From Gloucester to Lusaka
Lusaka, the Zambian capital, October 2006. A massive coaching realisation is about to happen.
I’m working for a charitable trust, delivering tag rugby to developing countries. Normally, the trust would spend up to nine days with 10 year-olds for an hour a day. At the end of that time, a squad of 12 would be chosen for a festival.
It was a fantastic project, reaching a wide range of children, with a variety of coaches delivering rugby. And the preferred and only method of coaching: drills.
The opportunity had come about through a meeting with Martin Hansford, the founder of the trust. He was a friend of a friend and had come up to Gloucester rugby to watch a primary school tag event I was running at their Premiership club ground.
Martin is an amazingly positive and proactive guy. He was going to Uganda that summer with some volunteers and wanted to run a programme to unite the community and had thought of football.
However, after watching the tag festival he was smitten with what he saw. He knew that tag rugby would do a better job. He asked if I could provide some balls and tags and off he went with a bag full of kit.
That trip was so successful that he was able to set up the Tag Rugby Trust, introducing children in developing countries to rugby.
I was invited to attend the following year and it was there that I was involved in a well-meaning, but nevertheless drill-based programme.
But I was going to take a different approach.