It was a great week for PSA Academies and myself with a raft of bookings for the Tignes Rugby Academy and ongoing interest from groups looking to travel to Tignes for pre-season plus other venues in the South of France, Wales, Portugal and more in the Autumn and Winter periods. Coming after the intense Leinster Rugby Schools build up period, plus my role as assistant coach to the Irish Club side that lost narrowly to an English Counties side in Temple Hill last week (see report here), it was a great boost for the exciting months ahead.
But the highlight of the week was a chance to do travel as a delegation from PSA Academies to Hamburg via Bury St Edmunds RFC to deliver training sessions as part of spreading the high performance development philosophy to the youth and senior squads.
The trip started with a visit to the Eastern Counties and a session for myself and Philippe coaching 42 players from the Bury St Edmunds RFC underage section. The focus of the session was ball handling skills, game management around transitioning to attack and support play. The skills, enthusiasm and focus from the group as a whole was really impressive and bodes really well for the club and the region. We’re hoping to see a few of the lads at the PSA Academies Open Day in Finborough School on Saturday 1st April (tickets still available on Eventbrite here) and in Tignes in July.
On Thursday, we travelled to Hamburg in Germany where we were expertly looked after by Volker and the Xplore Germany team (thanks guys!) and hosted by the great people at FC St Pauli Rugby Club. For those not aware, Germany have been making significantly strides in the 2nd tier of International Rugby in recent years (see The42’s excellent recent profile piece here), with the goal of qualifying for the RWC in Japan in 2019 or hopefully Ireland in 2023.
At St Pauli, Philippe and myself (ably assisted by Cory) delivered a two group session clinic, with the first comprising of about 40 boys and girls ranging from under 16 to under 18. The focus for the both sessions was general play and continuity, with passing skills, rucking technique and a game revolving around turnover ball scenarios. With the second adult team group of 30 players, there was additional focus on game management and defensive shape/principles. The concentration, love of the game and extreme level of commitment to development was evident from all, with really strong core skill levels across both groups but in particular in the youth grades. It was great to get to coach the groups and to meet so many passionate rugby people at all levels of the the club. As ever, with a proper rugby occasion, there was a social element to the end of the night and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality provided.
The trip was a great experience, an eye opening one in some respects and I’m confident that it won’t be the last PSA Academies coaching mission to the country or indeed the last time we have German players attend a PSA Academies at home or away.