Ospreys coaches Steve Tandy, Gruff Rees and Tom Smith have embarked on a two-week trip down under as part of their professional development.
The trio set off on Monday on a trip that will see them spending time with different sporting organisations in the southern hemisphere, meeting with key individuals and getting a special insight into how some of these leading clubs operate.
They head first to New Zealand, Tandy and Rees spending a few days in Napier to spend time with the coaches from Super Rugby outfit, this season’s runaway leaders the Hurricanes, as they prepare for their game against the Highlanders on Friday.
Meanwhile, Tom Smith will travel to Wellington to meet with Mike Anthony, Head of the NZRU player development programme, before joining the coaches in Napier.
Next weekend all three travel to Melbourne, where they will visit another Super Rugby team, the Rebels, along with Melbourne Storm from the NRL and Aussie Rules clubs Western Bulldogs and Essendon.
The trip echoes one taken back in 2008 by Andrew Millward, now Rugby General Manager at the Ospreys, when as an aspiring coach he travelled to New Zealand with Jonathan Humphreys to meet with Super Rugby and All Blacks coaches.
Speaking about this year’s trip, which will see the three travellers all gaining a unique behind the scenes insight into three leading sporting organisations.
“This is a great opportunity for Steve, Gruff and Tom as young coaches to experience different sporting cultures and environments as part of their ongoing professional development," said Millward.
“All three will be travelling with a specific mandate and understanding of what they want to get from the experience. Individually they’ll be looking at specific areas that have been identified for them to focus on, based around the key requirements of their roles within the Ospreys, while collectively they will look at things like cultural and holistic development within a professional sporting business.
“Development from within is at the heart of the Ospreys’ vision and it’s not something that we pay lip service to. We mean it. Throughout the organisation, as we pursue excellence in everything we do, we are always looking at how we can improve, as individuals and as a team. Opportunities like this don’t come along but all three people understand how this trip will benefit them and not only help them to become better people and better coaches, but also, how it can help to improve the environment when they return to the region in two weeks.
“Just as our age-grade and community coaches receive the full support of the business and benefit from opportunities to shadow the senior coaches, our senior coaches themselves also get that support.
“Our coach development pathway is renowned. Steve and Gruff are themselves graduates of that pathway, but they, along with Tom, understand that there is always room for improvement.”