Rugby Union

Army Rugby Union Reshuffle: Major Burnard In New Director Role

Major Wayne 'Burnie' Burnard will take over a new role after the Army Rugby Union changed its management structure.

The former senior team head coach will lead from a newly-created job as Director of Rugby Development.

It means he will take a closer look at coaching within the Army sport.

Explaining his new job duties, Maj Burnard said: "Primarily, it’ll focus on coaching development across the community game and the representative game.

"We’re hoping to develop the role into player development and also looking at crossing over into the officials’ space as well.

"It’s really a catch-all rugby development within the Army Rugby Union which, I must say, I’m extremely privileged and really looking forward to taking the role on.

"I’ve got a lot of experience now from doing pretty much every team in the Army from the under 20s, 23s, A team, senior team and, of course, UKAF as well. I’ve been in the system and a head in all of those teams."

He continued: "I can offer them some form of mentoring role but also help people achieve their goals.

"The idea will be to identify talent as they are coaching in unit and corps level, and then try and work out a pathway and a journey for them to transition through from that level into the representative teams."

Maj Burnie Burnard Credit BFBS 11112020.jpg
Major Burnie Burnard's most recent involvement with the team was as head coach.

While the role will be looking at the coaching side of the sport, Burnard was full of praise for the current men and women in charge of the teams.

He said: "We’ve got a really good group of coaches at the representative level at the moment.

"Certainly, Mal [Roberts] has taken over with the Senior XV which is great, Gareth Slade-Jones has taken over the under 23s and Gemma [Stonebridge-Smith] is involved with the women.

"Sevens will be interesting in terms of what goes forward with Sevens.

"I mean we need to make sure that we’ve got a plan in place but all three of those head coaches are outstanding so, luckily, we’ve got a bit of time, but it’s all about who’s coming next.

"Who are we going to pull through?"

The change in management set-up is a major step from the Army to stay ahead of the curve.

But what is the end goal for Burnard?

"They’ve given me an intent in we must make sure we have enough players playing the sport, coaches to deliver that but also to put quality rugby on the field at representative level," he explained.

"That’s pretty much the intent, so I’ll just build a plan around that. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

"It’s all about making sure it’s always competitive at playing level. We need to make sure that it is competitive at coaching level," he added.

"The more passionate coaches you have will ultimately build better players and therefore produce a better product on the field.

"I really think that a lot of that work has been done but it’s been left to the representative head coaches to do some of that in terms of what coaches they bring through.

"I think someone just sitting above that looking for talent, making sure there’s more opportunities, linking in with the RFU, linking in with the Premiership clubs that we’ve got really good relationships with, and just building people’s experience, making them better in all facets.

"I think that will end up with a better product on the field within Army rugby."