global tournament kicks off.

Already more than 1,000 have passed through the free scheme, and 10 of them came to Twickenham this week to run a variety of sessions under the watchful eyes of England senior gurus Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree.

James Tybart of Greyhound RFC in Herefordshire is among those to have benefitted from the programme. He thoroughly enjoyed his day at the home of England Rugby and vowed his commitment would be a long-term one.

“I came from a non-coaching background, so I learned how to plan sessions, how to lead and how bring players through different levels,” he explained. “Without QBE’s funding, I doubt I’d have done my level 2 because of the expense. Hopefully I’ll do it justice.”

Steve Bartram from Peterborough Lions Academy echoed that enthusiasm, stating the opportunity was too good to turn down.

“I did my level one in June 2013 and was always looking to improve,” he said. “The scheme seemed brilliant to me. It was a free course and I learned so much – how to structure my sessions, why I should actually do it, what the benefits are. It’s just built my confidence.

Graham Rowntree

Photo: Getty Images

“The more knowledge you have in the game, the more styles you can learn. You can’t always be telling people – sometimes you are going to be asking questions of them to get answers. That’s what the course has taught me and it’s been brilliant.

“For an England rugby fan, this has been an absolute dream. The England set-up at the moment seems so supportive of young coaches and I just want to keep improving myself really.”

Catt, England’s Attacking Skills Coach, gave another perspective, stressing the importance of a coaching infrastructure to welcome and activate new and returning players.

“It’s massively important,” he explained. “The more coaches we get, the more we are going to be able to promote the game across the country and pass down that nous to a grassroots level. It’s key for the development of the game.”

Rowntree added: “We want to get more people playing the game and more quality people coaching them. I think it’s a great initiative.

“If we can get out and speak to grassroots coaches about how we coach, inevitably those guys are going to get better coaching earlier.

“From a safety point of view it’s important as well. Safer processes around scrum and breakdown are important. If we can speak to them about that, all the better.”

Giving concrete evidence to the ‘England Connected’ mantra, Catt and Rowntree were on hand throughout the afternoon to give advice to each of the budding coaches in attendance. All 10 took full advantage, picking the brains of Stuart Lancaster’s lieutenants regularly.

Mike Catt at Twickenham

Photo: RFU Archive

To finish, Catt hinted that such eagerness would serve them well in the future.

“As a coach, you’ve got to be yourself – you can’t try to be a coach that you’re not,” he said. “Passion and energy are important as well. If you’re passionate, people will thrive off it. The same goes for energy – it helps if you’re buzzing and enjoying it. Those ingredients are key.

“Talking to a lot of the guys on the course at the moment, they are massively passionate about the game. A lot of them have had some fantastic years playing and now they’re giving back to the youngsters so they can do exactly the same.

“It’s fantastic, and QBE have put those things in place for this to happen.”