Force appoint Richard Graham head coach
Thursday July 1, 2010
The Western Force will continue to build on the strong foundations established in Perth with the appointment of Richard Graham as Head Coach from 2012.
Graham, who joined the Western Force this year as Backs Coach following seven successful years coaching in England, will succeed incumbent Head Coach John Mitchell following the completion of his contract at the end of the 2011 season.
The 37 year old was selected from a high calibre group of applicants. His knowledge of the squad, plans for the future and top class coaching pedigree convinced the RugbyWA selection panel that he was the right man for the job.
“Richard is an exceptional leader and rugby tactician who has a proven ability to nurture and create an environment where players can excel,” RugbyWA CEO Vern Reid said.
“He has already made a significant impact since arriving at the club and in tandem with John Mitchell will continue to build our young and exciting list next season before taking over in 2012.
“The position of Head Coach at the Western Force was highly sought after. We had a long list of qualified candidates however in Richard we felt we had someone who embodied the Force culture and is committed to continuing the development of rugby in Western Australia and ultimately our aim to become Super rugby champions.
“We have the utmost confidence that the timing of Richard’s appointment will enable a seamless transition not often afforded to professional sporting organisations and one which will prove to be a significant benefit in our planning going forward,” Mr Reid said.
Graham has served his coaching apprenticeship for the best part of a decade following a playing career in which he captained the Australian Sevens, represented Australia A and also competed at two Commonwealth Games.
His professional coaching experience began in England where he was Backs and Defence Coach at Bath before heading to Saracens as Coaching Co-ordinator and was appointed to the Head Coach role in 2009.
Graham returned to Australia late last year to work with Robbie Deans in the Wallabies programme and joined the Force as Backs coach for their most recent campaign.
An astute reader of the game and excellent man manager, Graham will continuing his coaching development under Mitchell in 2011 before taking on the top job.
“I’m delighted to be given this opportunity and feel as though it is the right time to be making the next step in my progression as a professional coach,” Graham said.
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked under five international coaches and certainly think I have done a worthy apprenticeship. I look forward to having another season working under John and when my turn comes in 12 months time I certainly will be ready for it.”
Graham will become only the second Head Coach in Western Force history and RugbyWA Chairman Geoff Stooke OAM said he had full confidence that the club would continue to prosper under his coaching leadership.
“We’re delighted that Richard has accepted the position, we believe he is the right man to take the organisation and the team in the next step of our development,” Mr Stooke said.
“John Mitchell established a fantastic rugby programme from the ground up. The key objectives of the team were to grow rugby in WA and grow Wallabies and we have certainly achieved both of those things in spades and John can feel proud of the work he has done here.
“John’s job isn’t finished and he has another year to go and we’re hopeful it’ll be a big year.
“We’re very fortunate to have Richard already working with John so the transition will be smooth. Richard has developed a great rapport with the current coach, current support staff, our player group and all of those in and around RugbyWA and the Western Force and we look forward to him continuing to make this a world class rugby destination.”
Mitchell, the inaugural Western Force Head Coach, announced earlier this year that he would not be pursuing an extension to his contract following the 2011 season and has been a strong advocate of Graham to be given the opportunity following his departure.
“John has been wonderfully supportive during 2010 and given me increased responsibility as the season continued and I can only see that relationship developing further next season,” Graham said.
“I think John is a wonderful resource for me and the club and he is happy to share his experiences attained at the All Blacks, England and also his time setting up the Western Force football programme.
“The nature of the beast is generally that one coach finishes and another steps in however I feel that I will be in a far better position having been with the organisation for the two years previous.
“I know the people in the organisation, the areas that we’ve done well and the areas where I think we can continue to improve,” Graham said.
The Head Coaching role appealed on a number of fronts including the potential of the squad assembled at the Force and the passionate following for rugby in WA, while off-field the lifestyle opportunities for his young family we’re too good to pass up.
“We have a wonderful group from which to go forward. We’re a young group that seek knowledge and have a willingness to learn and I think we have a great base in our squad to produce a consistent winning side,” Graham said.
“You can see the work that has already been done and the benefits of that. I see my job to come in and build on that, you only need to look at the support we get at home games to see that passion for rugby. The ‘sea of blue’ is without doubt the most passionate and recognisable group of supporters in Australian rugby.
“It’s fair to say that the entire family has settled very well in the great Perth lifestyle and we’re happy that we’ll be here for the long haul.”
Graham will continue with the Australian Rugby Union in his current position as Skills Coach until the end of the 2011 World Cup.
Born: August 5, 1972
Skills, Backs & Defence Coach – Bath, 2002-06
Backs & Defence / Coaching Coordinator – Saracens, 2006-09
Head Coach – Saracens 2009
Skills Coach –Wallabies, 2009 – present
Backs Coach – Western Force 2010 - present
English Premiership Finalists – 2003-04 (Bath)
Powergen Cup Finalists – 2004-05 (Bath)
Heineken Cup Semi-Finalists – 2005-06 (Bath)
Heineken Cup Semi-Finalists – 2007-08 (Saracens)
Australian Sevens (1998 – 2002)
Queensland Reds (1998 – 2002)
Australia A (2001)
Commonwealth Games (1998 & 2002)
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