My 6th year with Brookline High School and 3rd season as head coach of rugby brought about some pretty amazing challenges. The season in terms of wins and losses was a tough one, but there is so much to carry forward from this and I certainly do not look at it as if it was a lost or failed season. Like I've said, if all I cared about was wins and losses, I'm probably not a very good coach for these kids.
Just let them play- With the previous season being canceled, it was a big thing for the kids to just step on the pitch with a ball again. Everything after that for them was a bonus, any win, any score, any successful pass or run they made was just extra. Also, within reason, I stopped worrying so much about the system we may or may not run and just let the kids play, to start, then adjusted. Worked pretty well, so I’ll remember to let the shackles off a bit earlier next time.
Environment is everything- The chemistry and team environment the kids had this year was awesome. The girls team had their inaugural season this year and they brought so much energy and positivity to the table. I will say the boys reciprocated it right back, which brought the two teams together to make it a club. I could not have planned this any better myself. As I stated, in terms of wins and losses, this was not an amazing season, but the environment created here was something I hope I can replicated many times over the coming seasons.
Bring in help you trust- As the head coach I’ve had 3 different assistants in 3 seasons, less than ideal. This season, fingers crossed though, we will likely have the same person returning to help. I’ve put my trust in the previous two assistants, what choice do I have after all? This year in particular though, I never batted an eye when it came to the decision he made for the portions of the team he was in charge of. Heck, at some point, it felt like we had ESP because we’d be thinking the same thing often and didn’t need to say much to each other in many aspects.
Adapt or sink- The rules and regulations were super fluid this year, I know that might come as a shock to you that have been following this COVID pandemic thing. With the constant changes and being told we were OK to do one thing, being told to reverse direction and then reverse direction again, it made heads spin. The kids adapted really well though, every time something changed, they worked hard to get adjusted quickly. One match we didn’t know if we were playing against a team’s full XV or playing a reduced squad match of 10 on 10, they adjusted and performed well just the same. From every season out, my head will remain firmly on a swivel and be prepared to make adjustments, hope for the base case scenario and expect/be prepared for the worst.
I always learn something from these young people, they'll always keep me guessing and on my toes, but that surely will never make it boring. Thanks for reading everyone, have yourself a day!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS