With the sun shining and us feeling the first signs of spring, the London Scottish minis enjoyed a second consecutive week of the professional 1st XV visiting Sunday morning training! This simply doesn’t happen at any other club.
Despite playing against table topping Bristol the previous day, both Ross Neal (Centre) and Ben Onyeama-Christie (Prop) spent the morning working U9’s players and coaches, bringing a terrifically insightful dimension to coaching and immediately gaining the complete respect of all in attendance. The young players were enthused to learn that the exercises and drills they practice are just as important at pro level and are used in the 1st XV training sessions. The fact that these pro players gave up their Sunday morning to coach the minis is testament to the One Club mantra that defines London Scottish so well.
Dave Morris and Corné Du Rand (Directors of Rugby) and Andrew Evans (Community Coaching Manager) were all in attendance supporting the initiative of the wider club involvement which is utterly terrific.
During training the U9’s focus once again was firmly on building confidence and safety to the tackle. We started right back at basics with children on their knees refreshing memory of both how to tackle and be tackled. The attacker ensuring they go in low using the shoulder first, then driving through with the all-important “ring of steel” and “cheek to cheek”. The ball carrier was coached to ensure they allow themselves to go to ground safely while protecting the ball from knock on.
With the basics in the bag, training moved on to two simultaneous sessions, one using our old friend “rollie” the round tackle bag which the children tackled as it was rolled towards them and the other in a “tackle tunnel” starting with walking pace tackles and building to full speed. We talked about the advantage of getting the tackle in early before your opponent has an opportunity to build pace along with all aspects of making that perfect tackle.
Ross and Ben took a team each for a quick game of “connect four” before moving into matches. The children say this as a the perfect opportunity to bring a whole new level of competiveness to the games citing Ben’s team as Bristol and Ross’s team as London Scottish. Records will show the “grudge match” fell this time firmly in favour of the home side with them sneaking two more tries than the “visiting” Bristol! During games play was frequently stopped to analyse pitch position of players, how to best take advantage of a given opportunity and of course ensuring all the work done in tackling drills was being carried through to the matches.
Post-match, as coaches and the professional players finally enjoyed a well-deserved coffee and roll, the kids were desperate to ask the players two things;
As it turns out Ben supports Liverpool and Ross supports Arsenal, from which he took a bit of a roasting from young Sam (under 8) who declared “How did you manage to lose against Swansea!”
Ben admitted he loves a good burger and Ross said “you can’t beat fish and chips”! Much discussion then followed as to exactly which pizza house is the best!
All in all, an utterly fantastic morning of rugby and fun had by all. Ross and Ben, two professional players epitomise everything that you could want from a club. Two brilliant and committed players on the field and utter gentlemen off the pitch who gave up their Sunday morning to help coach the London Scottish Minis. #OneClub