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Mark Mapletoft: “Unity and Consistency from Management is Key”

Mark Mapletoft, England International and Harlequins Coach with Pale Nonu, Rotherham Titans, in the background, at the FindRugbyNow London Sevens.

Firstly, I want to say a big well done to all at Find Rugby Now for their tremendous efforts at the FRN 7s on Sunday. It was a fantastic tournament, blessed with great weather and there was some excellent rugby on show. It was a pleasure to spend some time with the FRN staff and catch up with Crackers (Chris Cracknell) and Fiona Pocock and I would just like to say thank you to Ellaine for making my family and I so welcome.

We are a week out from the start of the season and I can imagine players, coaches and supporters alike are jumping up and down eager to get the first game under way.

Since my last blog, we (the Harlequins) have been to the South of France for a pre-season training camp, playing Castres on a balmy evening in St Affrique (a town which appeared to be 2 and a half hours from everywhere, well at least according to the cab driver who drove me from Toulouse airport!).

The match was part of the Armand Vaquerin Challenge, to celebrate the life of the former Toulon and France prop, who bizarrely killed himself in a game of Russian Roulette. The locals really go to town for the event, which is usually spread over three venues, and the hospitality is first class.

With most of our international tourists left behind in Guildford, a largely second string side gave a full strength Castres team a run for their money, despite the score line going against us.

Back on home soil last weekend, the squad enjoyed two good hit outs against London Scottish and Connacht, recording convincing victories in both games. What was most pleasing was that the areas we had been working on during the summer, were really evident. I mentioned to you all in my first blog that we are a huge believer in small-sided games at the club.

Games which place great emphasis on players getting lots of touches on the ball, played at a relatively high tempo. At times on the weekend, the opposition were unable to live with the pace that we played the game at, with players from 1 to 15, comfortable with a high tempo, offloading game.

We fully understand as a coaching unit, that this type of rugby will not always work and teams will try to stop the speed of the ball by slowing down the ruck, but if we keep striving to be better and stay ahead of the opposition then we have a decent chance of succeeding. Whatever your preferred playing style and philosophy, it is so important as a coaching group that you stick to it and get a buy in from all concerned.

There is no doubt that when you lose games, and lose games you will, you will all start to question what you are doing. The players need to see unity and consistency from the management, whatever the result on game day.

Good luck to you all, as you start out on the season. I hope the passion and enthusiasm are still there come April, only some 40 weeks away!


By: Mark Mapletoft, Harlequins Coach


About Mark Mapletoft

Mark joined Harlequins on July 1st 2010 from the RFU as National Academy and England U20 Coach. Since being appointed as a National Academy Coach in January 2007, Mapletoft has spent the last three years working within the RFU Elite Rugby Department under Rob Andrew, Head of Elite Coach Development Kevin Bowring and Head of Elite Player Development Stuart Lancaster. During his time in the Elite Rugby Department, Mapletoft has spent two seasons as Assistant Coach to Nigel Redman, during which time the highlights were an U20 Grand Slam in 2008 and reaching the IRB Junior World Championships Final in 2008. Since then, Mark has led the England U20 programme as Head Coach again reaching the final of the Junior World Championships in 2009. View all posts by Mark Mapletoft

1 Comment to Mark Mapletoft: “Unity and Consistency from Management is Key”

  1. Mike

    Good stuff Mark – all the best to you and the Quins for the rest of the season. Massive fan of Nick Evans – great professional!

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