Mike’s love of Rugby
Our Operations Director, Mike Taylor, has a deep love for rugby, and here he tells his story.
“Having been schooled at Pridwin Prep School in Johannesburg, I first picked up a rugby ball at the age of 12. When my family left South Africa in September 1979, I went on to have a playing career spanning almost 3 decades. At the peak of my game I had a few run outs for Dorset and Wilts at a county level before playing club rugby for Sherborne RFC.”
From Playing to Coaching
“Eventually accumulated wear and tear forced my retirement as an active player at which point it was a natural step for me into coaching rugby.
“Initially, I followed my eldest son who was playing in Taunton Rugby Club, joining as a parent helper. Within a season, I had agreed to take on a new playing cohort, the incoming Under 7s.
“Having taken on an official coaching role, I embarked on the RFU coaching qualifications and CPD program to improve the level of input I could provide. Within a few seasons I accepted a committee role and took on the mantle of Chair of Youth Rugby. During my tenure we had both good and bad times, yet the overall massive positive outcome was that we grew the youth section of the club to over 500 active players, training and playing weekly across ages from 6 to 18.
“In the last few years I have stepped back and passed the mantle to others who now ably manage the provision of youth rugby within Taunton RFC.”
“The pathway within Taunton Rugby Club is for coaches to move through the junior rugby age groups with the same group of players. The benefit is that it allows the coaches and players to develop together as they gain experience of the game. It also mean there’s the opportunity to introduce new elements for both as the game in the UK changes between ages as players move towards the senior game.
“At the start of the pathway, coaching is best described as “Herding cats” since it consists mainly of trying to persuade a bunch of children to do more than simply follow the ball in a group wherever it moves on the pitch. By the time you reach the end you are fine tuning a well oiled machine in which the constituent parts all know their roles and all work together for the good of the team.
Coaching to National Honours and the World Cup
“Due to my role across the youth rugby section of the club, I regularly filled in for periods where we didn’t have volunteer coaches available for all age groups. As a result of my association with multiple age groups across the club during this time, I have coached 4 players who have gone on to achieve national honours for England at Under 18 and Under 20 age groups, One of which who was part of the England under 20 side who won the World Cup at the previous tournament.
“As regards my own group of players, they have in the last season advanced beyond the youth section of the club into the colts which provides the bridge between youth and senior rugby. In our time together, we have contributed to over 50% of the Somerset county age grade side in the last three years and 4 players from this group have advanced to elite academies linked to the premiership sides in Exeter and Bath and 1 player who has gone on to be selected at Under 18 at National level. In their last game together as a complete group the squad played in and won the National Under 17s Bowl final at the premiership home ground of Worcester Warriors.
Fine young adults
“Youth rugby coaching at a club level is an entirely voluntary act and is rewarded by being part of the development of children into fine young adults.”
Like a challenge?
The youth section of Taunton Rugby Club is constantly on the look out for opportunities to forge new links in rugby. Youth rugby sides range from Under 6 to Under 18s. The club is very interested to make contact with any schools or clubs who are interested in arranging a rugby exchange.