Sam Vesty has been with Worcester as a coach since July this year, having finished his playing career at Bath last season. He says he is really enjoying “not running around getting dirty”, although it has been a tough first six months with the club rooted firmly to the bottom of the Aviva Premiership.
“Morale is as good as can be expected,” he admits, but feels that although the season has not gone as planned to date, they are going to attack the LV=Cup.
“The boys have been in games and put together some good stuff at times. Things can turn around very quickly, and winning can become a habit too. We have just not been playing the crunch times as well as others, and have lost games in short periods. We need to put 80 minutes together which we just have not been able to do so far.”
The LV=Cup sees the Sixways club up against Cardiff (A), Leicester (H), Sale (A) and Exeter (H), so there are no easy games ahead. Blooding youngsters is often what this tournament is about, and that opportunity is not lost on the man whose job title reads Academy Transition Manager.
“This is certainly a tournament that can act as a springboard to turn the season around. We can get some of the younger guys involved and we will play positively.”
Vesty’s role is to ensure that those players on the verge of the first team squad from the academy are ready to make the step forward.
“I’m really enjoying it, and have found it very rewarding to work with some good kids,” he says. “One of the biggest challenges is the physical side of things, and strength and conditioning are vital, and something we are always looking to improve.”
How does it compare with when he was making his way in the Leicester academy in the early 2000s? “Rugby is now a sport played by really big athletes,” he admits, showing how much it has changed in a relatively short space of time.
And the academy boys both at Worcester and across the UK?
“The skill levels are now very high across the board, and the academy system provides a good pathway for talented 18, 19 and 20 year olds. Contact time with coaches is increasing and they are getting a better level of coaching at a younger age, with is obviously good for the club and international game. Not that it was at all amateur when I was coming through at the Tigers!”
Concussions and head injuries have been very much in the wider sporting press this week. “Having had a few concussions myself,” says Vesty, “it is always a worry for me. The conversation people are having though now is great, and the most important thing is to be sensible. The players have to be honest (which is difficult) and the doctors have to have the power to make decisions.”
By Chris Francis (@mckrisp)
Be part of the rugby family at the LV= Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on March 16th. Tickets now available www.ticketmaster.co.uk