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'A really important skill to train': Why Proudfoot mirrors Jones by also coaching elsewhere

By Liam Heagney

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England assistant Matt Proudfoot has stressed the importance of being able to coach elsewhere outside of the dozen or so weeks he annually spends working with the Eddie Jones-led national team. Jones has come in for criticism in recent times for flying to Japan to do some additional coaching, but that didn’t persuade him to stop and he has since revealed he spent a day at Leicester last week. 

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“I spent the day up there with him [Steve Borthwick]. Managed to do a little bit of coaching. I know I am not supposed to coach another team so I apologise now, I apologise for coaching another team but I was able to do a little bit of practice there and it was good,” said Jones about his midweek Premiership club coaching visit. 

It followed on from Jones’ insistence the previous week about how he needed to experience other environments. “I’m a coach, I have got to practise coaching. If you are a golfer you play golf, if you’re a coach you coach and I only get twelve weeks a year to coach with England so I have got to use my time in between to practise coaching and find better ways to coach.”

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Jamie Roberts and Simon Zebo star on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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Jamie Roberts and Simon Zebo star on the latest RugbyPass Offload

It’s something that current England assistant Proudfoot agrees with. Asked by RugbyPass what he does in the weeks when he is not working with the national team he joined after helping the Springboks to win the 2019 World Cup, he said: “I spend time with the U20s. I went up to the camp at Loughborough. 

“It’s really important for an international coach that you get to do that. It’s not just the detail that you are coaching but it is your eye, you see the detail you coach, and then the ability to interact with different players, learn new skills and communicating. It’s about personal relationships and how you communicate with people. That is a really important skill to train.”

Asked for an example of this hands-on detail which he alluded to, Proudfoot continued: “So particularly the scrum you could be focusing on the bind for an example and if you haven’t coached in a long time you might look at the outcome and not what the key coaching point of it, what is the key coaching parts, so how early you must bind.

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“If you forget to do the coaching of it, it’s like running through a checklist of a manual. You are automatically looking at what is the outcome so when you want to correct a problem you are trying to create the outcome without going through the process, so that is an important aspect to keep yourself active. When you are watching on TV it is not the same as coaching.”

Unlike in England where regular coaching at club teams by national team coaches doesn’t really happen, Proudfoot added the set-up was very different when he worked in South Africa as club coaching figured in his weekly schedule outside of his Springboks duties.

“The South African environment, you were associated with two franchises so you had to visit franchises on a Tuesday and I built up relationships up with those coaches that I would coach the scrum, giving myself the opportunity to do that, and then I was also responsible for the Varsity Cups, so I would go to the Varsity Cup teams and assist there which was great. Being a professional coach you want to coach, you don’t want to sit behind a laptop.”

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'A really important skill to train': Why Proudfoot mirrors Jones by also coaching elsewhere

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