SEAN Fletcher has been a coach at Firwood Waterloo Rugby Club for the past three years and has now been appointed as Head Coach. We caught up with the former player in April 2020 to chat about his full life in rugby and what we can expect from him as coach.
He said: “We are disappointed not to be able to complete the season and fight for a promotion place, but although we started off slowly last September, as the season progressed we just got better and better.
“I think the main aspect of that is that although we had retained so many players from last season, when trying to embed the new players we struggled initially to secure enough possession early on. “We tried different variations and then once people started understanding what we had asked of them, that’s when it started to tip the right way.
“I think that we were then playing some of the best rugby I’ve seen for a few years
“For me it was exactly that. You always aim to play good rugby for the spectators and for us to enjoy, but it does not always go that way. If you are a heavy pack, you might have to go a bit top heavy but that back line that we have created together with the forwards’ understanding of the shape that we want to play, it very quickly knitted itself together. When you think of those first few games, we had a lot of disruption.
“Luke Clifford was unavailable for quite a good chunk before Christmas because of various things, we were embedding Will Meades at 8. Just in that spine – that key bit, we just did not have the continuity we needed.
- So, that must have been a good arena for you to build your experience?
“Yes indeed and in my time at Waterloo I played open age for Lancashire, North of England and it was on a North of England tour of Italy I got asked to join Sale in the first year of professional rugby in 1995/96 if I remember rightly. So I was in the professional set up at Sale when they first started.”
-How did you combine that with your career?
“ I was permanently knackered! I was very lucky as I had just got onto a plain clothes team and my shifts were a bit more flexible, but I had to declare rugby as a secondary employment for Police regulations. There were some adaptions made – I used to go very early in the morning and work my shift.
“I was allowed to work a split shift so I would work from maybe five in the morning up until 11 o’clock and then I would go off duty , go to train at Sale professionally and then return after three to four hours back to complete my shift.
“It was a tough old two or three seasons, but well worth it as I was learning my trade. And who wouldn’t want a taste of professionalism? I was very lucky to be able to do it and maintain my long term career as well. I am grateful to the Police who were very accommodating at the time.”
- So now you are head Coach at Firwood Waterloo. What are your aspirations for our club?
“My main aspirations are to create a stronger link between the junior and senior sections. I think we have such a good history in our mini and juniors, we need to work to another level to make sure that we retain these players. We want these young players to stay around the club rather than looking at other clubs that are on our doorstep. We started that last year by highlighting in the programme those players who had come from the junior section. Elements like that I think we need to carry building, hence one of the first appointments we made was to bring in Kevin Brookman and start working with us on the coaching team.
“My goal is to improve the junior and senior integration in our club, to make it a real place at which these kids aspire to play. Currently I don’t know the mini and junior coaches. So if I don’t know them, I can’t expect them to come to me. I’d like the juniors involved more on a Saturday afternoon and invite the coaches onto the pitch as we are doing our pre-match warm up. We’re going to benefit as we will get to know faces around the club, they can see what are planning for senior rugby and talk about what we do.”