With the impending England U18s vs Scotland U18s fixture this coming Sunday we have been casting our eye over the squads and have seen a familiar name on the coaching staff.
Mark Luffman is working with the England U18s on a consultancy basis alongside his other coaching commitments with Darlington Mowden Park.
Mark, formally a coach at Yorkshire Carnegie Academy and a former hooker, comes into the England fold as a forwards coach.
I have managed to catch Mark for a quick catch up before the game on Sunday.
So, you have been coaching at Mowden so how did this opportunity arise?
"I started working for the RFU shortly after leaving Yorkshire Carnegie Academy in 2014. I was asked to work with the hookers and front-row players in the pathway. When I joined Mowden Park in 2017 I was fortunate enough that they were happy for me to continue the role and it’s fantastic to be able to coach different levels of the game."
What's it like coaching the next batch of future England stars?
"As a coach I love the developmental aspect of the coaching, they are a great age group to coach. The lads are always super enthusiastic and keen to develop and the Academies do a fantastic job of producing highly skilled, tactically aware, athletic players.
To be even a small part of their development whether that be honing their skills, talking through tactical issues or just being a sounding board for their thoughts and questions is a real honour and great delight.
Hopefully we help them on their pathway to professional rugby in the Premiership and also through the international player pathway. For some this will also lead on to international recognition and the skills and memories they have gained from these internationals will benefit them in the future."
Billingham have this great opportunity to host an international fixture. What are your thoughts bringing international rugby to the North East?
"I think it’s great taking international fixtures around the country. The Red Roses had a sell out at Doncaster RUFC in February as did the U20s at Bedford last week against Italy. I think it helps to bring the international game closer to the public and spread the game across England. On Sunday it will be nice for all the youngsters to see players who may be playing for England in a couple of years".
I’d like to thank Mark for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
We would like to wish Mark, coaches and players the best of luck in the game on Sunday.
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Updated 16:45 - 12 Mar 2019 by mike brown