Rotherham Titans’ success this season - second in the Championship before this Saturday’s league game in Jersey and quarter finalists in the British and Irish Cup - owes much to the specialist work of front row and scrum coach Micky Ward.
The ex-Newcastle Falcons’ prop, who appeared in more than 280 games in all competitions, many with World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, coaches for four hours at Clifton Lane on Mondays, having driven from Tyneside.
In 13 seasons at Newcastle, Ward, 35, developed into one of the toughest props in the Premiership, and now as coach at National One club, Blaydon, and at Newcastle, where his boss in Dean Richards, he’s passing on his skills to the next generation.
“I began at Rotherham in July and I’m pleased with the progress. The boys are keen and get stuck in during very intense sessions”says Ward. “Before I come down, I get the match video and analyse Rotherham’s scrums and line outs. When I get to Clifton Lane on Mondays, I’m fully prepared. I meet Lee Blackett, the coach, tell him what’s gone right and the points I’ll be talking to the forwards about.
“I then get the props and hookers together and talk to them. I go into detail because I’ve looked at every scrum in the game. I’m enjoying it at Rotherham which is a good club where there’s real competition for places in the front row. Both hookers, Tom Cruse and Ben Sowrey, work hard and have different strengths. They are tough cookies, and the props are fine, too.
“Colin Quigley is experienced, Mark Tampin is good technically, Marshall Gadd is a strong lad, Robin Hislop is small but aggressive and Toby Williams is progressing at a rate of knots. On Mondays we do full scrums and work on all the technical aspects. I want to make sure that the lads are switched on mentally, are doing things correctly and if that’s in place, we’ll be a force in the Championship.
“There’s a real purpose at Rotherham and Lee and Ed Williamson, the forwards’ coach, are keeping the lads hungry for success and moving them to a better level” explains Ward.
Ward’s appointment indicates the growing professionalism which Blackett has introduced.
The Geordie’s role is highly regarded.
Flanker Jack Preece is one who’s benefited from Ward’s sessions:
“Micky has taught me things about scrummaging I never knew about. He’s brilliant, the props have improved a lot, he picks up on detail and has made a big difference.”