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Will Cotterill plans take shape at Shelford Rugby Club with new-look coaching and management team

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Shelford director of rugby and head coach Will Cotterill. Picture: Steven Illingworth (34060538)
Shelford director of rugby and head coach Will Cotterill. Picture: Steven Illingworth (34060538)

Will Cotterill has put the finishing touches to his coaching and management team at Shelford Rugby Club.

Having taken over as head coach and director of rugby on a temporary basis after Christmas, he was appointed to the role full-time at the start of March.

A four-game winning run ensured their safety in a truncated London League 1N campaign, and now plans are being put in place for the 2020/21 season.

Miles Anderson and Solo Baleisolomone had already been confirmed as staying on in their posts.

Injury had brought a premature end to Anderson’s playing days but he stepped up to the mark to become forwards coach and retains the role with the first XV going forward.

Baleisolomone is the Nomads’ second team head coach, having previously held roles at Redwings Army Rugby Club, Bancroft, Pacific Islanders RFC and Saffron Walden, and as a development coach at Harlequins and London Irish.

But the two newcomers are John Naylor and Johnny Berwick.

Naylor arrives as backs coach for the first XV and is a familiar face at the Davey Field having been a player there before heading off to St Ives for three years as head coach.

He is also the rugby development manager for Cambridge University RUFC, overseeing the elite women’s performance programme and women’s development programme.

“The move to St Ives was very much his move into the coaching career and doing his Level 3 (coaching badge),” said Cotterill.

“I think at that stage he needed to be a head coach at a club and there wasn’t the opportunity here at Shelford for him.

“It was one of the main drivers for him moving across to St Ives, and he had been there for three years, done a great job, got them promoted and he is obviously very active at Cambridge University as well.

“To get him back is a fantastic coup for us. He is a top bloke, a very experienced player and a very good coach. He will add a lot to the coaching staff for the first XV.”

Berwick will be the new Nomads’ forwards coach.

He has held coaching positions at Wasps, London Irish and Middlesex County RFC, and is currently teaching and working with the rugby programme at Comberton Village College and the Northampton Saints community rugby team.

St Neots born and bred Berwick has also been head coach at his hometown club.

“He has the tertiary qualification so his understanding of rugby and athletic development is really good,” said Cotterill.

“He has some really good experience. From a second XV point of view, both him and Solo have had a lot of experience working in that player development space.

“For our second XV, to transition our youth into that programme and have coaches that are really good at ID-ing what players need to do to develop will be a real strength.

“It’s essentially what we want to use that second XV for, so Johnny and Solo together will be fantastic.”

It is one of the main focuses of Cotterill, to bridge the gap between the first and second teams and help the flow of youngsters into the first team, with the ultimate goal of returning to the National Leagues.

“When I came over this season one of the things that was clearly obvious was that we were missing a well-rounded coaching team for the senior squad, and by that I mean the first XV and the second XV,” he said.

“There was quite a divide and the focus was very much on the first XV, and the second XV didn’t have a coach in place, it was a player-run programme.

“But if you look at the season, we would have used 35-plus players for the first XV, which shows the importance of having a well-run second XV programme that is as closely-aligned to your first XV programme as possible.

“It is something we worked on last season, and having Solo come on board was fantastic.

“Milo staying on board and being the forwards coach for both teams was brilliant but knowing that next season we just needed to add a little bit extra to the squad so that we’ve got coaching coverage and management coverage for both teams.”

On the management side of the teams, Shelford have made a few changes.

Tom Arnold will continue as first-team manager but is seeking to return to playing again next season.

It means that Steve Cracknell will assist Arnold with some of the day-to-day management roles, as well as being the first XV game-day manager.

Dan Whiddett will become the Nomads’ team manager to assist Baleisolomone and Berwick.

“Having a good manager makes it so much easier for the coaches to do the coaching, and the players to focus on getting the job done.” said Cotterill.

“It underpins everything we’re trying to do.

“We’re really happy to have a good management team pulled together.”

Completing the set up, Tony Begovich and Grant Anderson, of Milan Fitness, will lead the squad’s strength and conditioning programme.

Cotterill added: “They are both really good, experienced players, they know what needs to be done, and the players enjoy working with them.”

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