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From Paris to Pontypool - How Andrew Quick became Pooler's defence coach

Friday 14th December 2018

What links the football tournament Euro 2016 and Pontypool RFC?...No idea? You would be forgiven for not knowing. During a summer when the Welsh football team would enthrall a nation on their way to the semi-finals of their first major tournament for 58 years, newly appointed Pontypool RFC head coach, Leighton Jones, would recruit an important future member of his backroom staff whilst on a trip across the channel.

Jones, who had served as forwards coach at the club for the previous three seasons, had replaced Louie Tonkin in the Pontypool Park hotseat. He was in the early stages of reshaping the club after a season that had seen Pontypool miss out on promotion to the Principality Premiership and had already brought ex-Ospreys fly-half Matthew Jones on board as a player-coach.

Then, during the June of that year, Jones, along with Andrew Quick and then club analyst, Lee Williams, made a trip to Paris during the tournament. It was during the stay that Jones asked Quick if he would be interested in taking up the role of defence coach at the club.

It would be Quick's first foray into coaching following his retirement from the game in 2015.

Jones believed Quick to be a perfect fit for the role due to not only his rugby intellect, but also his respect for the club's environment and understanding of what it means to represent Pontypool. Quick, who hails from the town and featured for the club during his playing days, jumped at the chance. "It was during our trip to Paris for the football that Leighton mentioned there might be an opportunity for a defence coach at the club and would I be interested,” said Quick,

"It was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down and I'm so grateful to the club and Leighton for the faith they have shown in me. I have also been able to work for and attain the relevant coaching badges needed whilst at the club and that again is an opportunity that I will always be grateful for."

Quick name-checks Harlequins Director of Rugby, Paul Gustard and Wales defence coach, Shaun Edwards, as the two coaches who have inspired him most during his time as part of the club's coaching staff. He also credits his playing career with preparing him for his current role, believing his time as a scrum-half enabled him to gain a greater understanding of the game.

"My defensive systems are largely based on what I used to hate playing against as a player. I'm a big believer in denying the opposition time and space to launch attacks and an aggressive line speed is key to that.

"I played alongside some of the current squad and that has actually aided my transition into coaching. I have a huge amount of respect for them as players and individuals and that has in turn been shown to me as a coach.

"I'm lucky to work with a squad who are chomping at the bit week-in, week-out. It makes your job a lot easier when you have a group of boys that have the ability ours do.”

Quick's defensive work has paid dividends, with the club conceding just 82 tries in 55 league games since his arrival at the club, an average of just under 1.5 tries per game.

This weekend, Pontypool welcome strugglers Beddau RFC to Pontypool Park for the club's final home game of the year. A 29-18 victory in the reverse fixture in September was regarded at the time as the club's best performance of the season, following a tricky start to the campaign. A similar display will be needed on Saturday afternoon, as they prepare to face a side desperate to start climbing the table.

"You never get an easy game against Beddau," continued Quick. "They're always a determined side and if we want to come away with the win on Saturday, we have to be prepared to work hard and see off their challenge. Although, if we perform like we know we can, I'm confident in our ability to get the right result."


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