Lessons from one of England’s most impressive coaches

  • Gareth Waterfield, winner of the RFU President’s Award, has transformed girls rugby in his area
  • Being profoundly deaf hasn't stopped Waterfield becoming one of the country's top grassroots coaches 

Four years after deciding to set up a girls rugby team at Winscombe RFC, Somerset, Gareth Waterfield has gone on to become one of the country’s most impressive coaches.

One new girls side set up by Waterfield in 2012 soon turned into three and Waterfield has now overseen the introduction of rugby to over 80 girls between U13 and U18 who are all playing regularly with several having gone on to be part of the England Talent Development group. Waterfield’s achievements in the sport are even more impressive considering he is profoundly deaf. 

“More important than anything else in coaching is having patience, humour and understanding,” says Waterfield. “That’s what has got me through.”


Having begun assisting as a coach at a local school, Waterfield noticed a demand among girls to continue to play more regularly and so he gained his level 1 coaching qualification through the RFU and subsequently set up an U13, U15 and U18 girls team at Winscombe. 

In only their second year the U15s went on to win the South West Girls Cup and Waterfield’s efforts were rewarded at the RFU President’s Awards where he was awarded the 'People Power – Coaches' prize last month.


"I am very passionate about growing the game, especially for girls,” says Waterfield.

After taking his level 1 and 2 rugby coaching course, Waterfield has also taken several Continuing Personal Development Courses (CPD) through the RFU and is now intending on getting his level 2 qualification.

"My advice to anyone who wants to get involved in coaching it to do the Rugby Ready and CPD courses through the RFU as they are a great introduction,” says Waterfield.

"All of the coaches I work with at Winscombe have taken it and that’s been a huge part of the success we’ve had."

As well as teaching the basics of the game to new players, Waterfield says the key to coaching is adding variety.

"You need to be able to differentiate your coaching depending on the ability of your players, from those who are just beginning to advanced players who have been playing the game for years.

"Training needs to be fun and if needs to teach people the values that the rugby embodies."


To be effective, a coach needs to fulfil the technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects of the game, elements that are all covered in the RFU’s numerous coaching courses including the Keep Your Boots on programme. 

The courses cover those striving to work at the elite level of the game to volunteers wanting to help coach junior rugby on a Sunday morning and everyone in between. 

Before you find a course that works best for you, have a read of the Introduction to Rugby booklet here and then book yourself onto a Rugby Ready course here to get started.