Coaching with Tom Dunn

12 November 2019

In the second edition of our coaching series, Tom Dunn delves into the training realms and taken the reins at Avonvale RFC as Head Coach of the Dorset and Wilts 1 North side. 

The Bath Rugby hooker had coached at the Club previously and had taken it upon himself to go a step further for the 2019/20 season as Avonvale aim for promotion.

Dunn said: “Two seasons ago I attended their end of season dinner and really enjoyed the atmosphere at the Club and the lads they had there.

“I knew the coaches that season but they left the Club that season so I stepped in at the end of last season as a coach and did what I could with the team and really enjoyed my experience with them.

“This year Avonvale offered me the opportunity to become their Head Coach and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to progress with my own development, so I jumped at the chance.”

Avonvale have won five of their opening six fixtures this season, and having scored 286 points, the side's aims are firmly on gaining promotion this season. 

“The team have had a flat start to the season, we lost a couple of our pre-season games and lost our first league game, but since then we have scored a few tries in our five wins and nilled two of those teams so we are currently sat in second place behind Frome seconds.

“I am currently trying to appoint George Worboys as Backs Coach at the moment because my strike-play knowledge isn’t quite what is should be for the squad so ideally I would say promotion is a must this season.

“We came second to Combe Down RFC last season and won 21 games from 22, so we know we have to continue our progression and gain promotion.”

Dunn takes a problem-solving approach with his team and insists that it is the best way for the side to progress together and get results on the pitch.

“The thing that I enjoy most is telling the team to do certain drills and let them get on with it, I then ask them to work out why I have asked them to execute that task.

“I give them clues, tips and I’ll ask them questions and I prompt them to do what I am trying to teach them to do and I enjoy it when the team learn and get things right and you can see the squad light up and achieve things in training.”

With over a year’s experience in the coaching set-up at Avonvale, the 26-year-old built a system at the Club which welcomes weekly attendance and boosts the team’s selection process ahead of matchdays.

“Attendance is probably the most challenging aspect. It is the amateur rugby bug bear with the boys training twice a week.

“I have put some things in place as a Player of the Month, which is sponsored by Nandos in Bath – so they sort us out with a reward each month."

Despite the commitments on a Tuesday and Thursday evening, it is at a weekend when time permits away from Bath Rugby.

He continued: “I really enjoy the role away from playing here at Bath Rugby. I enjoy the simplicity of the rugby and how it is all around the basics of the game. It reinforces thing that you do in training here, so I really enjoy that aspect.

“The principles of the game are the exact same but these are tweaked here at Bath Rugby, there is a more detailed plan and version of it here but if you dial it down, the core principle of what you are trying to achieve is the same at the lower levels of the game.

“It is an avenue that I am exploring and enjoying at the moment. The commitment is tough because it is your weekends that you’re giving up and I think post-rugby that is something most players want to get back, but I do really enjoy it.

“I enjoy the atmosphere and banter between myself and the lads, they are all similar ages to me and when I retire, I think that would be a good thing to keep myself in.” 

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