Ex-England coach Stuart Lancaster preps Harrogate rugby squad in new defensive thinking

Stuart Lancaster guides the Harrogate players through a few pointers
Stuart Lancaster guides the Harrogate players through a few pointers
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The Harrogate rugby squad had a debrief of the highest order on Tuesday night when ex-England coach Stuart Lancaster put them through their paces at Rudding Lane.

The former England head coach was called upon by ’Gate director of rugby Mike Aspinall to offer his insight into a new defensive approach the club wants to operate.

Lancaster with four of the Harrogate squad on a wet night at Rudding Lane

Lancaster with four of the Harrogate squad on a wet night at Rudding Lane

Despite heavy rain, the Harrogate squad reviewed recent performances and then transferred skills onto the training pitches.

Aspinall said: “We were quite specific about what we wanted him to do. It wasn’t just about getting him in as a celebrity session. We wanted to get a different voice to talk the boys through it and it was a good, high-intensity session.

“As a coaching staff, we were really pleased with the outcome.”

Lancaster was sacked by England following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when his side failed to make it out of the group stages.

The coach had previously worked with a number of the ’Gate squad during his time in the academy routes at Leeds Carnegie – now Yorkshire Carnegie.

“There were a few familiar faces for him in the room,” added Aspinall. It was nice for the players after a long few days work or university.”

Aspinall is changing the defensive structure to cope with changing playing styles towards the end of the season.

He added: “Now the pitches are drying up, or so they should be, teams will start to move the ball faster and we want to defend wider.”

Harrogate were without a fixture over the weekend and several of the squad were given a week of light training to focus their recovery.