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'I teach my players rugby': Pep Guardiola reveals why he is a fan

By Liam Heagney

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Esteemed Manchester City football boss Pep Guardiola has revealed he is a fan of rugby and that he uses one particular XV tactic when he is coaching his Premiership title-winning footballers. The Spaniard, who has also coached at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, is seen as one of football’s greatest modern-day managers but an in-depth feature article on The Athletic this week illustrated why Guardiola is also a rugby fan.

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With London club Brentford back in the English top-flight for the first time in 74 years and preparing to open the 2021/22 season with an August 13 match versus Arsenal, an extensive interview was conducted with Lee Dykes, their director of player recruitment for the past two years.

Dykes worked at Bury prior to his switch to London and while there he was completing a masters degree in sporting directorship at the University of Salford, a course that featured a lecture from Guardiola.

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Here’s what unfolded that afternoon: “It was a group situation, a little theatre at the Man City training ground with about 15 of us,” explained Dykes. “Just unbelievable. One of the most amazing things — as a former rugby league player — was when Pep saw a guy from rugby union on the course. He had a rugby top on.

“Guardiola picked him out and said, ‘Rugby?’

“’Yeah’, said the fella. He was building a new rugby association in Holland.

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“‘Rugby is brilliant’, said Pep. ‘I teach my players rugby’.

“‘What do you mean?’, the fella asked.

“‘Rugby, you get the ball, you run towards the man, you draw him in and you pass’.

“Now,” Dykes said, “I watch Man City and it is player after player dragging an opponent in — then pass. Incredible. I bet in all the teaching programmes in England, no one has that in the syllabus. And you have Pep Guardiola saying, ‘I do this with my first-team players’. It just makes you think.”

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'I teach my players rugby': Pep Guardiola reveals why he is a fan

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