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Mike Gillick to help develop Shelford Rugby Club starlets as new head of colts

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Mike Gillick in action for Shelford. Picture: Rich Marsham
Mike Gillick in action for Shelford. Picture: Rich Marsham

Mike Gillick is to return to Shelford Rugby Club charged with overseeing the pathway of colts players to the first team.

The former player and head coach will be back as head of colts, with the emphasis on a two-stage transition programme to get youngsters into senior rugby.

The first will be working with under-17 and under-18 players, so the colts age group, and the second will see the development into the academy, which is for under 18s, 19s and 20s.

“I’ve worked with Mike at St Faith’s and had contact with him here at Shelford when I first arrived and he was part of the coaching programme with Paul Turner and Darron Moore (the former head and assistant coaches),” said Shelford director of rugby Will Cotterill.

“He is very professional and very capable as a coach.”

Gillick will lead the programme and be assisted by Chris Clayton-Smith, a former coach of Shelford’s Nomads, and the parent coaches who have guided the youngsters from mini rugby will also be kept involved, with the aim of developing their coaching knowledge.

With the two age groups within the colts, it is hoped that some of the upper age group will progress to the academy, playing in both teams.

Also, there is the opportunity for those 17-year-olds capable and willing to train with the first team.

Another strand to the pathway structure will be Gillick Coaching delivering the youth rugby camps at the Davey Field.

“We have under-sevens through to under-16s in the programme that we run through the holidays predominantly,” said Cotterill.

“Mike would have contact points with those younger players as well which will be fantastic.

“We can already start to ID some of the players that are coming through the system.

“Future plans are to have a youth academy programme from under-16s down to under-13s, a bit like a DPP (Development Player Programme) and running some extra sessions with the more talented and more able players in those youth programmes – bridging the gaps between all the levels up to senior rugby. It’s building a nice flow from the lower youth age groups to senior rugby.”

Gillick spent four years as a player at Cambridge before moving to Shelford in 2016.

He was then appointed head coach while still playing in 2017, at a difficult period for the wider club, and held the role until last summer when he was replaced by Paul Turner though continuing in a coaching role before stepping away during the season.

Cotterill believes that the new role for Gillick will only serve to help the former backs coaching career in the long-term – having trod a similar path himself.

“Trying to play rugby while trying to coach rugby is a really difficult task,” said the director of rugby.

“It is very common for a player to finish playing, become a player-coach and then get into coaching full time.

“I was in exactly the same boat as Mike that as I was finishing playing, I went into player coaching peers, guys that I had played with, and every now and again I would have to put the boots on and run out and actually play with them.

“It’s hard to get that coach/athlete relationship, those barriers you need in place when you’re a coach.

“I stepped away from that and went and worked at Bond University on their colts programme, which was under-20s down.

“It was the best thing for me as a coach. It allowed me to work with a group of players that I wasn’t connected to as a friend or a fellow player and so it was coach/athlete and clear barriers. It really allowed me to develop my coaching.

“So when I stepped back into coaching senior men’s rugby again, I’m now the coach not the player or player-coach. I’ve got that separation.”

He added: “I think the
opportunity to establish that here at Shelford for him is great and it might be that in a few years he is back coaching first XV rugby but he is not a player coach.”

Passion for project was crucial

Mike Gillick in action for Shelford. Picture: Rich Marsham
Mike Gillick in action for Shelford. Picture: Rich Marsham

The belief in growing a club from within was the selling factor for Mike Gillick to return as head of colts.

He will be assisted in the new role by St Faith's colleague Chris Clayton-Smith, and was sold the vision by the Shelford director of rugby.

"When Will (Cotterill) approached me with the proposal of leading the colts set up for the coming season I initially had my reservations but it didn't take long for his passion for the project to come through," said Gillick.

"I have always been a firm believer of growing a club from 'within' and given the current climate, I'd struggle to find a more important objective. I have always been impressed with the youth set up at the club, the dedication and love shown by those committed children, parents and coaches does not go unnoticed and it's a real honour to be asked.

"I look forward to working with Andy and Carl who will know their squads inside out, and also with Chris who shares a similar philosophy to my own when it comes to the development and growth of these young men but also coaching.

"Having loosely followed the colts set up for the last few years and seeing their success I do not plan to change a huge amount, but instead to build on the great work that has been done before us to lay the incredible foundations they already have in place."

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