The 2010 Ospreys Coaching Conference took place at Llandarcy at the weekend, with the region's senior coaching and management team all helping the Coach Development team to deliver the day-long programme.
Director of Coaching Scott Johnson, Head Coach Sean Holley and Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys all stepped straight off the team bus from Saturday’s pre-season game in Leeds to deliver their modules, along with Elite Performance Director Andrew Hore, while for the first time ever, this year’s Coaching Conference was extended to include referees, with WRU officials James Jones and Huw Watkins also presenting.
The day kicked off with a presentation by Andrew Hore, on the subject of Talent Identification, with delegates being made aware of research into such areas such as Relative Age Effect and the influences that factors like the areas of upbringing can impact on the development of youngsters.
This was followed by a presentation by James Jones and Huw Watkins on the latest directives to referees and how these should influence the approach of coaches. Practical scenarios were then demonstrated, generating a significant amount of debate, clearly illustrating the need for better understanding by coaches of how referees would approach situations. The referees were also able to gain an insight into how coaches reacted to the directives.
Phil Davies, who has recently left the WRU to take up a new post as forwards coach at Worcester, then provided a practical demonstration of some aspects of the contact area, together with some handling skills, supported by Ospreys Skills Coach Gruff Rees.
After a short lunch break, Jonathan Humphreys got the afternoon session underway with demonstrations of some of the activities utilised to improve the skills of individuals in the lineout. Jumping and lifting techniques were highlighted, together with a series of exercises designed to maximise the efficiency of each of these elements, with delegates surprised at just how much emphasis was placed on the individual, leading to a number expressing an intent to review their own approach to set piece coaching.
In a complete change of approach, Sean Holley then conducted an interactive seminar in which the delegates raised issues that they felt were important to their coaching and Sean provided a series of illustrations as to how the Ospreys dealt with the topics. This session was conducted with a mixture of serious responses and good humour, with Scott Johnson then joining the session to add his own inimitable views for the enjoyment and benefit of all present.
The event was considered a great success by all who attended, and Tony Thomas, Ospreys Coach Development Officer with responsibility for the event, said:
“We are determined to improve the relationship between referees and coaches and this conference has been one way of working towards that goal. It is also my firm belief that the more coaches really understand the laws of the game and how they are applied, the better coaches they will become. We are greatly indebted to all those who contributed to this even and are indeed fortunate at the Ospreys that we receive such positive support from the senior coaching staff for these events. We are also grateful to the lads from Swansea District Under 16 who were used for demonstrations by all the presenters. The Annual Conference continues to go from strength to strength and we must now target raising the bar even higher next year.”
Andrew Hore added:
“Better coaches equals better players and because of that we are committed to working with coaches at every level in the region to improve the quality of coaching being delivered at schools and clubs in Ospreylia, which will directly lead to improved players.
“The annual Coaching Conference for Level Three coaches is one end of the scale, with all delegates feeding back how beneficial they have found the experience, but we are equally committed to working at the other end to get more and more people taking their first steps on the coaching ladder.
“This commitment is reinforced by the likes of our senior coaching team who are delighted to play their part in these events, helping to create a development pathway that will deliver long term sustainability for the Ospreys which is our ultimate aim.”
James Jones commented:
“On behalf of the West Society of referees I would like to express we found the recent referee / coaches conference at Ospreylia an extremely beneficial day. It gave great insight into the new iRB directives especially in relation to the tackle / contact area. One of the huge advantages for us as referees was witnessing the new directives set up on a practical level and a visual interaction with the coaches when asking questions and setting up certain scenarios.
“It was also fascinating to have an insight from the likes of Sean Holley in particular on how coaching methods and practices on the breakdown have changed in light of the directives.
“Overall a good day for all and hopefully the start of a good season for us as referees and the first of many interactive workshops with coaches throughout the season.”