Written by Keith Whitelock
Photo by Poland Rugby League
How high quality rugby league coaching is now accessible anywhere in world
One of the biggest issues rugby league has faced since its creation is how centralised the sport it. Being played and followed in only a select few areas of the world such as the eastern states of Australia, Auckland and the north of England has created an awareness issue. The advent of the internet of things has helped to partially solve this awareness issue. People can now YouTube rugby league videos from anywhere in the world, not to mention live streaming matches.
What happens when new fans of the game want to actually start playing the game though? Access to high quality coaching and administration has stunted the progress of developing areas ever since rugby league went beyond a group of a select few countries. This is where virtual rugby league coaching comes in.
Current Poland head coach, Lee Addison, spoke with Everything Rugby League about the boundless possibilities of virtual rugby league coaching website rugbyleaguecoach.com.au and how it solved the issue of Polish players living all over the world. For those who don’t know, Poland was one of the success stories of the 2018 Rugby League Emerging Nations World Cup (ENWC).
“I cannot emphasise the role Rugby League Coach played enough! We had players in NSW, QLD, USA, Spain, UK and Poland to reach so I made a “Poland RL” page and included all the fitness and weights I wanted them to do prior to the tournament so they arrived fit and strong. I also added some game plan and tactical videos I wanted them to learn. Players also shared video messages on there”.
Non-Australian based players were allowed to arrive in Sydney the weekend before the tournament started. Amazingly, the players only met each other 30 minutes before a warm up game against Hungary. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, every player was instructed to use Rugby League Coach to learn the game plans and strength and conditioning routines. This enabled all the players to be on the same page when they finally took the field together.
Poland won their first ever silverware in this tournament, defeating the Philippines 14-10 in the final of the “trophy” category, effectively placing them 5th. All of the Poland RL coaching videos are now available on the website along with a “fly on the wall” type series documenting the teams path to ENWC success.
The potential of virtual rugby league coaching is endless. Lee and Rugby League Coach have been helping to boost the standard of rugby league in Cameroon lately.
“I am in constant contact with Paul Youmbi over there (Cameroon). He’s become a great friend and I’ve only ever met him through my iPhone! I am a massive expansionist and I want to use this site to spread the game. I make no effort to hide that. One of our social media campaigns has been #wewantmore #wewantitnow in regards to International RL”.
At least three other non-traditional rugby league playing countries have also contact Rugby League Coach for assistance boosting their standard of rugby league. Unfortunately Lee is not in a position to name these countries at this stage in time but is confident Rugby League Coach can significantly boost how the sport is run in these rugby league outposts.
The site has four main categories along with the Poland section. These categories are Coach, Player, Strength & Conditioning (S&C) Coach and Administrator.
Rugby League Coach is a paid for product. This is completely reasonable though given the work and expertise going into its development. Lee is conscious of the market the product is operating in though. “I wanted to make the prices very, very affordable for any budget. We are a working class game and I don’t want anybody to be priced out. Subscribers can pay either monthly or yearly and there are big discounts for yearly memberships. For full access to all areas on the site its $149 a year or $15 a month. For Players and S&C Coaches its $59 a year or $7 a month. For Coaches its $99 a year or $10.50 a month. For the Poland RL section it’s a one off payment of $25 for a lifetime membership. The Administrator section is free and has some sneak peeks at what else is on the site”. The site does not have any lock in contracts so customers are free to pop in and out of membership, pending their needs.
Currently, the site primarily relies on Lee’s 26 years of experience in rugby league, having had coaching involvement with USA Tomahawks, Poland, England Lionhearts, Ireland and NRL clubs Penrith Panthers and Manly Sea Eagles.
The plans for the future are to have many more experts contributing to a wide perspective on rugby league. “I hope to be able to have an NRL coach who is between jobs on the site very soon delivering drills that will be filmed and provided to our members. I’m just waiting for him to confirm a date with me and I’m actually due to meet him in Sydney next week to chat about it! I had Shaun Wane (the current Super League Champion coach) lined up on my last visit to UK recently but we had to re-arrange” says Lee.
The concept of a wide array of professional rugby league coaches and experts sharing their knowledge has the potential to lift the standard of the sport all around the work.
Individuals, wherever they are in the world can obtain personalised feedback on how to take their game to the next level. “Any players reading this, become a member and send me your game footage and I can review your game and coach you remotely. Any coaches reading this, send me your training footage or game footage and I can give you feedback and mentor you. I can even do analysis on your opposition for you if you like and give game plans to beat them! I am already talking to members about sending me footage of games and training sessions that I give them feedback from or edit and place on the site as a resource for other members” says Lee.
The “virtual rugby league club” that Rugby League Coach is also consists of an in house Strength & Conditioning Coach (John Dore), a Nutritionist (Taylor Prowse-Cooper) two Sports Scientists (James Nightingale and Morgan Roberts) a Recovery Expert (Troy Lowrey) and three Cameramen (Josh Acevedo, Ky Lowrey and Chris Adasko).
Rugby league is a sport often maligned for failing to keep up with current trends and sometimes being a step behind with technological innovations. Rugby League Coach fills a clear gap in the market created by the centralisation of rugby league. Anyone with access to the internet now has access to first class rugby league mentorship. The concept of virtual coaching is an exciting one. Let’s see if Cameroon progress throughout the Middle East/Africa rankings on the back on this.
*Rugby League Coach can be seen at rugbyleaguecoach.com.au