Holt rugby club coach gets tips from England coach Stuart Lancaster
Joint coach Penny Chapman has received some tips from the very top as she attempts to help Holt over the finishing line in their race for a second successive promotion.
With the Owls standing an impressive 17 points clear of third placed Norwich going into Saturday's trip to closest rivals Harlow they now need just four more maximum hauls from their seven remaining fixtures to guarantee a place in London 2NE next season.
With their rivals likely to drop one or two points along the way, the tally required to go up is likely to be a good deal lower than that – and Chapman knows that a positive result at the weekend – weather permitting of course – will make the in-form leaders extremely difficult to catch.
As she prepares for the rearranged match Chapman has been inspired by attending a coaching seminar held by none other than new interim England chief Stuart Lancaster, who addressed a group of regional coaches before masterminding his side's battling 13-6 victory over Scotland in their opening RBS 6 Nations Championship clash.
The Holt coach, who has a full-time role of a development officer for the Eastern Counties, was mightily impressed by what the new man had to say – and feels his rugby philosophy can be applied to all levels of the game.
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'Stuart takes the sort of holistic approach that Ed (fellow joint coach Ed Steed) and I have always tried to follow here at Holt,' she said. 'It's not only about how you play the game, it's about how you prepare, the way you conduct yourself both on and off the pitch, your pride in wearing the jersey and the spirit within the team, all those sorts of things.
'That has worked for us here and we are now reaping the benefits. There was a little example last week when we couldn't train because the ground was too hard but everyone still turned up and we did some gym work inside. The attitude of the players is spot on.'
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The spirit in the camp was also demonstrated by the manner in which Holt bounced back from their first defeat of the season to record back-to-back-wins, following up a hard-fought success at near neighbours Wymondham with a home victory over Sudbury.
If they can maintain that sort of form the Owls will be celebrating sooner rather than later – and Chapman, while taking absolutely nothing for granted, is anxious to get the job done as soon as possible.
'This is not being arrogant but I genuinely feel we are the best team in this division and deserve to go up and I would like to get over the line as quickly as possible,' she said. 'If we can get there early then it will be provide the opportunity to give some of our promising youngsters a game or two in the first team during the final weeks of the season. Giving youth a chance is a big part of what we are trying to do here.
'But of course we need to pick up some more points first. Hopefully Saturday's game with Harlow will go ahead as planned and we can take a big step towards what we are trying to achieve down there.'
Meanwhile Chapman is hoping England's interim coach gets the chance to do the job on a full-time basis.
'I was very impressed with what he had to say,' she said. 'He comes from a teaching background, which I always think helps with coaching, but most importantly of all I think it's great that England have finally got a qualified coach in charge. It was a great start for him on Saturday and I really hope he gets the job.'