GILTINIS COACHING CLINIC PROVIDES UNRIVALLED EXPERIENCE TO U.S. RUGBY COACHES
By: Colton Strickler
Chris Hanson is the head coach of the University of Colorado and Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado, but he’s been making frequent trips out to Southern California this spring.
He makes the trek because he wants to capitalize on a rare opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade from international rugby players and coaches at the Prepare to Win Coaches Clinic that the L.A. Giltinis and Wintergreen have put on over the last few months.
“It’s amazing,” Hanson said of his experience at the first three clinics. “I’m an education freak when it comes to rugby and coaching clinics. This one is just amazing. These are international level players and coaches that are doing this for free.”
When the 2022 Major League Rugby season is in the books, the Giltinis will have hosted five different coaching clinics covering a wide range of topics. Coaches from all levels have been able to attend these sessions free of charge to learn about building a winning culture, attack, skills, and shape, and dominating the set piece from the rugby royalty that make up the Giltinis organization. There will be two more sessions in June that cover defensive tactics and preparing to win off the field.
Kevin Battle, Dave Clancy, Stephen Hoiles, Adam Ashe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, and Les Makin have been a few of the speakers that have dropped in to share some of their knowledge with the hungry coaches in attendance.
The sessions start around 8 AM at the Giltinis headquarters in El Segundo on days that the Giltinis play at home. They go through a classroom session before heading into the gym to get a live look at some of the things they’ve covered in the classroom before heading back into the classroom to wrap things up. After the session, the coaches that were in attendance are invited to watch the Giltinis match later that day from a suite atop the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. With the best seat in the house, they can observe the Giltinis executing some of the new things that they just learned in the clinic that morning.
“The coaches continue to talk amongst themselves about what they are doing in their programs and what they learned and ask questions about other things,” Hanson said of the gameday experience. “It’s good networking and the education is just top shelf.”
Perhaps the most amazing part of the clinic is that nothing is off limits. The speakers aren’t afraid to talk about the exact gameplan that they will be employing in the match that will take place just a few hours after the clinic concludes.
“They are not afraid to talk about their gameplans,” Hanson said. “When they do these clinics, it’s happening the day of the match. Stephen Hoiles and Adam Ashley-Cooper weren’t afraid to say that they run a 1-3-3-1 shape, and here is what they are going to be focusing on and here is what they know about the team that they are playing today, so here is how they’ve changed their gameplan a little bit. They tell us to look for things in their lineouts. Look for this in thier launch plays in their scrums. You could see so many lightbulbs come on.”
According to Hanson, the Giltinis have tailored these clinics to answer the questions of the coaches in attendance. Nothing is set in stone.
“It’s different at each clinic because the way that the presenter will start off is by talking about what the focus is, but they always ask us what we’re interested in knowing about,” Hanson said. “Everyone in the clinic will say something a little bit different, so they will write it on the board and then they will address it. If everybody had questions about how to properly bind your second row to the front row, that’s what they would focus on and they would go out and make everybody do it. It’s really up to the group on what they want to know, and the coaches address it.”
Hanson has been blown away by the quality of this clinic, and he thinks that it’s something that could be replicated by MLR teams across the country moving forward.
“This needs to take place around the country,” Hanson said. “Every MLR team should be trying to do this. It’s amazing.”
On top of the lessons that they are learning from the best rugby has to offer, Wintergreen is also supplying the coaches in attendance with product and a brochure that can serve as a turnkey warmup routine for their teams.
“Wintergreen decided to sponsor this because they believe in it,” Hanson said. “The owner and founder of Wintergreen and Prime Brands is 100 percent behind grassroots rugby. That’s been our role with Wintergreen to change the mindset on how to properly warmup, prepare to win, and recover. Hopefully the coaches start using this kind of stuff.”
Banner image credit: Rosanne Leith