Cambridge Rugby Club bolsters coaching staff with former England center and St George’s School director of rugby

Cambridge director of rugby Richie Williams.

Richie Williams has hailed “two exciting coaching appointments” to bolster Cambridge Rugby Club’s off-field team.

Former England player Anthony Allen and Neil Harris have been appointed as defensive and set-piece coaches respectively as the club seek to build on their fourth-place finish in National League One last season.

“One of the areas we identified in the offseason that we probably wanted to develop to try to give ourselves the best possible chance of finishing higher than the fourth place we had last season was having a little more depth with our coaching,” Cambridge director of rugby Williams said.

“We identified our free kick as an area of ​​strength last season and with the loss of (former forwards coach) Dan Richmond at the end of last season, it was an area we knew we needed to strengthen.

“The second area was that we wanted someone to come and see our defence. Last season, until the last game, we had the best defensive record in National League One, but unfortunately the game against the Rams where we conceded 40 points dropped us to the second-best defensive record in the league, after Caldy who obviously won the league.

“For us, and how we want to play, those are two fundamental areas.”

Allen was a center with Gloucester and Leicester Tigers, making over 210 Premiership appearances during his career, and he earned two caps for England before having to retire early with a knee injury.

He spent a year as a defense coach at Championship club Coventry and recently coached at Loughborough University, with their BUCS and National League sides.

“I know he’s a great coach who draws on a lot of his playing experience,” Williams said.

“He’s played at the top of the game and he’s worked with people like Ben Adams before, when Ben was at Coventry.

“Ben raves about him as a defense coach. I think his style and philosophy lends itself to what we want to try to do as a team.

Harris will focus on the free kick, primarily the scrum.

He is Head of Rugby at St George’s School in Harpenden, a role in which he previously worked with Owen Farrell, George Ford, Maro Itoje and Jack Singleton.

Harris worked with the Saracen Women as forwards coach for three seasons, during which they won back-to-back Premiership titles, and the USA Eagles women’s team, as forwards and kicking coach arrested.

“Neil has a very good track record and what impressed me when I met him a few months ago was his passion for scrum more than anything,” Williams said.

“Looking at this area of ​​our game and the staff we have, we felt there was a good opportunity to get even stronger than where we were last season.”

Williams believes the duo will not only help on the playing side, but also in developing some of the players’ coaching ambitions.

“People like Ben Adams and Gareth Baxter ended up doing a bit of coaching,” he said.

“Ben has been around the defense a bit, Gareth has been leading the line pretty much all season and Lawrence Rayner has been heavily involved in some of the attacking stuff, so I think bringing Neil and Anthony in, they’ll be supporting and coaching. these senior players in their coaching role.

“I think what we’ve created now is a really strong coaching staff that’s going to support the top leadership that we’ve developed over the last two years.”

Williams added: “Those are two exciting nominations for us this season.”