World Cup winner is loving life at Chobham

THE man who led England’s women to World Cup success says that volunteering with Chobham’s mixed-ability side Surrey Chargers is helping his coaching.

As head coach, Gary Street masterminded England’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup triumph – but he is loving his time helping out at Fowlers Wells on Saturday mornings.

Harlequins rugby coach Gary Street, who masterminded England’s Women’s World Cup victory in 2014, says coaching the Surrey Chargers mixed ability team is helping him grow as a coach

The 54-year-old, who now heads the academy at Harlequins, told the News & Mail: “I saw something on the Chobham website about volunteers being needed.

“Rugby has been my life. I’ve been a professional rugby coach for a long time.

“I thought ‘What an amazing opportunity if I can help in any way’.

“I suppose I just love the game, and if I can help in any way for such amazing people with a mixed range of abilities, if I can give my time on a Saturday morning, and there’s a 1% benefit of me being there, then great.

“This isn’t a Harlequins thing as this is for my enjoyment. It’s so rewarding, and it’s good for my coaching.”

Surrey Chargers cater for able-bodied players alongside those with learning and physical disabilities. For Street, this has opened the door to different coaching techniques.

He said: “Some of the people here who have autism need to be directedly told at times, which is a different style of coaching from what I’m used to.

“But it’s about trying to understand the individuals, which is quite interesting for me. It’s about understanding the players.

“Any good coach needs to care about the players they are with. So, off the rugby pitch, I’ve been trying to find out as much as I can about their ability and trying to understand best how I can help them.

“They’re all very different. What’s intriguing for me after 25 years of coaching is finding new ways of coaching individuals.

“It’s a real challenge to try to understand, and it’s helping my coaching. You never stop learning as a coach.

“There’s more individual coaching for a mixed-ability side than there is for an ability group of 25. “But this is quite specific to everybody. It’s about knowing what motivates them and what they come here for.”

Street wants to coach at Chobham for as long as possible. He aims to use the experience as an opportunity to become a promoter of mixed-ability rugby at the RFU.

He said: “I would love to carry on here for as long as possible. It all depends on work a little bit.

“But while we’re in the off-season, this is completely my time at the moment. We’ll have to see what the new season brings about and what my time commitment can be.

“The enjoyment of some of the players is brilliant. I want them to have a great time, and I hope my experience can help.

“I’ve already had a chat about the vision of the club and the vision of how mixed-ability rugby goes forward.

“I think it’s not clear with the governing body about what mixed-ability rugby looks like. That needs some clarification. I could help that governance-wise because I think I have some influence at the RFU.

“It will be interesting if [ex-England star] Maggie Alphonsi becomes the new chair of the RFU, which I think she has a good shot of. She was born with a club foot.

“I think vision-wise and being one of the coaches, I can help [at Chobham]. I’m just here to support.

“I don’t want to take anything off these people who do an amazing job.”

Surrey Chargers train at Fowlers Wells at 10.30am every Saturday. If you are interested in joining in, call Mike O’Regan on 07808 630053.

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