Three months into his role at the Rugby Football Union and Gordon Lord says he has been impressed by the quality of ‘home grown’ coaches in England.
Lord began as head of professional coach development in April and his role will see him support, stretch and challenge the development of professional coaches working with England teams, Premiership clubs and with targeted coaches in the Championship and academies.
He joined the RFU from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) where he worked for over 25 years, first as a national coach and then most recently as head of elite coach development.
And he feels professional coaching in English rugby is in a healthy position.
'Appetite for development'
“Already in this role, I've met and observed some outstanding "home grown" coaches,” said Lord.
“The exciting thing for me is the appetite for continued development and learning amongst the people I’ve met so far.
“I believe that coaching (at any level) is a privilege and as coaches, we all have a responsibility to be as good as we possibly can be. I’m seeing that attitude in rugby coaches.
In his previous role, which he held since 2006, Lord was responsible for the development and leadership of the ECB elite coach development strategy and of a new game-wide coach development strategy.
So in his eyes, what makes a great coach?
"I've found that some of the most successful coaches I've worked with have been very comfortable sharing what they currently do with others,” he revealed.
“Similarly, they are always actively looking for the next thing that may offer an advantage. They are relentless about their own development as well as that of the players and the other coaches with whom they work”
He added: “The most effective coaches I know are highly aware of themselves, attuned to others and incredibly sensitive to what is “going on” within the group. They are able to be able to influence others through their own behaviour and are able to draw on a range of different approaches to achieve this.”
At the RFU he is currently building on his success in cricket to create a professional coach development system, drawn from Premiership coaches, capable of regularly producing individuals with the calibre to lead a successful national team. “I am passionate about coaching and the development of our coaches."
“I am passionate about coaching and the development of our coaches,” he added.
“My initial focus is to understand and support the development of coaches currently working in the Premiership, in partnership with the directors of rugby.
“My job is also to ensure our system as well as the environments and opportunities we create for our own coaches, English coaches, are such that when the time comes there will be a number of coaches who are ready, able and willing to take on national roles.”
So what is his own coaching philosophy?
“My coaching philosophy is quite simple, ‘understand yourself, understand people, know the game, and keep learning….fast’.”