Over the past several years the Lancashire Development Centre, instigated by Rob Briers and Bob Grant, has supported coaches, clubs and players in developing their performance through coaching clinics and launching the highly successful Mentoring Programme under Chris Briers (top left). Mark Nelson (bottom right), Development Centre Manager, and Tom Fitzgerald, County Coaching Coordinator, have organised well over 50 sessions at over 30 clubs, universities and schools in the county with well in excess of 1000 attendees over that period. The host club always provides 1st XV players for the sessions and over the time frame of operation the initiative has actively worked with 2000 + rugby players in Lancashire.
The Development Centre Programme has attracted excellent deliverers ,many of whom are current and former Lancashire Players and also top line coaches operating at the coal face of the game today Brian Ashton ( Former England Head Coach ), Pete Anglesea ( Sale Sharks ), Lee Blackett ( Rotherham, Wasps ), Paul Turner ( Dragons ) and Clive Griffiths (Doncaster) to name a few. The Summer Conferences are always very well received and this year we hope to have Charlie Hodgson (Saracens & England) presenting. This programme is unique in England and demonstrates that Lancashire CRUFC ares market leaders in terms of development and support for clubs, university and schools coaches and players within the CB.
The County has embraced the RFU target audience of 14-24 age group and proactively instigated bespoke courses and events to enhance the playing and coaching of the game at all levels in Lancashire. Over 400 coaches have been in contact with the Development Centre Programme and they receive regular news on forthcoming events; many have also joined our Twitter and social media outlets. The outcome of this is that coaches from approximately half of the registered clubs in the County have attended one or more Development Centre events. We have also interacted with teachers and rugby deliverers from 19 rugby playing and emerging schools, seven colleges of Further Education and six universities. We have delivered a full day event specifically for teachers and , due to popular demand are planning more. There is currently a Development Centre programme designed to engage and support University rugby with Bolton being the pilot scheme.
The Development Centre works closely with the Club Coach Mentoring Scheme to provide, free of charge, to clubs in the scheme up to five two hour coach and player development sessions and ongoing mentoring personal contact throughout the season. At any one time between twelve to fourteen clubs is taking advantage of the mentoring scheme with many others waiting in the wings for resources and mentors to become available. The Mentor Scheme is delivered by specially trained coaches who have current or very recent experience of the playing the game at the highest levels in the County and who are turning their interests towards coaching and player development.
Lancashire CRFU now has a tremendous infra structure for the progression of coaches through the county system. One good example of this is Carl Fox who began coaching at Manchester mini juniors, then he attended many of the Development Centre Sessions ,gaining experience and qualifications, he was then recommended to Sedgley Park where he is currently 2nd XV Coach. A number of other coaches interacting with the Development Centre have also been put in touch with clubs seeking to make appointments to their 1st XV and other adult teams. In addition to this, many of the coaches regularly attending Development Centre Workshops have been encouraged to join the County and Sub-County coaching infrastructure starting with District Squads and moving into County Squad Coaching by way of attachments for experience and then formal appointment as vacancies occur.
It is vital that support is available to help coaches progress and Lancashire Development Centre work is pivotal in that structure alongside regular RFU programmes. Mark Nelson said “The County must be congratulated on its foresight and inspiration to establish this unique programme. Tom and myself have endeavoured to make quality coach education available to all coaches operating in Lancashire. Players and teams will only progress through quality coaching and we aim to offer real cutting edge insight into the modern game. It is great to link with the mentoring scheme run by Chris Briers and supported by RFU Area Training Officer, Dave Livesey, and I believe that the schemes have produced quality results over the years“