Ospreys centurion Steve Tandy says he's enjoying the opportunity to temporarily step up to the role of Forwards Coach during the first stage of the LV= Cup campaign.
Tandy, an Ospreys stalwart in the backrow since the very first season of regional rugby, clocked up his 100thcap earlier this year, and he has been taking his first steps up the coaching ladder after being appointed Head Coach of Bridgend ahead of the current Swalec League One West campaign, a role he now combines with the full time position of Player Development Officer for the Bridgend District.
Now, as part of the Ospreys innovative coach development programme, he has been invited to join a new-look coaching set-up at the region for the LV= Cup games against Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers. With Jonathan Humphreys temporarily taking the post of Head Coach and Gruff Rees as Back Coach, Tandy has been given the opportunity to experience day-to-day life at the sharp end, something he is thoroughly enjoying.
“I’m loving the experience, I’ve got to be honest” he said.
“I’m having to put a few hours in given that I’ve got the Bridgend job to look after as well, but time flies as I’m finding the experience so enjoyable. I’m picking up so much from the other coaches in what has been a short period of time and that’s the best way to do it, learning on the job.
“The opportunity came out of the blue a little bit, I was focussing on the Bridgend jobs but I was asked to be a part of this and it’s the kind of opportunity that you can’t turn down. It would have been Filo, but with him becoming a father again and spending time with his family the door was opened for me and it’s a brilliant opportunity to be honest. I was really surprised but it’s a massive learning curve that can only improve me as a coach.”
Tandy’s time as Bridgend Head Coach has got off to a flying start, with the Ravens currently sitting at the top of the table, unbeaten in their ten games to date as they target a return to the Premiership, but he insists that he has a lot to learn as a coach:
“The support I’ve had this season has been brilliant, down at Bridgend and at the Ospreys, it’s really been fantastic. I’m still learning as a coach, but I know that I’m in a good environment to get the best out of myself. I love coaching and I got the experience with the U16’s last year, but I didn’t imagine that everything would go so well this year.
“I’m really enjoying Bridgend RFC, it’s a great club and set-up, and the support team I’ve got there have really made it easy for me. To be doing this with the Ospreys now is just the icing on the cake really. It’ll make me a better coach, but it’s important that I don’t lose sight of my day job!
“It’s going really well, people there are buying into what we are trying to do and you can’t ask for anymore than that.”
Given his combined roles in Bridgend, with him also now taking responsibility for player development across the district within the Ospreys Community Development team, Tandy is in an extremely influential position within Bridgend’s rugby community, and he insists that the challenge of creating the next generation of Ravens and Ospreys is driving him forward:
“That’s definitely the case, I’m spending a lot of time down there at the moment, more than I do at home. It’s great to be able to take a wider view of Bridgend, not only are we doing reasonably well with the senior side at the moment but the junior set-up is strong there, with good District teams and club sides going well. Hopefully, I can help to develop more kids, encourage more to take up the game and maybe bring through a few into the top end of the system, with Bridgend and even the bigger step into the Ospreys.
“Obviously it’s a good feeling to be able to make a difference to Bridgend rugby, but what’s most important is to make a difference to the kids. It’s just great to see kids on the field, wanting to learn the game, and in my development role, if I can work with coaches in Bridgend to improve them, it‘ll give me great satisfaction.”
With the Ospreys set to entertain Leicester at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field, the home of Bridgend RFC, on Friday night, Tandy says he’s in no doubt that it is set to be a great occasion for the town:
“It’s going to be huge, for the rugby club and for the town. It’s a great venue, and I think the Ospreys going down there will be great for the area and for the kids. The community there does back the Ospreys and I’m sure they’ll show that on Friday night by coming out to support the team.”