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London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell warmed up for Sunday’s top of the table clash with Bristol at the Kassam Stadium, by giving up his evening to coach the club’s under 14s.
Burnell made time from plotting a possible seventh straight win for the Exiles to join first team players Rob Lewis and Carl Kirwan to put the club’s under 14s through their paces at Old Deer Park.
“I love doing this kind of stuff and that’s how I started,” said Burnell. “It’s for the right reasons; nobody’s forcing us to do it.
“We can all be quite focused on Bristol but it’s not all about Bristol, it’s about creating a system and structure that will hopefully come through throughout the whole club of London Welsh.”
Skills, backline play and ball presentation in the contact area were all on the agenda at Tuesday night’s hour long session, which wasn’t the first time this season the professional and amateur sides of the club have linked up – the ladies team and other age groups have also benefited from such sessions.
“We are all one club; the only difference is we play our games at the Kassam. But we’re still the same club with the same name and the same identity. The more work we can do to help each other is what it’s all about,” added Burnell, who was originally approached by the chairman of the amateur club, Gwyn Williams, about getting involved.
“He’s so passionate about London Welsh, his son plays, and he’s in charge of the amateurs on a Saturday. The work he does typifies what we’re all about.
“I come from a very similar situation in Wales with a club called Llantwit Fardre. My elder brother coaches the first team, my dad was president and my son plays in the age groups.
“A lot of the professional players have done work with the camps and what we’re trying to do is hopefully get a professional player to adopt an age group. That’s something we’re trying to work towards with Gwyn.
“We enjoy doing it; it’s in our own time and we do see the benefits of it. We’ve just got to make sure that these relationships continue.”
Under 14s team manager Andrew Stitson, whose son Tom plays for the side, has been involved with London Welsh for the past nine years.
“Just the fact Justin and Rob and Carl are down here, the boys love it. It’s great and gives them a real buzz, and it’s a just bit different from the norm with their own coaches,” he said.