It’s not every day a World Cup hero coaches a school rugby team but on a wet Wednesday in November, this is exactly what happened at University College School in Hampstead. Ben Youngs, England’s most capped scrum-half, came to UCS last week to deliver two coaching sessions. Ben has played for England since 2010 and was a crucial part of the England team which reached the 2019 World Cup final following a thrilling win over the All Blacks in the semi-finals.
The boys were in disbelief when they were told that one of their heroes from the World Cup campaign in Japan would be taking their Wednesday practise but Ben duly arrived at the Kantor Centre with his kit and boots ready for action. It was cold and wet but the new pitches at the UCS fields were in superb condition and Ben enjoyed delivering two coaching sessions: one for the senior players and one for the junior players. Both included drills and small-sided games. The players enjoyed learning about various tactics from the England stalwart who emphasised the need to “flood the channels” in order to get behind a defence. Ben was impressed by a number of aspects of the sporting setup at UCS. “The players have so much energy,” commented Ben, “and the facilities are significantly better than those we had when I was at school.” The facilities at the Kantor Centre which Ben was using, are brand new and were only opened back in September. Ben’s masterclass was the third in the last 12 months which has been delivered by a rugby star. Earlier in the term, Alex Goode from Saracens delivered a kicking masterclass to members of the 1st XV and 2nd XV and last year, Mike Ford, whose illustrious CV includes being the defence coach of England, worked with the senior rugby players for an afternoon.
The UCS teams will be looking to put Ben’s advice to good use on Saturday when they face Haberdashers’ Aske’s.