Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club announce new head coach with international experience as Nick Wakley
‘If he wasn’t on study leave, there’s no way we could afford him, we’re extremely fortunate’.
It is safe to say Bury St Edmunds performance director Terry Sands is pleased with the pedigree of new head coach Nick Wakley.
And you can see why, with the former professional player having a string of coaching achievements to his name – despite only turning 38 years old last week – including leading a club ‘much like Bury’ up the league ladder to Welsh Premier Division glory.
The Welshman, who has agreed terms until the end of this season, has also coached the Wales Women’s sevens squad and been lead backs/attack coach for the XV squad.
He brought that experience to The Haberden yesterday as he oversaw his first game at home against Clifton, a narrow 13-17 loss.
The Wolfpack had looked to build on the ‘promising’ 20-20 draw away at Redruth in the National League 2 South the weekend earlier.
Sands said: “He’s an accountant and he’s on study leave from that for a Masters – so we’re extremely fortunate the timing worked out.
“There’s no way we could afford him otherwise, we’ve landed on our feet as it turns out the situation fits both our circumstances.”
Wakley replaces Jon Curry as head coach following the latter’s surprise departure due to a funding shortfall at the pro-am club.
“Things are still challenging but it’s starting to even out and we’re getting back on track,” Sands added.
“I was not expecting what happened (with Jon) to happen, but I have known Nick for years and so got in touch with him straight away and I knew he might be a good fit. He can bring a lot to the team.”
Wakley cited his time at Ebbw Vale, in South Wales, as key to his ability to hit the ground running on Saturday as he looks forward to a return to coaching.
He said: “I had two years in Ebbw Vale which is very very similar to Bury in terms of a community based rugby club with great values and a good culture running through it.
“I’ve been in that sort of semi-professional environment and I’ve had a lot of success, we got to the Welsh Premiership final in the first year and then won it the year after.
“They have a good fan base here in Bury.
“I also bring teams together very quickly and I have a good background in that. I have a good understanding of how we do it, so I don’t feel pressurised in those terms because I believe I can do it successfully and have done for many years.
“It’s about focusing on not trying to reinvent the wheel but on the points of where we want to attack and where we want to improve.
“I think that the boys need to show that real hunger of wanting to get back in the game as that defence have shipped too many points in my opinion, especially at home and it’s about trying to make this place a fortress.”
Wakley said he had spent a lot of time analysing the tactics and performances of the club this season – as well as sitting down with each member of the squad to share his thoughts on how they could improve. He has already spoken to about 70-80 per cent of the squad.
And it showed as, despite the loss, the Wolfpack's improved defensive work-rate was clear to see.
“It’s been a great exercise for me as it gives me an insight into their psyche as well as their ability,” he said. “As a new coach, there’s a tendency to rip up the playbook and start from scratch but, mid-season, that’s very difficult to do.
“So I want us to be harder to break down, that’s the key message from previous games.
“But we also need to work harder over the next few weeks, and I believe the boys have got to put that graft in over the next couple of weeks to really see the fruit of that in the new year.”
He said he was encouraged by the away draw at Redruth and felt confident that better results were on the horizon.
They almost recorded a win on their longest away trip – a mere 774 mile round trip – but three yellow cards and 20 minutes of rebuffing phase after phase of Redruth attacks saw them concede a converted try 17 minutes after the clock had hit 80, to level the scores.
Cam Ritchie (unconverted try), Nick Perez (penalty kick), Will Scholes (unconverted try) and Finlay Sharpe (converted try) scored the visitors’ points.
“Without using old cliches, I think we were robbed a little bit,” Wakley said. “I think the boys had done enough to win it.”
Meanwhile, in the Women’s NC East 1 division of the RFUW Championship, Bury Foxes continued their unbeaten start to the season.
The team defeated Stanford Le Hope 25-5 at home on Sunday to see them also claim a winning bonus point – as they have done in their other four fixtures.
They travel to Chelmsford Ladies on Sunday (2pm).