We were incredibly honoured that Shaun Edwards OBE was one of our guest speakers at our Annual Sports Dinner almost two weeks ago, and grateful when he also agreed to take a training session with a group of our rugby players.
Shaun made his name in Rugby League playing for Wigan, England and Great Britain. He won 8 Challenge Cups and 3 World Club Championships and was voted Man of Steel in 1990, before switching codes for a hugely successful coaching career in Rugby Union. 10 successful years as Head Coach at Wasps led to his current role as Assistant Coach for Wales and the Defence Coach on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa.
Shaun visited us on 12th January, and along with Anya Shrubsole MBE, was one of our two guest speakers at our Annual Sports Dinner. This is an annual fundraising event to raise money for Seaford Sport which involved auctions, raffles, games, and Q&A’s with our guests. It was a fantastic evening, enjoyed by all, but before the evening began, Shaun took a two hour training session with a group of our senior rugby players.
“I’m old enough to remember Shaun playing as a youngster, playing countless Challenge Cup Finals with Wigan,” said Liam Doubler, Seaford’s Director of Sport. “So it was really great to meet him.”
It was clear from the outset that Shaun wasn’t going to take it easy on our boys, putting them through their paces in an intense training session that tested their fitness, and he gave them some real insights to help improve their game. But to anyone watching the sessions, it was amazing to see that his teaching had an immediate impact.
“Just to see Shaun, someone who’s coached some of the best players in the world, for the last 10 to 15 years, it’s fantastic to see the intensity and passion he brings to the session, and our boys responded massively to that,” said Liam. “You see the way they were working and responding to Shaun, it was awesome.”
The students involved found the session tough, but highly enjoyable.
“All the boys really enjoyed it,” said Josh Goodwin, one of our First XV players, in Year 13. “Shaun brought another intensity to our game, both attack and defence, which is really useful and we can take into next season and this season.”
“I think it was brilliant,” added Alfie Ransom, the First XV Captain, in Year 13. “It’s an honour for the school to have Shaun down here today. He showed us some new bits out there, he brought a new intensity to our rugby. He showed us how to take our defence and turn it into a way of attacking a team, and to be honest I think for the boys that are lucky enough to be playing here next year, it’s going to take their game on leaps and bounds.”
After the training session, Shaun Edwards was full of praise for how quickly our players took his instructions on board.
“What I was most impressed with was their coachability. They seemed to take information on board very quickly, and react accordingly. I asked them to a couple of specific things and they virtually got it straight away.”
Watch our interview with Shaun below for more insights!
Even though the XV season is over for our players, we’re now entering the increasingly popular 7s season, but Alfie thinks there’s certainly something the players will be able to take from this session into the 7s tournament that we’re hosting here at Seaford on Sunday.
“It’s a big day for all of us, with so many schools coming to the College, and obviously it will be a different format, with less people on the pitch. But I still think we can take some of what Shaun’s shown us, and take it into our 7s tournament and hopefully get the best result we can, and use our defence as a way of attacking a team.”
“Well I think for one, the fitness at the end has shown we’ve got a bit of work to do,” added Josh. “But there’s also bringing that attack, kicking in behind, stuff like that, and in defence, putting pressure on the opposition, getting off that line quickly, which really puts teams under pressure.”
“That’s the standard we want now, for the rest of the season,” said Liam.
And what else did they take from the session? To Josh, some of Shaun’s statements really hit home.
“One of the things that stuck in my mind was his phrase, good players know they’re good players.”
Our head boy, Nicholas Caines, was also in awe of Shaun, and loved the opportunity to train with someone of his calibre, but he was certainly feeling the effects of the two hour session later on, as he was one of our students serving tables at the Sports Dinner that evening. “Walking around serving tables at the sports dinner was very hard, I could certainly feel it in my legs – we had to try and stop falling asleep!”
All in all, it was a fantastic display of coaching, and some valuable insight gained. Bring on Sunday!