SOUTH CHINA TIGERS - PART 1 COACHING GROUP

South China Tigers began their maiden campaign in the Season Opener of the 2020 Global Rapid Rugby competition. Although the tournament has now been suspended, we take a look at the coaching set up and the guys who keep the great Tigers machine in shape.

The 2019 showcase introduced spectators and viewers to a Rugby format that pushed the boundaries of the players fitness and skills and brought home to many of the Hong Kong side the stark realities of playing in a fully professional environment, with a set of rules designed to be cruel to their individual cardiovascular systems.

And so with less than a year to dial things in, the South China Tigers coaching staff moved their group to the starting line.

Under the steady eye of Head Coach Craig Hammond, the Tigers will be in fine fettle when the whistle blows once again. Hammond arrived in Hong Kong of the back an eleven year stint for Nottingham, where he was asked to Captain the side on 227 occasions. The Upper Hutt native from New Zealand knows every colour of the Rugby rainbow, from the obscure battles against All Blacks and Hurricanes for the Jubilee Cup, or ‘Hard-Up’ Cup if the teamed missed the cut after the first round, to the weekly bus and grind of the English Championship, now his Rugby odyssey brings him half-way between two homes, to a place he’s crafted out an invaluable contribution to Hong Kong Rugby.

Pro-ball is routine, it’s detail work and it takes more than a level of honesty, it takes a strange curiosity, a nagging voice to ask those around you, ‘how do I get more out of myself?’ Afterall, and to use a typically pragmatic Kiwi term - You don’t know, what you don’t know.

The difference between those that play through pain and endless fatigue, and those who did not, is how they go about finding out what they don’t know.

The environment must be ideal, the measurement must be accurate, the feedback immediate but not fleeting, curiosity is the key - not anxiety. The latter would see players bore down on the solvable and plummet mentally until the only solution was to simply stop.

The arrival of Jack Wiggins also puts in place a sense that the coaching staff are eager to drive this group of players out of their comfort zones early, with no intention of them every returning. Wiggins shrewdness is something to behold, twice he was able unlock the confidence of Valley through dominating the yard past the ball at the breakdown, the resulting picture too difficult to understand deep in the heat of finals Rugby. Team Manager Andrew Hall emanates an environment that a backroom staff, most of whom are in a particular phase of their craft, can fail, but not look to fall apart, the likes of Hocking, Wilkinson and Sneddon are inherently competitive and all possess tremendous qualities as coaches, terrific characters that have left the boots to hang, but know well that one can never, stop asking the question…What is it, that I don’t know?

Enter Marc Carter, the Welsh Data Analyst, who provides the mechanism and the method, to measure the location of the players’ distance from their best form or worst nightmare. Mistakenly many think a ‘campaign is only endured by the players’, it’s not, it’s every single person pushing hard until the end of the tournament…and even then, when the eyes of all involved open slowly that internal voice will still be asking that part of their consciousness - What is it? That I don’t know.

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