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Rugby Star Coach Pushes Sport for Young Players

April, 2006
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IMG_1781 A young Canadian boy was not the only lucky one the day he received a prize from Eddie Jones, the former Australian national rugby coach who  came to the International School of Beijing (ISB).

  That was a warm Saturday morning on March 4, and many students and parents came earlier to the sports field, waiting anxiously for the rugby star coach.

IMG_1809   During the one-hour training, Jones and the youths played many games. Jones emphasized the importance of communications, asking them to shout out their team-mates’ names when they were passing the ball.

  “The approaches seemed familiar to what we have done before, but having four balls in the field was really hard,” ISB student Dimitri Christidis said after the training session. “He is a big name, so you don’t get him every day.”

  Arnold Lei, another student, also raved about the chance to meet the famous coach. “It is really nice to have Eddie Jones to come here and publicize rugby at the school because rugby right now is overshadowed by basketball or volleyball,” he added.

  Their school coach Paul Brace also believes this was a precious opportunity for the young players. “Eddie also sent a clear message to the students that you need to learn the basics of the game before you move to anything fancy or enjoyable; and how important communications is in rugby,” he said.

  According to Brace, the rugby sport of ISB is still in the development phase, and only available for high school students. About 60 boys and 30 girls are taking regular training on campus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after school during the rugby season.

  Students also have chances to play other school teams or an adult team called Beijing Devils. They can even join some tournaments in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Thailand. IMG_1883

  “The players are still learning, but improving in a drastic way,” Brace said. “They got passion for the sport. We are looking at establishing a middle school program next year.”

  To Jones, the difference between coaching the national team and the school teams is only that school players are young boys and girls. 

  “Their performances were impressive, and the young players really participated well,” Jones said, adding that the best advice is for them to learn the value of patience and practice.

  Jones taught the young players the secrets to help improve their game. “Rugby is a fantastic game because it teaches you a number of skills,” he said. “It teaches you courage through the physical contacts, and probably the most important thing about rugby is that it is a team game, and it relies on everyone in the team doing the job. So firstly you have to know what your role in the team is, then you have the skills to IMG_1908perform that role and you have to communicate to the other people on your side.”

  Since becoming a club coach at the age of 34, Jones has been coaching different teams around the world. The highlight of his career was when he successfully brought the Australian team to the World Cup final in 2003.

  “Coaching the Australian national rugby team was a challenge and also a good experience for me,” he revealed. “Well, to be a good coach, firstly you have to be a good selector and pick the right people to play. Secondly, you should be able to input the knowledge on the field; and thirdly manage the team and keep everyone in good spirits.”

   After playing his first rugby game at the age of 13, Jones strongly believes the best way to introduce rugby to China is to get children to play the sport at an early age and practice their skills while making the game enjoyable.

  “If the kids enjoy the game, they would like to play and play better,” he said.

  “Today I have a prize for a player, a Canadian boy. Probably he is not playing the best, but he was playing very hard. Enjoy rugby!”

 

By Xing Yangjian

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