ON A fresh Thursday evening last week Manor Park of Nuneaton were going through some defensive drills. Their men’s team have been leaking valuable points in Midlands 3 West (South) and they can struggle to retain players as the third club in town, behind Nuneaton and Old Edwardians, but the boys were knocking their pan in.
England’s defence coach Andy Farrell was clearly delighted with what he saw there.
The club won the RFU’s #winFaz competition to have the coach at training and in front of an enthusiastic squad he helped put them through some of the points he covers with the national team.
“This is what it’s all about, to see where we come from and go back to see what real rugby is like,” he told RW after the session. “These are the sort of people we play for, as England. We look at the culture with England and we want these people to be proud to be English.”
Although this specialist session was a competition prize, Farrell treated it as he would any he does with England and although he has a Test series against the All Black in New Zealand to look forward to, sessions like these are just as important for Farrell.
“These are good people; the rugby family,” Farrell continues. “You can see the wives and girlfriends and mums and dads watching our session as well, which shows what this means to them. These guys may be underdogs but if they start losing two or three points less and buy into it, their game gets a lift. These are the same people they play rugby with every week and they are a reliable team. That’s why we play rugby at the weekend, right? To play with alongside the mates you rely on.”
The Lions defence coach ran through a bit of organisation with the team, looking at their spacing and calls. He assessed their linespeed and even looked at good practice in terms of individual tackling technique. Intense certainly, but also enjoyable. As Farrell said with a laugh: “We got there in the end and it was fantastic.”
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