Whitley Bay Rockcliff RFC head coach Jack Lambert has recently completed the RFU Level 3 Coaching Award and the club are already seeing the benefit at pre-season training.
The award takes a year to complete and is a challenging course for coaches looking to develop their ability to lead a successful rugby programme.
It is aimed at coaches leading a club’s rugby provision as a head coach or working in the professional player development pathway, both of which Lambert is currently involved in.
The course involved two weekends away in Leeds and Twickenham as well as continual assessment on game days and training sessions throughout the year.
He said: “Completing the course is a milestone in my career and something I am very proud to have achieved at the age of 26.
“I was fortunate to have a superb course mentor in England U18’s coach and Northumberland RDO Dave Reed.
“He gave me some fantastic advice throughout the year and really helped me develop as a leader.
“The players were also fantastic and have been a pleasure to coach the last year, they even stayed on best behaviour when I was being assessed.
“Completing the course is the end of a year’s work, however, I still have very high targets for myself and the organisations I am involved in, and I will continue striving to improve in my roles with Northumberland County, TyneMet College and Rockcliff.
“I am very fortunate to be working for a club wanting go in the right direction with staff that want to create a learning environment and players that want to develop.
“The club now have an established coaching team with Loren Nardini, leading defence and forwards and Noel Mather, Karl Briggs, Gary Lewis and Bryan Stewart all involved as well.
“It is fantastic having everyone around and each person brings new and different ideas to the sessions which benefit the players.
“I look forward to facing the challenges of the coming season with the club and feel confident we have the structure in place to be successful.”
Players have also been impressed with the development of the club training sessions during the past season.
Club captain Andrew Webster said: “Since the introduction of the new coaching structure at Rockcliff, I have seen a huge difference in the way the club has progressed.
“Training has been gone from having an amateur atmosphere and monotonous drills to sessions that have been fun yet challenge me both mentally and physically.
“The number of players training has increased because of that and we have everyone down competing for a starting place.
“The lads are making a conscious effort to get down early, work hard on the key areas they want to improve and, because of the new structure that is in place, we are developing and moving forward as a team.
“It’s a great honour to be involved as club captain working with the coaching team and more importantly the players.”
Following an intensive two-week conditioning programme, the club will be playing three friendly fixtures over the next few weeks before finishing off August with a County Cup game.
August 9, Seaham, away; August 16, Ryton, home; August 23, Berwick, away; August 30, Novocastrians, away, 1st XV County Cup quarter-final and first competitive game of the season. The club is actively looking for a Viking fixture for this date as well.
Lambert added: “The pre-season fixtures have been carefully designed to build momentum for the whole club ready for the first Durham and Northumberland Division 2 game of the season.
“Both the 1st XV and Vikings will have fixtures, which is a first for the club and really shows the positive direction that the entire senior set up is going.
“We are playing Seaham, who last season were in the run for promotion from the league below, Ryton who won our league last year and Berwick, who beat us in the County Cup.
“We then close out August with a cup quarter-final against Novos from the league above.
“These games will test the players and prepare them for the season ahead and I look forward to seeing how the lads perform on the pitch.”
Other than these dates, there will be training Tuesday and Thursday as always at 6.30pm to 7pm; touch rugby / SAQ / core club and 7pm to 8.30pm training.
New players are welcome - contact the club on (0191) 251 3704 or visit www.rockcliffrfc.co.uk