Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"He came to watch his sister, and never went home..."

Joe Randall
Head Coach, Letchworth Girls, 2005-2007
Head Coach, England, 20??-20??

But now Joe is leaving us - the second big farewell that the end of season brings.

It as abundantly clear from Joe's first arrival early in our second season that a) he knew what he was talking about, and b) you were all going to listen to him. Those of us who then had you in our charge were therefore more than happy to take a backward step, and then another one, and then another, until we just stood on the touchline and watched.

Granted a licence to do more or less as he wished with a real live rugby team - an opportunity that few schoolboys get - Joe's confidence took flight, and his players with him. It was very clear very soon that Joe had a maturity and coaching knowledge several years in advance of his chronological age - indeed the constant call for us to provide a CRB number which the CRB would not provide because he was not old enough resulted in a continual game of administrative tennis that carried on for over a year. It seems that the powers that be simply had never conceived of a 17 year old being head coach of a rugby team - the possibility had not entered the heads of the scribes who had diligently worked on RFU and RFUW welfare rules. Time eventually provided a solution - ie. Joe turned 18 - otherwise we'd be going around in these endless circles still. Admittedly it could have been worse - at no point did anyone ask about who was looking after the welfare of the coach himself - but frankly he always looked as if he could handle that one himself.

Admiring all the effort Joe put in, both in training and in preparation, I was often given to wonder whether he actually went to school at all, of if he did whether someone else was doing his homework for him. He put hours into it - send him an email at almost any time of night or day and - "ping" - back would come the reply.

But sheer diligence is not enough. Joe knew his stuff - boy did he - and also communicated it brilliantly. Maybe it was the lack of age difference, but I've seen far "better", more "experienced" and better "qualified" coaches make a total hash of coaching girls, because the group psychology of girls sports teams is different. Joe could easily have got it just as wrong by simply repeating the coaching he had received himself - he didn't. He pitched it perfectly from day one. Maybe having sisters helps sometimes.

Joe's abilities were soon recognised beyond the club, and he was accepted into the regional structure (in an unofficial capacity - the CRBlessness not helping with any formal appointment). This saw Joe work not just with his contemporaries, but with his seniors too - the East women's team, a formidable team including several players on the fringes of national selection who Joe assisted all the way to finals day and an eventual third place (but for a tough draw and 10 second of madness against South East it would have been a couple of places better, IMHO!).

And now the awards were coming in, from the RFU and Herts Sports and.. well, who knows what others there may be yet. If the club could not reward the guy financially some of us strove to make damn sure that he would at least end up with a CV that would practically glow in the dark - a task that Joe made very easy. No need to hype his abilities when what he was achieving provided all the hype he could ever need.

And what was that? Well a stack of trophies this season which probably exceeds in number what the rest of the club has achieved put together. And yes - we DO count "Fairplay" trophies as being important, after all what better mark of a good coach could there be? After all with Joe the "good guys" certainly weren't finishing last - this was no sop. When else have you heard of a tournament finalist being also the Fairplay winners?

There is also no question that Letchworth under Joe is greater than the sum of its parts - that on many occasions thoughout the season the team he coached took on - and beat - teams that were and are, on paper, player-for-player, better teams. Westcliff, Dorking, Sudbury (well, in the game that "mattered" anyway!), I E Weldon, "Buckinghamshire" (aka "Milton Keynes"), Liskeard - the list goes on. Joe engendered a team spirit, a never-say-die that meant that heads never dropped, that games were turned round, and that leads, once gained, were never lost. Well, almost never...

But now Joe moves on to... who knows where? In a few years time will it be the Guinness Premiership, or the Super 14s perhaps? Or one of the leading school or representative sides - or maybe a red rose? Who can say - but his career began here and he is leaving behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Rosie's musical farewell...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Going to miss you so much


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