In the second of our features looking at Aireborough RUFC, we caught up with Head Coach Matt Trevithick, to discuss own rugby highlights and his plans for the Yorkshire club.
Take The Three: Hi Matt, you played to a very high level so what was the highlight of your own playing career?
Matt Trevithick: My playing highlight is a hard one but training week in week out with Brian Lima or Daryl Gibson is up there. My first A league match against the Tigers at Welford Road was also good. But playing for Cornwall 18s against Middlesex in the County Cup semi at home before the Cornwall senior side did still sticks in the memory. There were over 12,000 supporters in the ground at Redruth and to score in front of the crowd in Hellfire corner was very special.
TTT: How did you transition into coaching?
MT: The transition was perhaps fairly natural to me. As a player I worked harder than most to make up for my lack of talent. The one thing I could do was read the game well and quicker than most, which obviously lends itself well to coaching.
So, I stepped into coaching U19s/20s straight away as I was doing this whilst playing and it had been the time in rugby I’d enjoyed the most. Then after a shoulder reconstruction I was able to start doing a few badges as well.
TTT: Talk us through your coaching career to date.
MT: I started at a local club in Devon with their under 12s, ladies and their colts team before being asked to help with the seniors as a backs coach for a while. I did a stint in the north island of New Zealand with development ages, which This then lead me to spending three years in development and coaching at Leicester Tigers. While I was there I coached a couple of senior sides as an assistant and then moved into coaching league. I coached league at regional age group area whilst working for the RFL before moving to the RFU, where my main remit was coaching and developing seven senior clubs in Yorkshire.
TTT: How did the first couple of seasons go with Aireborough and did you have a long-term plan in place when you joined the club?
MT: In all honesty I found the first season and a half very difficult at Aireborough. I was brought up believing that you should be the best you can be in everything you do. I played that way and f I needed to train three times a day to cover all bases I would.
I’ve always believed success is built on a culture and a work ethic and perhaps I expected too much too soon but it took some time to get this across to the boys. So I’ve definitely developed within myself over the same period on how to understand not everyone is built the same.
As for a plan, I came in looking to create a promotion challenging side within three years and we are just about on track. As of year four we will as a club have junior colts for the first time, so it means there has to be a real focus on coaching for the club to make sure we get those lads ready for senior rugby whilst still enjoying the game.
TTT: What was the feeling like across the squad at the beginning of the 15/16 season?
MT: The beginning of the 15/16 season was interesting. Aireborough is a traditional club that looks after its own but there was a sense that to keep moving forward things would need to develop and progress. In my first season I went about seeing what I was working with and there was some real talent but no depth. So we needed fresh faces and energy and I felt a new leader.
Lots of changes are not always to everyone’s liking but luckily some key players at the club bought into the processes, culture and patterns I wanted us to become known for. So we started on the journey to get to where we are now.
TTT: On the subject of a new leader, we understand you appointed a new club captain this season. How has this helped bring the squad together?
MT: The new captain is an interesting one again. I believe in the Australian approach of 3-4 senior players ruling the roost but I needed someone to lead that up. Rich [Lister] came from another club, so was always going to upset some, but I chose him because I felt it was for the greater good. And he proved me right. He just gets it. A bright guy who genuinely loves the game. Full of energy and perhaps more importantly has a good rugby brain and is prepared to listen and learn. The new lads loved him and he won round the older club members with his shear desire to make Aireborough a better club.TTT: Any new systems put in place to accommodate the new squad or was it a case of ‘it ain’t broke so don’t fix it’?
MT: I work off a very simple structure. It’s a very West Country approach and I guess the modern Argentina (last 18mths) are another good example. But you can’t do this over night. We attempt to introduce three new things each season. In my head we are now half way. Six down with six to go. There will be difficulties along the way but the lads are more than able to get there.
I aim to always be moving forward and once these key principles are in place we will be a seriously good side.
TTT: Were you getting nervous at Christmas time when the season was looking a little bleak?
MT: No I didn’t get nervous. In fact at Christmas I bet someone at the club a few pounds we’d finish in the top five. Bar a few results like Northallerton at home (a narrow 10-12 loss) when we didn’t turn up, Goole away – when we blew them away in the first half then switched off at half time – and having half a team missing against Leeds Medics away, we wouldn’t have been far off.
TTT: What was the catalyst for Aireborough’s turn-around? Was there a specific moment or did one win lead to another, etc?
MT: The fixture against Stocksbridge at home (a 48-3 victory) was the turning point. We’d been playing well up until then without it really clicking but the boys began to believe after that. We’d have beaten most Yorkshire Two teams that day and that is what we should be aiming towards moving forward with this young squad.
TTT: Goals for 16/17? Realistic chance of promotion or will it take another season to perhaps bed in?
MT: For the upcoming season top three 3 should be well within us and that will put us there or thereabouts for promotion contention. I’d also love a Silver Cup run. One of the joys of rugby is away days. I love a good cup run with some big fixtures along the way.
Photo credit: Andrew Wood.
New players and volunteers are always welcome at Aireborough RUFC. For more information about how to get involved, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit pitchero.com/clubs/aireborough.