Amy Turner is excited to connect with “lots of ambitious professionals” whose goal is to “learn and grow to deliver a better product for the game” at the women’s Six Nations U18 Festival coaching conference.
Coaches and match officials from across England and the six competing countries will assemble at Wellington College in Berkshire, England on Friday for the start of the two-day conference.
Participants will hear from a number of speakers, including Harlequins Women head coach Turner, Professor Camilla Knight, England Rugby Centre of Excellence Lead, Emily Mumford and England Rugby U18 Women’s Pathway Strength and Conditioning coach, Emily Pratt.
The conference is designed to share best practice among those working in women’s pathways in England and the Six Nations, to help ensure that school-aged girls are able to enjoy the game in a fun and safe environment.
“The quality of coaches at community, at pathway or at selective level will have a huge impact on your overall system quality, engagement of experience,” England Rugby Head of Performance Pathways and Programmes, Don Barrell said.
Turner, who won 58 caps for the Red Roses and is a former England women’s U20 coach and Rugby World Cup 2021 Coaching Internship Programme alumni, cannot wait to share her own experiences with those in attendance.
Asked why the conference was important to her, she replied: “[Spending] a couple of days with lots of ambitious professionals trying to learn and grow to deliver a better product in the game, I think that is massive and I take great pride in that.
“So, for me to be able to deliver to a group of coaches and backroom staff means a lot. Getting it right, giving them a platform to ask me some questions around my philosophies and how I deliver certain elements of the game I think is key for best practice for the national game.”
Helping to close the gap
Turner is grateful for the chances she has been given by England, Harlequins and on the RWC 2021 Coaching Internship Programme, and is hopeful she can help participants in Berkshire take the next step in their own careers.
“I'm in the position I am because I've been given opportunities and I've taken opportunities and have worked hard to do so,” she added.
“If I can be that key to an individual who's working really hard, seeking opportunity, wanting to learn, if I can give something back to the individual that helps them close the gap on their knowledge or close the gap on applying for that job, male or female, I think is, for me, really what it's all about.”
According to Barrell, staging the conference during this year’s women’s Six Nations U18 Festival, with its second day coming to an end as match-day three gets underway, is a “really unique touch”.
“The nice thing about this is that it lands a coach development conference bang in the middle of what is a really important, unique developmental festival,” he said.
“It's put what would typically be a theory-based conference right in the middle of something that's quite practice-heavy, which is great and a really unique touch.
“I think the other thing it does is... it's just for practitioners who are working and engaged in the women's pathway.
“So, for us it does two things. One, is it gets grouped together and helps the participants build a really good peer network, [to] get around and share practice.
“And I think the second thing is, it allows us to get into some of the nuance. What we're trying to be really clear on is, where is coaching, coaching? So, where is it pedagogy and understanding and good practice?
“And then, where is the nuance? So, where do we need to be different around working with adolescent females? Where do we need to just kind of create different bits of understanding.
“So, the people presenting the information that we're capturing throughout this festival are going to go on to help us sharpen that offer going forward.”
(Photo credit: Robbie Stephenson/JMP)