TOMMY HAYES has been around the block but he never forgets the words of one of his first coaches, Waikato’s Kevin Greene. “He encouraged us to have the confidence to try things and lose that fear of failure,” says the much-travelled Cook Islander. “You think about Saturday’s game all week and then you only get 80 minutes to express yourself, so you must leave it all out on the pitch.”
It’s a philosophy Hayes is imparting to great effect at Pershore, the Midlands Three West (South) club that he coaches with Toby Grace. The focus is on basic skills and sometimes Hayes will just throw a ball in the air and let people play. “We play with a smile on our face,” says Hayes, a greenkeeper who will be 39 this month. “It’s about having the confidence to play what’s in front of you and using the drills and exercises that you practise in the week.”
Pershore made a shocking start to the season, leaking 60 and 74 points on successive league weekends, but an honesty session prompted a remarkable upsurge in fortunes. A superb win at second-placed Old Leamingtonians was the prelude to a perfect October, defeats of Old Wheatleyans (31-24), Shrewsbury (27-20, cup), Redditch (50-3) and Woodrush (34-0) propelling Pershore up the table.
Martin Hope is a beast of a No 8 who scored two hat-tricks during the month, lightning wing Stefan Ellis is another potent scorer while loosehead Alex Peel typifies the rugged industry of a team in which Hayes himself has appeared at centre. He had last laced his boots in anger at Malvern a couple of years ago.
Pershore are our October Team of the Month and receive a set of 22 Canterbury kitbags.
This article appeared in the January 2013 issue of Rugby World Magazine.