If you see a familiar looking rugby player on the streets of Oundle, it probably is Danny Grewcock, the former lock for Bath, who achieved 69 caps for England and 5 for the British and Irish Lions from 1997 to 2007. He was recently ranked as one of the Telegraph’s ‘20 hardest players in six nations history’.
After a successful career as a rugby player, in which he played with some of the all-time greats, Mr Grewcock decided to shift his focus from professional rugby to education, developing engagement and passion for sport as the director of sport at Oundle School. The Oundle Chronicle was interested in his views on the meaning of sport to young people, what can be learnt from sport and how, after a career in rugby, he views the role of sport in his, and other people’s lives.
Mr Grewcock feels that in order to enjoy a balanced life, one must embrace opportunities, including sport, particularly for young people, because sport does provide a balance in life. Although it is good for you both physically and mentally, it also offers an escape from one’s ‘day job’. It enables one to build character and learn valuable life lessons and skills, whether through the social interactions or the management of a team. He likens sport to ‘a physical game of chess’.
‘I have always been a team sport player and to me the most valuable lesson was learning how to get the best out of those individuals; there is no one solution to how you speak to people or how you manage them, and that can be taken beyond the field.’
As the director of sport at a school, he is now involved with young people on a daily basis and is keen to help students enjoy sport, as well as having time dedicated to it. ‘The physical challenge can be quite an easy one to set up… but I’m also keen on creating a mental challenge to stimulate people.’
Despite the benefits of sport, both the physical and mental ones, there are many young people who do little to no sport at all. Mr Grewcock argues that for young people to take up a sport they have to have the opportunity to do so, as well as being met with a friendly, encouraging atmosphere.
‘It’s brilliant to have large chunks of time put towards sport, but not every individual will love one particular sport. But if you give them lots of different sports to try and then the opportunity to develop and become good, they will find something that suits them and that they enjoy. It’s the job of a coach to create a positive environment people want to be a part of.’
With a long and successful sporting career behind him, Mr Grewcock has gathered many memories and life-lessons to work with. In particular, he recalls winning games no one expected his team to win, such as when the Lions won a test on their tour to Australia in 2001.
He also enjoyed games in which any given decision could have changed the game, such as when England toured South Africa and both games had been very close, with South Africa narrowly winning the first test and England narrowly winning the second.
‘To have that level of challenge where both teams are very well matched, meant that every little moment really counted, and I really enjoyed that.’
Photo by Ivan Quetglas