Will Cotterill enthused by a promising future at Shelford Rugby Club and their young guns
Will Cotterill can see a promising future for Shelford after they made it four wins in a row with a 19-3 victory at Brentwood in London League 1N.
It was the first game since Cotterill was confirmed as director of rugby, having previously been interim head coach, and his faith in the young squad reaped its rewards in Essex.
Tries from Louis Tang and Charlie Baker and three penalties from Lewis Cracknell secured the victory as Shelford demonstrated how well they have taken on Cotterill's methods.
"We had a really good win against Sudbury and that whole January block was about working with the team and getting them playing the style of rugby I want them to play," he said.
"We had an unfortunate loss at Chinnor, but we got a bit better at Harpenden and a bit better against Old Haberdashers and then we've hit the ground running in February and got these four wins," he said.
"The last two games we've had seven or eight regular first-choice players out of action but it has allowed us to put a really young team out, with a good mix of old heads in there like Matt Gregerson, Charlie Baker and Shingai Chiwanga.
"Some really good young players have come through our programme and as director of rugby, that is one of my main charges, to transition more of our youth into our first XV.
"Lining that up as we go back into the National Leagues as well so we are in a much more sustainable position from a playing point of view because we're developing our own.
Developing players through the system is a pride and joy of Cotterill, and it is an area in which he is well versed.
"I love working in that transition space, I always have. Just before I came over here I was at Bond University [in Australia] and head of their colts programme, which was basically up to under-20s," he said.
"We started them at 14 and had them on a pathway programme that they were with other local clubs but would come to us two or three times a week for athletic conditioning, core skill development to build them all the way through.
"We've got so many of them here, at Shelford, that even if four or five of them stuck each season then you add that up over four or five years and you've easily got 20 good young players in your first XV squad.
"It's a really enjoyable product to be part of. "
Cotterill, who turned down the opportunity to become Cambridge's director of rugby to stay at the Davey Field, is already shaping plans for next season.
Miles Anderson had to retire earlier in the season because of a neck injury but has taken over as forwards' coach and Solo Baleisolomone took over the Nomads to help with the first team to assist the transition of the younger players.
"Miles has really thrown himself in there and building a really good relationship with the players," said Cotterill.
"It's quite difficult for a player to transition into coaching and essentially coaching his peers a lot of them, but they have really responded well to him. And our set piece has improved out of sight."
He added: "We will look to recruit probably another two coaches in to help work with the squad.
"I will be director of rugby and lead the coaching programme, and we should have Miles plus one in the first XV and Solo plus one with the Nomads, which would be a superb group."