This month’s blog features an interview with rugby kicking coach, Rich Whincup.
Newly appointed consultant to the Swedish Ladies Team he is a full time Wasps supporter, advocate for the Duke Of Edinburgh Awards and raising awareness for stammering through the McGuire Programme.
Tell us a little bit about you and where your love of rugby started?
As a player….I fell for rugby early, joining Stow-on-the-Wold Rugby Club at the age of 5 and playing all the way through the youth system. Injury at 20 stopped me being able to play higher level rugby, but after a spell at Cirencester RFC, I now play very occasionally at Tewkesbury.
“I would like to play one game with my son, which should be in 2023, following which I will happily retire!!”
As for becoming a Kicking Coach, Rob Andrew has a lot to do with it. I used to watch him kick, time and time again, with such accuracy and control – I was amazed. He was part of the development of kicking.
As a dad you get involved with your kids teams and while coaching my sons U6s I was recruited by the Gloucestershire RFU to coach the girls U15. From there I joined Gloucester-Hartpury Women RFC and I am their specialist kicking coach focusing on everything from place kicking to punting.
“It’s an honour to work with the kickers as they are all very different, but all very focused.”
With my experience in the ladies game I was asked to become the Consultant Kicking Coach to the Sweden Ladies National Team – part of an English team under Head Coach Kevin Moggridge, I am looking forward to renewed success for the Swedish Team after a 3 year leave of absence.
What are your top tips to becoming a good kicker?
Success as a goal kicker is all about consistency. It’s about a process, developing something that works for the individual kicker, but as a repeatable multi-step process.
“For me, kicking is all about the 3 Rs. Rhythm, Repetition, and Routine.”
• Rhythm – establish a flow, and pattern to your whole action.
• Repetition – every kick is the same, irrespective of where you are in the pitch.
• Routine – always do the same thing, never change the process of your action.
“Too many people kick the ball, success is all about kicking through it. Kick with our body, not just with your leg or your foot.”
What do you think has attributed to the rise in popularity in the ladies/women’s game and the number of women’s teams?
It’s just fantastic to see the increase in the popularity of women’s rugby both in participating and spectating. The women’s game has really kicked on over the last 10 years, the success of the England Red Roses in the 2013 Rugby World Cup really brought the sport to the forefront of the nation’s attention. That caused a real spike in participation at grassroots level, and gave rise to the introduction of the County Championships in 2016, now the Tyrrells Premier 15s in its first season, and the first ever Barbarian Women touring team.
“The women’s game is only going in a positive direction, and it’s a job to be a very small part of it.”
Who is your all time England Rugby Union player?
Lawrence Dallaglio – As a Wasps fan, he is an idol. A man who led his team with passion, courage and strength. A true legend of the game.
Our mantra at the Rugby Ball Light is ‘Rugby in a different light’ – what’s the one difference you’d like to see in rugby now and in the future?
Sadly, Rugby is starting to lose some of its old traditional values and there are pressures to focus on results rather than developing the players’ skills and attitudes. Players cannot physically continue to increase in size and strength safely to meet these higher performance expectations….the recent amount to elite level player injuries has to be a cause for concern.
Although the game has to become more professional at many levels it still needs to maintain its tangible connections with its fans.
“More positively, rugby continues to be a sport for all. A sport that everyone can play, a sport which has the power to bring people together regardless of shape, size, colour, religion, ability and background. “
Rugby helps people to make friends, get healthier and generally enjoy themselves, few other activities can promise these things.
Ending on a high – we love your passion.
And we believe your son already has one of our Rugby Ball Lights?
“Yes my son has had your Rugby Ball Light for nearly a year now and loves it. It is on all night, every night – it’s a great gift for rugby fans”
Follow Rich on Twitter @RichWhincup