Four of the Cornish Pirates’ top brass will leave for New Zealand on a fact-finding mission on Sunday.
Coaches Gavin Cattle and Alan Paver, club captain Chris Morgan and general manager Tom Magill have a two-week trip which has been organised by the Cornish Pirates in liaison with director Colin Groves, who is also chairman on the Waikato Province.
Colin said: “From my perspective the four are going to spend two weeks day-in-day immersed in a total rugby culture, spending half their time with Waikato Rugby and half with the Chiefs Super Rugby team.
They will observe how our organisations work and operate, besides getting to see both the Chiefs versus Sunwolves match, to be played at the Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, and the Chiefs versus Queensland Reds contest at the Yarrow Stadium, Plymouth, Taranaki.”
Waikato Rugby is responsible for 32 clubs and 11,000 players in the Waikato, so has similarities with the Cornwall RFU. There is also a professional team, the Waikato Mooloos, who play in the New Zealand Provincial Championship. As for the Chiefs, the team represents six provinces, namely Waikato, Taranaki, Counties Manakau, Bay of Plenty, King Country and Thames Valley. Waikato is the biggest province but the term ‘Chiefs Country’ describes all six together.
The Waikato River is New Zealand‘s longest river, and it is also of interest known as the river of 1,000 Taniwha, which is very sacred to the Maoris. A Taniwha is a monster that in Maori mythology lives in deep pools in the river.
Adding intrigue, the words ‘He Piko, He Taniwha’ appears on the collar of the Chiefs shirts. ‘Piko’ means bend, and the inference is that that there is a Taniwha on every bend in the river, with it thus easy to surmise that ‘He Piko, He Taniwha’ signifies the Chiefs brutal defence.
Speaking on behalf of Gavin, Chris and himself, Alan said: “Our continual CPD (Coach Professional Development) is an absolute must if we are to strive to move the playing and coaching environment forward, so one of the things we can do is get out there and touch base with an elite environment, plus those which share similar difficulties in terms of developing players and player turnover.
"Spending time, shared between Waikato including visiting some of the province’s clubs, and the Chiefs, will give us that full range of experience we want.
“It will be two weeks when we are going to immerse ourselves in not only their culture, but also in the way they organise their rugby. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of contact time with their coaches, to share experiences with an aim to then come back having gleaned a lot of information to try and use in our own environment.”
“We are extremely grateful for this opportunity, with a big thank-you to Director Martin Hudson for organising and taking care of the flights. It will be a second year running for Gavin and I, last year we spent time with Chris Stirling at the Hurricanes. On our return from that visit we grew massively as a coaching unit and we very quickly implemented some of that onto the pitch.
"With Chris (Morgan) joining us to gain insight this year, we are hoping for more of the same going forward, learning from teams in the Waikato Province and also at the sharp end of the stick Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs.”
As for Tom, the main purpose of his visit will be to see how a larger stadium organisation with multiple business streams operates, including catering for crowds of 25,000 plus. He will be able to witness the way Waikato and the Chiefs organise and administrates, as they are both very strong in the areas of Commercial, Sales and Marketing.
Tom advised: “Colin has organised a busy schedule which will begin at the Waikato Stadium with a meeting of all the staff and players, then total immersion in the New Zealand Rugby culture. We are all very excited by the opportunity this trip offers and are looking forward to making the most of the experience.”
Club captain Chris feels that the trip is a chance of a lifetime, saying: “We are also extremely grateful to Dallas Fisher the Chairman of the Chiefs for making all of this possible. I see it as the chance of a lifetime, as I am sure we all do, and we need to grab it with both hands.”
The four are scheduled to return home on May 10.