Three of Saracens coaching staff travelled to Australia earlier this summer for a fact finding mission at three of the country’s elite sporting organisations.
Kicking coach and Australian native Dan Vickers was joined by forwards coach Alex Sanderson and backs coach Kevin Sorrell on the two week trip where the Saracens triumvirate visited Rugby League side Melbourne Storm, AFL’s Hawthorne Hawks and the ACT Brumbies in Canberra.
“The trip was brilliant” said Vickers, “It was a good balance between fun and work. We had some awesome experiences and we got a lot out of it terms of us developing as professionals”.
“The three clubs we visited are all institutions in their relative codes and have probably all been the most consistent teams as well in recent years. It was nice not just to go to a Rugby Union set up but to see different codes and see how they do things”.
“So I suppose that’s the basis of why we went to those places, it was the three sides track records that attracted us, for example the Hawthorne Hawks, they have won ten premierships in the last fifty years and in the last five years they have been a top four club consistently in what is a very competitive competition with a draft and salary caps system”.
Vickers explained how trips such as the two week spell down under are ‘imperative’ for coaches to maintain and edge in modern sport, and was happy that the Saracens trio was able to travel together to pick up some new experiences.
“I think as soon as you stop thinking or looking to gain an edge or improve yourself you’ll get left behind” explained the Saracens kicking coach”. “So you have to keep on improving and looking to places that are willing to share as well, that’s imperative”.
“To do it together, to be able to go out there as three coaches was the best thing about it. The three of us not only enjoyed our time together but also learnt from the different experiences the three of had in what had been a new environment”.
An ex-Manly and New South Wales fullback in his playing days, Vickers was able to visit his family upon his return down under and he enjoyed introducing his fellow coaches to the organised chaos that is AFL whilst in Melbourne and Sydney.
“We caught a few games when we went out there. I introduced Alex and Kev to AFL and I’m not sure they were aware of how long an Aussie Rules game goes on for (four 30 minute quarters) and they were asleep by the end of the game“.
He added; “It was nice to go back home, I was going to take Kevin and Alex to go and see my folks but they were having too much fun in Sydney, so I left them down there and I went to visit home which is on the Australian central coast just about an hour and half north of Sydney. It’s something that I’ve not be able to do for a while so it was that was really nice to get to visit my parents when I was out there.”
Vickers certainly believes the trip was worthwhile and believes that Saracens can benefit from it in the long term.
“I think the probably the most important thing that we picked up was how the clubs consistently reflect upon their core values and core behaviours of why they are where they are in terms of success” revealed Vickers.
“What we took away from the clubs was all that they were built upon strong values and a strong culture, and what was striking for us was how those values are always revisited and refreshed through different programmes week in week out, and we can certainly take a lot of that into our work here at Saracens”.