Blog: Premiership Rugby Scholars benefit from the Harlequins effect as they learn from Paul Gustard

Being here has been amazing bros. Honestly it makes me home sick! As a New Zealander living in Hawaii, my biggest Ah Ha moments have come off the Rugby field. Everything I believed was typical of home all comes from here, not New Zealand – the breakfast, the food, the countryside…!

That said, it’s reflected in the Rugby too. A New Zealand Rugby environment is an English Rugby environment. It’s been an emotional rollercoasters to come back to the ancesteral home of Rugby!

The Harlequins name! It’s big back home in New Zealand. It’s big back in the US. To have the opportunity to spend the full day in their training environment with their coaches and players – it’s a massive experience. I’m like a kid in a candy store. The high performance environment set buy the coaches.

All these gems of information that are being passed on to us. It’s so clear why the game is so strong here. The standards set by the clubs are so strong so the base of the game is strong.

For Paul Gustard and his team to spend so long with us was incredible! His philosophy is incredible. I’m taking so many little gems away. In football back home it’s all about the coach! These guys are millionaires. You wouldn’t get access to them or the players.

The sport needs to be more like Rugby. They need to eat some humble pie – it should all be about player development – the player, the units, the team! It’s a great reminder how it should be done.

The big learning I’m taking away is to be less rigid – coach what you see – we over complicate things in our own way back home. Yesterday’s session showed us the nuts and bolts of rugby done simple. Learn that the players have a role in coaching themselves, in their groups – let the huddle assess what the problems are.

As a coach set the drills, set the foundation, build the culture and empower the players to find the solutions to what is in front of them.

The players were also incredible. Having a chance to speak to Paul Lasike was a huge honour. His journey from playing Rugby back in New Zealand to playing College Football, then in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, back to Rugby in the US and now Harlequins! What a journey! He’s a legend back in New Zealand and the US and still such a humble guy and a great role model off the pitch – good people make great rugby players!

Blog from Seamus Fitzgerald