The Ospreys go into LV= Cup action this weekend with a new figure at the helm, Bridgend Head Coach Steve Tandy taking over the reins for the forthcoming games against Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints.
Tandy, who led the Ravens back into the Principality Premiership at the first attempt last season, takes up the temporary post of Head Coach at the region for the two games and will be assisted by Scott Johnson and Sean Holley for one match each as part of the region’s forward thinking coach development programme.
It marks a step-up for Tandy, currently combining his role at Bridgend with the post of Technical Coach at the Ospreys, and he follows in the footsteps of his regional colleague Jonathan Humphreys, who took charge of the team during the second stage of last season’s LV= Cup campaign, leading the Ospreys to victory over Cardiff Blues and London Wasps.
Tandy, who made his 102nd and final appearance as an Ospreys player in March last year, is looking forward to leading his region in the forthcoming games:
“It’s a really exciting challenge for me” he said.
“We’ve got a good group of young players to work with in this period, and it’s a great opportunity for me to go down to Exeter this week heading up the Ospreys coaching team.
“I’m really enjoying myself as a coach, learning the job, and things have moved on for me personally really quickly. Taking charge at Bridgend, and what we achieved as a group last season, as well as being Assistant Coach in the LV= Cup last year were great experiences for me. I’ve enjoyed every minute so far.
“I’m learning from three great coaches every day, Johnno, Sean and Humph, so hopefully, I can only get better as a coach from the experience.”
The coach development programme at the Ospreys is aimed at helping to create a sustainable region on and off the pitch, by affording coaches on the pathway the opportunity to expand their knowledge through ‘on the job’ training at the cutting edge of professional rugby.
With the LV= Cup viewed as an ideal opportunity for up and coming players to gain valuable experience to help their development, the Ospreys have the same outlook towards coach development, with Chief Operations Officer Andrew Hore re-emphasising the region’s commitment to development from within:
“We have made no secret of the fact that developing home grown talent, be it players, coaches or administrators, is crucial to the long term, sustainable success of the Ospreys.
“We have made that commitment with initiatives like this one, which gives coaches towards the top of the development pathway an opportunity to experience the levels of focus and intensity involved with coaching at this level.
“Our mantra is that better coaches equal better players and our actions back up our words. We have a coach development pathway that is well established, and initiatives such as allowing age-grade and district coaching teams to shadow our senior coaching team through the whole match process, preparation, game day and review are really helping to grow coaches at the levels just below senior rugby. In addition, our award winning Coach Development team continues to set the standards when it comes to increasing both the number and the quality of coaches operating within the community game.
“We have to remember that it’s vitally important we don’t just focus on coaches outside of the professional environment, ignoring the development needs of some of our more senior coaches. For us to create long-term sustainable success at the region, we have to work hard to ensure that everybody in the organisation is afforded the opportunity to develop fully, and this is just one step towards that.”
Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, said that he was looking forward to taking the opportunity to work closely with Tandy:
“This is going to be a great experience for Steve which will benefit him personally, Bridgend RFC and the Ospreys, and all the players he works with. He’s shown in his short time as a coach that he has real potential, and while he has been involved with the senior coaching team at the region this season, this period will allow him to get a better taste of what is involved at this level.
“It’s important for our long-term future that we don’t just concentrate on the here and now, we need to be developing the next coaches, and the coaches after them. It’s about leaving a legacy at the Ospreys. Sean and myself will work with Steve, mentoring him, and ensuring he is able to use this experience as a positive step as he continues to carve out a reputation as a good, young Ospreylian coach.”
As for Tandy, he says that this period will provide a great opportunity, not only for himself but also the young players who will be getting some game time, with the unfamiliar opposition giving extra spice:
“I think that makes it even more exciting” he said.
“It’s something a little bit different to focus on and test us. Playing English teams who we don’t come up against regularly makes it interesting and a challenge for all of us, as coaches and players. For myself, it’s an extra test because it’ll be teams and players that are unfamiliar to me as a coach, that I have to analyse and get to know their in’s and out’s.
“The first challenge is to get a really good team performance in Exeter, and then we come back to more familiar territory at the to play the Saints. We really want some strong performances from the boys over the next two weekends. Some of the younger boys are going to have a great opportunity, just like myself, and it’s a chance for people to really impress and show what they are capable of.
“A lot of the young boys who played in last year’s LV= Cup have been involved in the first six games of this season so that show’s how good an opportunity this is for the ones coming in on Saturday. They’ve trained together with these two weeks in mind, now they have to take their opportunity and leaving an impression on all the coaches.”