Rugby legend Shaun Edwards was one of the guest speakers at Seaford College’s annual sports dinner – and he even had time to take a training session with a group of their rugby players.
Edwards made his name in rugby league playing for Wigan, England and Great Britain. He won eight Challenge Cups and three World Club Championships and was voted Man of Steel in 1990 before switching codes for a hugely-successful coaching career in rugby union.
Ten successful years as head coach at Wasps led to his current role as assistant coach for Wales and defence coach on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa.
Edwards visited Seaford and with England cricketer Anya Shrubsole was a guest speaker at the annual sports dinner. This is an annual fundraising event to raise money for Seaford sport which involved auctions, raffles, games, and Q&As.
It was a fantastic evening, enjoyed by all, but before the evening began, Edwards took a two-hour training session with a group of senior rugby players.
“I’m old enough to remember Shaun playing as a youngster, playing countless Challenge Cup Finals with Wigan,” said Liam Doubler, Seaford’s director of sport. “So it was really great to meet him.”
Edwards wasn’t going to take it easy on the boys, putting them through their paces in an intense training session that tested their fitness, and he gave them real insights to help improve their game.
His teaching had an immediate impact.
“Just to see Shaun, someone who’s coached some of the best players in the world, for the last, probably ten to 15 years, it’s fantastic to see the intensity and passion he brings to the session, and our boys responded massively to that,” said Doubler. “You see the way they were working and responding to Shaun, it was awesome.”
The students found the session tough but highly enjoyable.
Josh Goodwin, one of the first XV players, in Year 13 said: “All the boys really enjoyed it. Shaun brought another intensity to our game, both attack and defence, which is really useful and we can take into next season and this season.”
Alfie Ransom, first XV captain, in Year 13, said: “I think it was brilliant. It’s an honour for the school to have Shaun down here. He showed us some new bits out there, he brought a new intensity to our rugby.
“He showed us how to take our defence and turn it into a way of attacking a team, and to be honest I think for the boys that are lucky enough to be playing here next year, it’s going to take their game on leaps and bounds.”
What else did they take from the session? To Goodwin, some of Edwards’ statements really hit home.
“One of the things that stuck in my mind was his phrase: good players know they’re good players,” he said.
Head boy Nicholas Caines was in awe of Edwards and loved the opportunity to train with someone of his calibre, but he was certainly feeling the effects of the two-hour session later on, as he was one of the students serving tables at the sports dinner that evening.
“Walking around serving tables at the sports dinner was very hard, I could certainly feel it in my legs – we had to try and stop falling asleep,” he said.