Former England Sevens coach to drive Bury to the next level

NEW LINE-UP: Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club's new coaching set up . Back row (from left): Andy Price and John Curry. Front row (from left):Justin Loveridge, Damian McGrath, and Gavin Hogg

NEW LINE-UP: Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club's new coaching set up . Back row (from left): Andy Price and John Curry. Front row (from left):Justin Loveridge, Damian McGrath, and Gavin Hogg

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Terry Sands believes adding ex-England coach Damian McGrath to Bury rugby’s off-the-field team is just as important as signing a quality player.

McGrath, who has spent the last two years contracted to the RFU as an assistant coach for England Sevens, as well as leading Great Britain Sevens to a gold medal at the World Student Games last year as head coach, will take up a new role at the Haberden focusing on skills and defence.

It comes as a new coaching structure is being implemented at newly-promoted Bury St Edmunds, which will see Gavin Hogg continue as director of rugby, overseeing the work of four specialist coaches, including McGrath, who has an extensive rugby league background, including an assistant role with the England team at the 2000 World Cup .

And performance director Sands has high hopes for what the man who was brought into the England set-up by Sir Clive Woodward to work with the England A team in 2004 ahead of also working with England ahead of their Barbarians match a year later, can bring to Bury.

“Damian’s CV speaks for itself and he is a fantastic acquisition for us. A defence and skills specialist and defence can wins games.

“We are increasing the quality of players we have on pitch, and equally we have got to increase the coaching staff accordingly.

“We have split the coaching up now so each coach has specialist areas to work on, which will give them more time and opportunities to work with players individually.”

Tim Grimsey, who was coaching England Counties last season, returns as a breakdown and contact coach, while Northampton Saints Academy coach Jon Curry will have responsibility for scrum and lineout and Justin Loveridge is another new addition, the rugby development officer for Norfolk for Leicester Tigers and former Wymondham coach, focusing on attack and kicking.

The players returned to pre-season training at the end of last week, with McGrath, who will remain based in Leeds with initially a non-matchday responsibility working from Suffolk Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, hopeful of helping to bring players on ahead of the club’s first season at the fourth tier in National League Two South.

“I am very much skills-based, which is a rugby league thing,” he said, explaining that an illness, which he is now recovered from, had seen him stand down from England Sevens ahead of good friend Sands’ approach with an offer to work at Bury.

“I will bring my expectations and standards here, and hopefully the players here will jump at the challenge such and can go on to the next level.”

A former professional rugby league player with Batley and Swinton, the now 56-year-old was part of the coaching team at the successful Leeds Rhinos in the late 1990s, and after switching codes, was a first-team skills coach at Leicester Tigers between 2002-06.