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The Bahrain Rugby Football Club (BRFC) decided to go in-house to lead its all-conquering regional champion team, bringing on Adam Wallace as the head coach and Lindsey Gibson as the assistant coach of the Bahrain first XV squad.
Previously the team captain of the rugby boys, Wallace is now stepping into the figuratively and literally, large shoes of local celebrity coach Louie Tonkin, to lead the team through their coming season, and hopefully to another West Asia Cup.
“The great thing with Louie was that he empowered the squad to be player-led even while breeding a professional winning team spirit,” said the tall Englishman from Kenton. “To a huge extent, it feels like we have been prepared to step into the coach’s role all along.”
Wallace, who heads student recruitment at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Bahrain, knows the team inside out and was involved with recruiting Tonkin three years ago.
Wallace has played previously at Hartpury College RFC and was briefly “linked with Gloucester rugby”. He usually plays centre position, giving him the perfect on-field and off-field experience for his new role.
He will be aided in his new role by assistant coach and sports coordinator of the BRFC, Gibson.
Gibson, who previously captained the team when Wallace took a break from the sport, attributes most of what he has learned about coaching to Tonkin.
“I never had any experience of coaching senior rugby until I came here,” said the Scotsman. “Coach Tonkin gave a lot of responsibility to the senior team members. I have been very fortunate in having some incredible coaches as my bosses as well. Back home, I worked under the Glasgow Warriors’ forwards coach and here, working with Louie, I learned quite a lot about empowering players. The key is picking the right leaders on the field, which can then make the calls as they see them and run the plays.”
As the GulfWeekly previously reported, Tonkin’s recruitment revamped the team and turned around each player’s performance as well as their professional pride. By the time Tonkin left to join the Exeter Chiefs as Academy Coach, he made sure he was leaving the boys in good and familiar hands.
When asked what top lessons from Louie’s coaching they would keep, Wallace emphasised: “Top three lessons would be, he broke down the season into smaller blocks. Instead of managing the entire season at once, we’d manage maybe four weeks or games at a time.
“Second, he had a lot of attention to detail. When you are playing at an amateur to semi-pro level, everyone has different skill and experience levels. It’s crucial to know each player’s level and to ensure that everyone is on the same platform before pulling together.
And third, it doesn’t matter what level you are playing at; you have to be the best at non-negotiables. Being the best at things that don’t need talent. You don’t need to be talented to put in hard work or turn up on time at every training session.
“Once you have that covered, the additional talent helps you stand out. There’s a lot of teams that focus on the direct talent aspect, but we think the winning formula starts with having the non-negotiables figured out.”
For now, most of the boys will remain the same and except for a few strategy changes which the coaches were coy about, the team will continue on its journey through success. As the men start another season at the end of the month, GulfWeekly is eager to see the team grow under the guidance of Wallace and Gibson and wishes them the best of luck.