Gary Heatly caught up with Sam Rowlands as he prepared for his debut season as the 2nd XV coach.
By Gary Heatly
We recently heard from men's 1st XV Head Coach Jason Riley via the website that he is very much just one part of a bigger team of coaches.
Those coaches - Conan Sharman, Nathan Borel, Sam Rowlands and Euan Robertson - are working alongside Jason with all 'club' players who train and will be involved for the ones, the 2nd or the 3rd XVs in the coming weeks.
Sam Rowlands will mainly be involved with the 2nd XV on match days and the young up-and-coming coach is excited to be at Myreside.
"Jason has created a great club feeling amongst all the boys that train," Sam said. "That means that there are no splits between 1st XV, 2nd XV and others, but instead, every player is helping the other players get better and they are all pushing themselves and that can only help us as a club when it comes to game days.
"It is the same for the coaches too, because although Jason is the Head Coach, the rest of us all have plenty of input and plenty to do and we are helping each other to get better and sharing ideas.
"That is a really refreshing thing and I think it has created a great buzz and connection in the wider squad and amongst the coaches during pre-season and at the start of 2022/23.
"We are now just looking forward to seeing the club XVs playing regularly and building from there because there are a lot of talented players vying for spots in the various teams."
So, how did Sam, now 33, end up in Edinburgh and with Watsonians?
Well, he was born and spent his early years in south Wales before his family moved to Brussels in Belgium when he was six due to his Dad's job.
"I grew up playing junior rugby in Belgium and then played age-grade rugby there at an international school and at a local club," Sam explains.
"We played against a few English schools at that time and those were good matches while the general standard of rugby as I grew up was good."
"My passion for rugby really grew from there and being from Neath, I am from a very rugby-orientated family and already had the sport in my blood. I represented Belgium at age-grade level, which was a great thrill and then I got a rugby scholarship to go to Llandovery College back in Wales when I was 16."
After he finished his studies at Llandovery College, it was off to the University of Bath for Sam where his rugby continued and he also took a year out during his degree to play professionally for Richmond.
"I enjoyed my rugby at the university and with Richmond and while the latter wasn't at the top end of the pro game, it showed me the standards you had to hit in order to make it to that top end," Sam, who currently works in student support, said.
"Once I had graduated from Bath, I headed up to Scotland to live and, after a spell playing for Stewart's Melville, took some time out of rugby and worked as a Personal Trainer.
"In 2017 myself and my wife were living in St Andrews and I joined Howe of Fife. That was a great move for me because everyone in Cupar was so welcoming and they really made me feel part of things, it reminded me what a community rugby club was all about.
"And since I joined Watsonians I have got similar feeling, everyone is helping me out and I am learning all of time from those around me as I continue to transition from being a player into being a coach."
The 1st XV are due to be in action away to Melrose this coming Saturday, September 17, at 3pm in Tennent's National League Division One.
At the same time, the 2nd XV are hosting Gala 'A' in Tennent's East Reserve League Division Two and, at the same time, the 3rd XV are due to be at home to the Caledonian Thebans in Tennent's East Reserve League Division Three.