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January-April, 2010 - invited to work at the WRU's North Wales Project and the establishment of the North Wales regional team, RGC 1404 (Rygbi Gogledd Cymru).

Scroll down the page if you would like to view various details and images of my time with RGC 1404:

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From the mid-January to the end of April 2010 (approx' 4 months) I was invited by Head of Rugby Performance and Elite Player Development, Joe Lydon to work as the Skills and Conditioning Coach in the Welsh Rugby Union's North Wales project. In addition to this role I was also asked to make a contribution, where appropriate, to the off-field sports management/marketing aspects of the project and also the strategic development of rugby in the region. I also prepared a pre-season training manual for North Walian players to use in their 2010/11 pre-season training - click here to view this manual.

This "project" saw the introduction of a new regional team based at Colwyn Bay in North Wales and was seen by the WRU as in integeral element of its strategic development for rugby in this region. It was also deemed a potentially important piece of the elite player development pathway for Welsh qualified players.

This was a unique project in that it was not solely a project initiated and funded by the WRU but a partnership between a Community Interest Company (CIC), which was originally set up to "operate" and administer the day-to-day running of the team, Conwy County Burrough Council, Rugby Canada and the WRU. Partnerships between local communities, councils and unions or team owners are not "new" but the link with Rugby Canada is. Having two international unions join forces to develop players for their respective elite programmes is innovative and the first partnership of its kind that I've personally been involved with. However, in January 2011 the WRU took over the running and managment of the team.

More below...

Click on an image to enlarge:

RGCfivevfourdrill RGCcoaches Eirias-stadium seanpassing CliveGriffithscoaching
RGClastsupper RGCgym RGCtraining

The team's Head Coach was ex-Welsh rugby league and rugby union international and 2005 Welsh national team Grand Slam winning defensive coach, Clive Griffiths. Clive has been a professional coach for a long time and worked as a consultant to a range of professional teams in Wales and England, and also internationally (e.g. Rugby Canada). His most recent full-time professional appointment prior to agreeing to take on the role with RGC 1404 was as the Head coach with the English Premiership outfit, Worcester Warriors.

Clive and I had a great time working together and we both relished the many challenges thrown up almost daily in preparing a team on a very limited budget and with limited training facilities, etc. Because only 10-12 players (10 Canadians) were classified as full-time and available to train throughout the day, we had to train with the remaining RGC 1404 squad members (approx' 20-25 players), who were part-time, in the evenings.Training 3 times/day was not unusual - twice during the day with the full-time players and then once in the evening with the entire squad. Typically this would occur twice a week leading up to matches.

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RGC 1404 did not compete in a structured competition; all games were classified as "friendlies" agaisnt teams who were prepared to provide us with a match that fitted in with their own competition commitments. In total we played 11 games, winning 8 of them. Opposition included Academy teams from English Premiership clubs, Welsh Principality Premiership clubs and other invitational teams. Overall the standard of rugby was below that of the English Premiership or Guinness Pro 12 but it was still a perfect testing ground for the RGC 1404 and providing them with the ideal development experience.

Over the short-term the team will continue to play in a series of friendly matches but ultimately the goal is to compete in the Principality Premiership and possibly even establish a fifth regional team competing in the Rabo Direct Pro 12.

On a more personal level this was an amazing experience. I learnt a great deal from Clive and everyone else that I worked with at RGC 1404. Special mention has to go to our part-time forwards coach, Jason "Fozzy" Forster and technical analayst (video analysis), Marc "Sparky" Carter and WRU North Wales Academy Manager, Marc "Shrek" Roberts. We all had a lot of laughs during our time together and I'll have memories of this experience that will stay with me for a long time.


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