Coaches in the UK tend to be a lot more technical
On the first day of 2013, SACS 1st XV coaches Graeme Wepener and Nick Maurer set off to the United Kingdom for a wonderful coaching experience. They report on their experience.
Upon arrival they were welcomed with open arms by everyone at Bath Rugby and given accommodation at their magnificent training facility at Farleigh House.
The old country estate of Farleigh House has been transformed into a world class rugby facility with a state of the art gym, rehab centre, meeting rooms, kitchen and canteen, offices, IT centre and outbuildings to accommodate families and other visitors. The farmlands have been converted into two amazing rugby fields for training and a 3G artificial, all-weather playing surface has also been built to allow the players the best possible chance to train effectively no matter how dire the weather conditions.
We spent the first day and night in the company of the Bath Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, and thereafter were based at the Bath Academy with legendary Bath, England and British Lions lock Danny Grewcock and Dave Williams, who was with us at SACS for the 2012 season and proved invaluable both as a coach and as an advisor).
We attended all the 1st XV team meetings and practices as well as spending time with some of the other senior coaches at Bath namely, Neal Hatley (scrums and breakdown), Mike Ford (defence) and Toby Booth (attack and line-outs). It was beneficial to be able to see how high performance teams prepare for games and how they implemented their strategies on game day when we watched Bath vs London Wasps live at Wicombe Wanderers just outside London. Bath unfortunately lost the game but we were able to attend the post-match review by the team and see how they analyse team and individual performances and plot the way forward for the upcoming fixture.
Highlights of trip included working on individual skills with Dave Williams and legendary Bath scrumhalf Michael Claasens, a one on one kicking session with Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald, participating in a non 23 training session with well known international and Premierships stars like Sam Vesty, Dan Hipkiss, Rob Webber and Cape Town’s very own Nick Koster. Graeme Wepener spent a great deal of time with Danny Grewcock planning lineout strategies and getting invaluable insights into the driving maul.
Bath has a strong South African connection and it was great to get to know players like Flo (Francois Louw), Nick Koster and Clasie (Michael Claassens) who were always willing to include us in everything they did, both rugby and socially!
Overall it was a wonderful learning experience. The coaches in the United Kingdom tend to be a lot more technical and break the various aspects of rugby up into their component parts during training sessions. This is something we as South African coaches can really learn from and what we will be looking to pass on to the other coaches at SACS over the coming months.
We would like to thank SACS and the Percy Montgomery Foundation for allowing us to undertake this truly memorable trip.