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Fagan takes the UK: Part 4

England Rugby's Coach Development Manager, Neil Craig with Chris Fagan. - Brisbane Lions
England Rugby's Coach Development Manager, Neil Craig with Chris Fagan.

While in the United Kingdom, Senior Coach Chris Fagan will be visiting a number of sporting teams and facilities to learn and develop as a Senior Coach. Here he writes about his time so far and the people he has met in the UK:

Wednesday, 14 November:

On Wednesday I headed off for a day with the England Rugby Union team who are currently in the middle of a series of international games.

They’ve played South Africa and New Zealand in recent weeks and have games coming up against Japan and Australia over the next two weeks.

Their training base is about 50kms outside of London at a place called Penny Hill Park.

It is an impressive facility and all the staff and players made me feel very welcome.

Neil Craig who coached the Adelaide Crows has a role as Coach Development Manager with the team and he generously facilitated my visit.

The day was a great learning experience for me with a couple of unexpected outcomes.

I watched the England team train – it was their main hit out for the week. The session was highly organised and purposeful.

I was able to attend the team meeting post training where the focus areas for their game against Japan at the weekend were discussed.

It was great to see the amount of player involvement in the meeting. This is something we have worked hard on at the Lions over the past two years, so it was good to see a high performing international team using similar methodologies to us.

Eddie Jones the Head Coach asked a lot of questions in the meeting probing the players understanding of what was required from them to achieve victory against Japan. He was pleased with their response and input.

Eddie Jones and Chris Fagan.

Later in the afternoon, I was able to spend an hour or so with Eddie and Neil Craig just talking about coaching, sharing philosophies on player management, creating team culture and how best to assist players to learn and develop.

It was time well spent with two men of vast coaching experience at the elite level.

The unexpected outcome of the day was that two other high profile coaches happened to be spending the day with the team as well. Craig Bellamy, the highly successful Melbourne Storm NRL Coach, and a fellow by the name of Frank Dick who works as a Coaching Consultant with the England team.

Frank would be less well known in Australia but in the UK he is a legendary track and field coach – his most famous pupil being two-time Olympic Decathlon Champion Daley Thompson.

Frank Dick and Chris Fagan.

He was head Coach of the British Athletics teams at four Olympic Games and is held in very high regard as a Coach Educator. 

Craig and I spent two hours watching training together and chatting about all things coaching and Frank gave me an hour of his time at the end of the day sharing his philosophies and experiences.

I will definitely stay in touch with him and check in with him from time to time for advice and learning.

Overall it was a productive learning day for me. The effort to get out to Penny Hill Lane was well worth it and my mind is still churning, reflecting on the many ideas I was able to glean from my conversations with four great coaches. 

Last day tomorrow so one more episode to go before I fly back to Brisbane on Friday night. Can’t wait to catch up with players and staff.

It was great to read Horse Whiting’s article on our website about his training session with our players.

The bit I loved most was when he referred to the fact that the training session was heavily player driven.

Our future success will be on the back of how hard our players can push each other to improve and how well they can work together so that was music to my ears.

Well done boys!!!

Cheers from England, 

Read Part 1 of Fagan Takes the UK
Read Part 2 of Fagan Takes the UK
Read Part 3 of Fagan Takes the UK
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs