COVENTRY UNIVERSITY’S Rugby League team has just bagged one of the best up and coming coaches around, Alan Robinson. Alan, a former student of the University studied Graphic Design whilst playing rugby union and then rugby league. He has recently become the regional development officer of the west midlands for rugby league after having a successful career in the game. Writes Alice Pugh
The University’s new coach has created huge interest with over 50 students at the first training session: “it’s been rare even in the Coventry city team to have that many players turn up, so that’s been a big challenge for me”
Alan’s rugby career skyrocketed after playing for the university. Within months of playing rugby league he was picked up to play for Fuller International on St Patrick’s Day. By 1997 Alan had become captain of Great Britain’s Student team.
Alan Robinson’s world win career started in Coventry and it has taken him to many places and many teams but he has always been drawn to the City. In 1998 Alan came back to the University with much support and was able to complete his degree. Having graduated that Summer Alan also formed the ‘Coventry Bears’ Rugby League team with a group of other students.
The Bears 10 year anniversary is this year, Alan spoke about the secret to their success: “I’m not afraid to say we’re one of the most successful amateur clubs in the country and no one can deny that. We’ve basically won every major title at that level. We’ve also got a full junior set up women’s and two men’s teams”
He added: “When I was at university we were at a really high level and very successful, so I wanted to get the team back to that level, playing at a really high competitive level within University Rugby League”
Alan doesn’t seem phased by the challenge, and seems to be wasting no time, as he spoke of his expectations for the team in the future: “The guys know the level they’re at, we‘ve got a lot of new freshers hopefully we can build people from the bottom up. I’m dedicated to these guys hopefully progressing further and over the next two seasons we can be really successful in the midlands”
Looking at the bigger picture he also seemed very hopeful of the team in the next three to four years achieving super 8 Status and to compete with the top university teams. He is helping coach the Women’s rugby union team and has formed them as a rugby league team. Alan is also working on increasing scholarships within rugby league at the university.
Rugby League is a growing sport, as it has become one of the top 16 priority sports in schools. It is beginning to look at the development at an international level with the RFL (Rugby Football League) having received 29 million over the next few years to develop the sport.
Alan spoke passionately about this growth and the opportunities it can give: “There is a Massive summer competition where all teams compete from all over Britain with over 150 teams; rugby league is growing vastly as a development sport across the nation. At the moment there is a Euro Nations cup at professional level, there is the four nations. Rugby league really wants to be recognised as an international sport”
He added: “The pathways for student rugby league are unbelievable. I have gone from being a normal club rugby player at school level to a full international rugby league player, which is all down to the student game. I would highly recommend people get involved.”
“I welcome anyone from the university to come along have a session then sign up if they enjoy it.” The team plays every Monday night at local AG7 community centre and Friday night at priory sports hall. “We have guys here who have never played rugby, it’s all about participation at this level, and if players want to go on at a higher level the pathways are there”
By Alice Pugh