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Article by Craig Brown and Howard Graham


The Penguins travelled to Montevideo for their first visit to Uruguay since 1995, and it was the first visit for the HSBC Penguin Coaching Academy. Through the offices of Sven Gloor from HSBC in London and Carlos Saccone-Deambrosis from HSBC in Montevideo a coaching program was arrange for local clubs and also included visits to help schools in disadvantaged areas advance their rugby programs. Particular facets of the program included details on how professional clubs are operating and evolving. 

The Penguins assembled a great coaching team with Howard Graham from England (former Harlequins Academy Head Coach), Andrew Kyriacou from England (former Cardiff Blues and Russia forwards coach), Pedro Netto Fernandes from Portugal (Portuguese Rugby Union coach), Brett Semmons (International Academy Manager, Auckland Rugby Union – develops elite players and coaches) and Shane King (Talent ID and Player Development manager Blues Super Rugby) all making the trip. 


The HSBC Penguins undertook the following activities 

  • Q&A evening on careers, insights to pro-rugby and amateur rugby in New Zealand, Portugal and England, along with a few rugby anecdotes, attended by nearly 100 coaches, fans and players from across Uruguay. 

  • Coaching sessions with local club side PGG at Stade Galois Field. Activities covered the 1st XV plus U15, U17 and U19 teams. 

  • Jovenes Fuertes community school visit. 

  • Coaching session and Q&A session with the children at Woodlands School. 

  • Coaches presentation focusing on the development of players, latest trends in pro rugby and an open forum discussion on where the game is heading at both professional and amatuer level. 


In detail the main areas of practical coaching covered were: 

  • Scrummaging - Obtaining fast/channel 1 ball 

  • Kicking Clinics 

  • Use of the warmup time to improve ball handling and perfection of skills. This included building up into light contact  

  • Attacking in the Red Zone/last 10 metres to the try line; Having patience, use of depth, timing of runs and dummy runners & change of direction to breakdown the defence. 

  • Defensive Systems & Applying Defensive pressure against the attacking team. 

  • The Tackle & Contact area skills; including work of the tackler, assist and second or 3rd man in. 

  • Individual skills; Evasion, Off Loading, high ball work, as well as general core skills in attack. 

  • All these sessions were planned with high intensity and a thought process of placing players under greater pressure than the previous session. 


Within the coaching clinics the focus was on: 

  • Coaching Style 

  • Building the game plan & players executing & managing on-field. 

  • Set Piece 

  • Physical conditioning and how to design practice intensity and effectiveness in an amateur team who usually practices twice a week. 

  • Discussion on tools available in order to improve team mental power and attitude (concentration, group management and leadership). 

Coaching at Liceo Impulso School

The week took the form of coach education within the classroom followed by practical work on the field for a group of Montevideo area coaches, school visits and practical training sessions for the PGG Club sides. The Lion’s share of our time was the coach education and PGG team coaching but, as usual with these enlightening visits, it was the time at the schools, particularly when the children may not have been involved with rugby in the past or are from disadvantaged back grounds, that were the most rewarding for the HSBC Penguin coaching team. 

Thanks to the five Penguin coaches for their efforts and coaching expertise.

The five HSBC Penguin Coaches would like to thank Carlos Saccone-Deambrosis and Sven Gloor from HSBC for their support, plus the wider team at HSBC, and our principal hosts from PSG Rugby Club on Montevideo for making the team so welcome and showing such fantastic hospitality, and a fulfilling and enjoyable trip for those involved. We miss the Uruguayan BBQs!

Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group