Richard Tate: England University Rugby League
If you're not part of a scholarship or academy system, the University pathway is becoming an increasingly popular and viable route for players looking to develop and showcase their skills on a multi-national stage. I recently caught up with 'England University Rugby League' Head Coach Richard Tate, 29, to find out a little bit about his coaching background and the opportunities presented by the International university system and upcoming fixtures.
1. What is your coaching background?
"I’ve been coaching Rugby League for just over 12 years now and I started by just helping setting up the cones for drills/grids for the junior age groups whilst I was still playing at my old amateur club Hunslet Parkside ARLFC. Even though I am still considered a young coach, I’ve managed to gain a lot of coaching experience working within Community, Schools, Youth Development & Academies within Professional and University Rugby League environments. I have previously worked at the Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos and I’m now back in my second stint at Hull FC as part of the Hull FC Foundation, working as the Schools Partnerships Manager and University of Hull Rugby League Coach.
This is my first year as Head Coach of England Universities Rugby League. Last year I was the Assistant Coach for the team in the Student World Cup 2017 held in Sydney, Australia.
I have been involved in University Rugby League for 6 years now, coaching at University of Bradford (2012-2014), Leeds Trinity University (2015-2017) and University of Hull (2014 & 2017-Present). I have also been lucky enough to have the opportunities to coach within a number of the University Rugby League representative programmes; Yorkshire Universities RL (2013-2017), GB Student Pioneers RL (Morocco Tour 2013, Ghana Tour 2014, Bosnia & Herzegovina Tour 2015, Hungary Tour 2016), North England Students ‘Origin’ RL (2016)".
2. What opportunities can players and the backroom staff benefit from whilst being involved in England University Rugby League?
"Each year, the squad of players that are selected are recognised as some of the best Rugby League players within the student game and experience the chance to represent their country in a sport they love to play, which is a massive honour. They will get the chance to play against Ireland, Scotland & Wales student representative sides in the Four Nations Competition in July and will also play two test matches against New Zealand students at the end of May this year.
Some of the players are part of Championship, League 1 and NCL teams and I think just being around other top players regularly will help everyone to develop their skills and game awareness and could potentially put them in the shop window for these top clubs.
For us as staff, again it’s the opportunity to represent our country, but it’s also the opportunity to work with these players in an elite environment and help progress this squad from a group of individuals and into a team. We only get chance to train together every two-three weeks, so our time together is precious to try and get the most out of the sessions together".
3. How do the logistics work? Is it hard to get University students from across the country to train in different cities?
" Our training base is at Sheffield Hallam University. With the great facilities that they have on offer and it been quite central location wise, it makes a great venue for us.
We have players and staff from all over the country; from Newcastle, Gloucester, St Albans, Hull, Manchester just to name a few, so there is a big commitment from the players and staff to travel and attend each session. But it’s something we discussed right at the start of the programme and it’s something we all bought into."
4. What are your thoughts on your upcoming fixture this Wednesday?
"we play against GB Teachers on Wednesday evening in our second RFL Presidents Cup game. I don’t know what to expect from them, so it’s about us playing to our strengths and adapting as the game unfolds.
We had a pleasing first performance again GB Police two weeks ago and we created a lot of opportunities to score, but there was a lot of giddiness and excitement from the players with the ball, so I’d like to see if we can be a bit more patient and controlled in this game and then take the chances that we can create. Things are shaping up nicely for this young group of players and we are gelling more and more every time we train, so I’m looking forward to just seeing them out there in a match environment again".