The development pathway for players and coaches is a key to the success at Heriot’s Rugby Club and the reason new Blues Men 2nd XV Forward Coach Craig Robertson returned to Goldenacre.
The former Heriot’s player joins the Blues Men 2nd XV coaching team of Head Coach Bob McKillop, Backs Coach Mike Goldie and Team Manager Chris Rennie.
Craig has been heavily involved in youth rugby for several years with Melrose Rugby Football Club, assisting in the development of emerging talent, including players who have earned Scotland representative honours.
‘‘Heriot’s is a great set up, one of the best in Scotland. I want to learn and who better to learn from than those that have won championships,’’ he said.
‘‘There are massive benefits as a coach but even more as a player with the 2nd XV, 1st XV and Super6 teams. For young, ambitious players there are a huge range of opportunities at Goldenacre.’’
Bob, Mike and Craig form part of a wider coaching group at the club, overseen by Director of Coaching Phil Smith.
Bob, who counts coaching Scotland U19, Scotland U20 and Scotland Club International among his achievements, praises the experience and ideas of the wider coaching team, who are keen to continually develop, to see players and the club progress.
‘‘Craig will be a great addition to the coaching group – I will do my best to help him where I can, but I am not expecting that to be one way and I am sure I will learn from him too,’’ he said.
The strong development pathway is successful because it is part of the Heriot’s Rugby Club culture with the competition for places a positive for all players, according to Bob.
‘‘As a Blues Men 2nd XV coach, I cannot be selfish about the best talent and try to retain it for the sake of trying to win a league – that’s not what coaching is about,’’ he said.
‘‘Similarly, I know the Blues Men 1st XV coaches would love to provide a conveyor belt of talent to their Super6 franchise, and onwards to the full-time professional game.’’
Mike moved to coaching the Blues Men 2nd XV in 2015, retiring after a decade playing in the backline for Heriot’s. He credits his development as a coach in part to learning from the experiences of the wider coaching team, some who are also professional sports coaches.
‘‘The way the club likes to operate is new players will be blooded in the 2nd XV. There is a lot of communication between coaches about players in the wider squad,’’ he said.
‘‘Last season we had quite a few players from the 2nd XV team go and play for the 1st XV and that is down to the way we train as a squad. The guys are mixed in playing at the same level.’’
‘‘I think both on and off the field, it is a great club to be involved in. Each year we are competing to win trophies, to win leagues. The social scene is really good, all teams are integrated.’’