Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

A tale of two coaches (part three) by David Clarke
December 23, 2010, 5:27 pm
Filed under: A tale of two coaches, Dan Cottrell | Tags: , , ,

The story so far:

Phil had played a good standard of rugby up until college days, but had left rugby behind to concentrate on playing squash and his studies. Doug played through college and eventually played a couple of years in senior rugby before, like Phil, he decided to put his energies elsewhere.

Both enjoyed going to watch rugby, though neither found they had the time to go more than a couple of times a year, and an international match was a luxury. But come a major international or the Lions games, then they would both be at the bar with their friends, cheering on their country.

Phil and Doug settled down to family life and when their sons were old enough, they took them down to their local clubs. Tag rugby had its frustrations, but the boys were good at rugby and became key players in their club side.

At the end of their last Tag season, Phil and Doug found that the Tag head coach of each of their teams was standing down. Both knew how much their sons loved the game and were chomping at the bit to play contact rugby. They were a little flattered that their respective clubs asked them to take on the role of head coach: “You have played the game and your son is one of the best players…you would be ideal.”

Last time, we left Phil about to go on a Rugby Ready course, apprehensive about the new season (and coaching girls), and a few players short of a good-sized squad.

Doug, on the other hand, was recruiting on the last day of the previous season, the day he decided to take on his son’s team…

Doug spends the next day organising two more sponsors to add to the donation from his own tiling business. By the end of the week he has sourced new shirts, new tracksuits with money to spare for a tour at the end of the season.

He is just about to press the button to order the kit when he receives a call from the mini’s club chair (Sandra who has a son in the Under 15s and a daughter who is in the girls under 18 team).

“Hi Doug, its Sandra from the club. I am the mini’s chair”
“(ChairMAN)” whispers Doug to himself, “Hi Sandra”, he says.
“I just wanted to introduce myself because I hear you are the new U9s coach. That’s great news and I look forward to catching up with you soon to go through a few formalities.”
Sandra suggests they meet up at the club in the next few weeks and asks if she can do anything in the meantime.
“All good” says Doug, “I have got kit organised and sponsored for next season and we are hoping to go on tour at the end of the season.”
There is a short silence. In fact, Sandra is steeling herself to prick Doug’s enthusiastic bubble. “I don’t want to be a moaning administrator straight away” she says, “but any sponsorship needs to go through the club committee and all the kit is bought centrally.”
“But I have already raised enough money to buy the latest designs – it’s what the kids want”, says Doug.
“I am sorry, but we have a couple of club sponsors who have supported the club for the last few years and we have a stock of shirts to sell. It helps put money back into the mini-section”
“But those old style shirts are rubbish. They are itchy, too big and, frankly, out of fashion. My sponsors will be saving the club money.”
After some further discussion, Sandra and Doug finish the call in a slightly fractured stand off, with Doug tentatively agreeing not to go ahead until they meet with Sandra and the club chairman.

Doug spends the next hour fuming. He talks to his wife, who, though understanding, switches off from the conversation quite early on: “What’s the point of trying to do anything positive – that stupid Sandra woman doesn’t know that boys love kit. She is just jealous I have managed to get all these sponsors. I am going to fight for this, for Harry (his son’s) and his team’s sake”.

The meeting with Sandra and Ross Jones, the club chairman (at least he is a chairMAN thinks Doug), is more frustrating than the telephone call. Whilst Sandra wants to encourage Doug in his coaching, she knows that the club survives on all the sides interacting on financial matters. Ross is more straightforward and leaves Doug in no doubt about the sponsorship deal. “Sorry Doug, we cannot do it. If you want to buy balls and other equipment, then great, go for it. You can buy tracksuits as well, but they cannot have anything but the club logo on it.”

Doug decides to channel his energies into recruitment and preparing the side for the new season. He has already signed up a couple of new players and has asked Harry if any of his mates from school are any good. He remembers one of Harry’s schoolmates plays for a rival club and was the standout player in their last match together.

His wife is a friend of Harry’s schoolmate’s mum, so he manages to get the boy’s father’s number. He is just about to call when he remembers his conversation about the shirts from Sandra. “I bet there is some rule against poaching” he says to his wife. “And I bet that Sandra will have something to say about this.”

Next time we will find out whether Doug speaks to Sandra or does his own thing, or indeed both. And we also catch up with Phil who has completed his Rugby Ready course.

Better Rugby Coaching


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sadly there are no rules on poaching……..

Comment by ian

Doug needs to be reined in and left in no doubt as to club policies and procedures. Once briefed, let him work away within those parameters.

Comment by Richard Murphy

Sadly there are no rules on poaching…….(oddly the previous post vanished)

Comment by ian

The club should do a better job of communicating with their coaches. Surely the club has input into who becomes the coach and should have a package of the club structure and responsibilites – especially important for a new coach who is representing the club to all the other families of kids on “his” particular side.

Comment by Steve P.

The chairs should have informed Doug about protocol when he agreed to help the juniors.
they could end up losing a very enthusiastic coach. I think also that if they wanted to get off theire b**s they could incorperate what Doug has done into the club policy.


Interseting article and great that you are highlighting soft issues like these.

I got involved with a new club when I moved up to Scotland 2 years ago and there was pretty much exactly this situation. Every age group, let alone every section of the club, had ‘ploughed their own furrow’ getting money kit and sponsorship from different parties, and worse, different suppliers.

Over the past two years, we have benefitted greatly from centralising this, in a number of ways:

– all kit bought from one supplier. This leverages price discounts but also serivce, like quick turnaround for a new/replacement shirt
– consistency of kit bought being appropriate, e.g. learning whether that suppliers sizes come out larger or smaller than they quote (it always happens and leads to wastage)
– consistency of club branding for sponsors – we have now got an agreed sponsorship set of packages, with sponsors paying more money to get prominent placings on shirts, kit, ground adverts etc.
– and finally, the whole thing has lead to a more coherent and professional look for the club as a whole. That in turn creates an atmosphere that the club is ‘on the up’ and in turn attracts more new sponsors, and more money from existing sponsors.

Sorry Doug, but you should defintiely listen to the Chair(WOMAN)!!

Comment by Mike Power

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