Former England rugby captain is coaching rugby in Bahrain this month
Okay, the big question – it’s still early days, but how are you finding the Rugby World Cup so far? What about England’s performance? I’m really enjoying the World Cup, and am looking forward to the knock-out stages – anything can happen. What stands out the most for me is how impressive the smaller nations have been. A lot has been written about England’s performance, but at this stage getting the win against Argentina, a passionate team, and building momentum is important. There are a many examples of teams starting brilliantly and then going out in the quarters. There are plenty of teams who could win – New Zealand are favourites, but there is a huge amount of pressure on them. Australia, England and South Africa will be close too.
You played in two World Cups – both times getting through to the final, and you were on the team when England won it. What memories did you take from the experience? It’s the ultimate challenge. To win the World Cup takes a collective effort, not just one person, and you need the whole squad pulling together. It’s important to have a strong link between the management and players. The rewards are high if you become a World Cup winner – it is the ultimate goal for a rugby player.
And now you’re coming to Bahrain – your first visit? I haven’t been to Bahrain before, but it’s great to visit new places and meet people who are excited about rugby. The work I am doing with HSBC should help to raise the profile of the sport there.
So tell us what you will be doing and how long you will be over. Have you worked with HSBC in this capacity before? I am an ambassador for HSBC, and they have linked up with Bahrain Rugby Club to host a big grassroots coaching session. I am over for a short time, but will be doing more work in the Middle East later this year for HSBC. I’ve worked with them before, specifically the Lions Tour in South Africa.
And what will the clinic be concentrating on? We will be working on speed, agility, tackling, passing and diving. HSBC have developed a ‘HSBC Skill zone’ – a coaching tool set up for the Bahrain Rugby Club. My role is to get involved in the sessions, pass on some of my knowledge and really get everyone excited about playing rugby.
Why is it important to host these kind of coaching clinics? The aim of the programme is to create more opportunities for kids to get involved in rugby, and start to build up the sport in the region.
Is coaching and helping people improve their game something that comes natural to you? I have done quite a bit of coaching, so it’s fairly natural to me now and is something I really enjoy. After I retired from international rugby I started getting coaching experience up to Premiership level.
It’s fair to say the Middle East is a developing region when it comes to rugby. How can this be improved? The work I do with HSBC is helping to raise the profile of the sport and drive participation in the Middle East, and will benefit everyone involved.
You only announced your official retirement from the game fairly recently – your Wikipedia page says July 7, 2011. Other players carry on, why was now the time? I retired from international rugby four years ago and it felt like the right time to stop, especially after the World Cup final in 2007. Last year I helped out a local club in the UK and played a few matches.
Your nickname on the pitch was ‘Billy Whizz’ – are you still quick on your feet? I’m not too bad. I reckon I could still catch a few. Jason Robinson takes part in HSBC’s Coaching Clinic at Bahrain Rugby Club on October 14. Call 39 612 043 for info.