Safely ensconced back at the region’s training base in Llandarcy following a summer trip to Australia and New Zealand, Steve Tandy says the experience will have long-term benefits for the Ospreys.
Tandy spent almost three weeks in the Southern Hemisphere, along with Gruff Rees and Tom Smith, visiting different sporting organisations for a special insight into how some of the leading clubs in those countries operate.
Having had time to reflect on the experience, he says that the little things he picked up while on the road could prove to be the most important:
“For me personally, it was a great opportunity to go out and speak to different people, who I wouldn’t normally get that time with, and to go into different environments to see how they do things.
“I think that the opportunity to talk to people, pick their brains, and find out how they deal with different experiences and scenarios, was huge.
“Whether they are Union, League or AFL, it was good to look at how they do things. There’s no right or wrong way, we were looking at people like Melbourne Storm, or Geelong Cats, for example, who would both have their own practices, which won’t necessarily transfer back to Llandarcy, but it would give us something to think about as a group.
“You have to keep pushing yourself on and, in all honesty, if you come home from a trip like this with one thing that you can change, one thing that will enable you to freshen up the environment, then it is beneficial. We’re not just talking about something big that will immediately make the difference between winning the PRO12 or not, it’s about finding the little things that can make you better as a coach, or that can improve the players, or how you prepare as a team, which will add up to get you where you want to be.”
Ospreys ‘original’ Tandy, who has been with the region since day one, acknowledged that development trips such as this one can help to deliver success to the region, regardless of any budgetary gap there may be between the Ospreys and the leading English, French and Irish teams they compete with.
“People talk about money but that doesn’t have to be the be all and end all of the discussion” Tandy continued.
“We’re still a young organisation when you compare us to the teams we are playing against, but we’ve adapted to change over the 12 years since we were formed and we can be very proud of our successes on and off the field. We’ve got a good environment, but we’ve got to keep pushing on and on, growing our culture.
“Going into different environments like we did last month can allow us to identify how to fill some of the gaps in what we do and I think, sometimes, that can be as important as spending money, more so a lot of the time.
“It was pleasing to see that we are heading in the right direction in terms of how we do things, there wasn’t a realisation of ‘we are doing this all wrong’ at any time. We are doing a lot of things right at the Ospreys but we are well aware that we’ve got to keep striving to be better.
“We’ve got really good people in our business and that’s important. When I look around at our staff I know that the people around us are all very good at what they do, but aren’t settling for that, they are striving to take Ospreys Rugby in the right direction, to make us better.”
One of the biggest benefits for Tandy was just being away from the day-to-day environment with Gruff and Tom, immersing themselves into the experience 24/7 as he explained:
“We are a young coaching team and we certainly wouldn’t say that we have all the answers. I don’t think anyone in this business can ever say that. You have to be open-minded and take every chance you are given to actively improve your knowledge.
“It’s important to step away from the environment sometimes, and with the three of us travelling as a group it allowed us to talk, to debate things, and to challenge each other on what we were seeing and what we thought, and what would work in our environment.
“You don’t want to bring everything back into our environment, if we were in that position then I’d be pretty concerned to be honest. It would mean we were getting things wide of the mark.
“It’s about identifying what will really enhance the team, improve the environment, and allow us to take things up to the next level, which we have to if we are going to continue challenging this season.
“These aren’t the kinds of opportunities you get every day so we are all extremely grateful that we had this chance and thankful to every club, and the people in them, who made us so welcome.”