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Mexico Grass Roots and General Coaching 2006

Coaches: John McKittricj (North Harbour), Antonio da Cunha (Portugal) and Craig Brown (Penguins)

Following the successful playing and coaching trip to Mexico in 2004, a follow up visit was arranged for March 2006. The purpose of the trip was coaching only, and John McKittrick (former US and Cook Is 7s coach) and Antonio da Cunha (Portugal) joined Craig Brown, the Penguinís Director of Rugby, on the visit to represent the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy. The duration of the trip was 9 days and encompassed a wide range of coaching activities, which involved working with local schools, orphanages and local teams, all based in Mexico City. However, a few keen players did travel from neighbouring cities.

The first session was held at Dos Rios, the Mexican Rugby Federationís home ground, and was attended by approximately 60 children. The children were organised into U15 and U11 groups, and taken through various techniques with the aim of developing these into skills. It was pleasing to note the improvement in all, from the perspective of the whole-part-whole coaching approach. In particular, emphasis was placed on handling and running lines under pressure.

Further school sessions continued during the week at Greengates School, Tomas Moro School, and the American School. In some of the sessions held, all participants were undertaking rugby activities for the first time, including a number of girls. During these sessions the fun element of rugby was promoted to ensure these young people left the session with fond memories of the game, and keen to return. The more senior players (U17) were keen to improve tackling and scrummaging, whilst the younger players concentrated on handling, running and kicking. All sessions progressed to introduce pressure situations to test the techniques learnt in game-like situations.

By special request of the Penguins, a session was arranged at Casa Alianza Orphanage and Care Home in the south of the city. The session lasted for about 2 hours, and included numerous boys and young men who had never been involved with rugby before. The group was split into two groups, one for those with no rugby experience and the other for those who had been playing for the last year or two. The youngsters with some experience were well drill by their coach Raul Monroy (Raul played against the Penguins in 2004, aged 61!), adapted quickly, and absorbed the instructions of the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy coaches. Two 12 year olds, in particular, stood out, and would easily fit into the U13 rugby scene in any leading rugby country. The coaching team found the experience very rewarding and enjoyed a traditional Mexican lunch with the children afterwards. Each participant was presented with a HSBC school kit, and a HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy t-shirt.

The Penguin coaching team met with Sandy Flockhart, CEO of HSBC in Mexico, and other senior banking officials. The meeting afforded the opportunity to meet up informally following our visit in 2004, and to update all present with the Penguinís progress in that time. Sandy was formally thanked for his support for the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academyís tour to Mexico, and his part in the continued development of rugby in Mexico.

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