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Damian Welch to be Appointed as Albion Head Coach

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Damian Welch to be appointed as Albion Head Coach.

The former Cardiff Blue and Exeter Chiefs player has signed a two-year deal with the option of an extension.

‘I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in. From the moment I spoke to Max (Venables) about what the club saw as there way forward I think it made me more desperate to get the job. My interest has been peaked ever since that moment. I’m really looking forward to getting down there and getting stuck in. I’ve heard good things about the fans, Max has explained the whole Crowd Funder initiative and the fact that it has been massively successful says to me a hell of a lot about the state of where we can get Rugby to in Plymouth. If you have got that type of fan base with that kind of commitment, then it will be exciting times ahead. Hopefully, Corona Virus will blow over and we can get back to making Albion great, that would be fantastic’.      

 Mr Welch retired last season after a 13-year playing career in which he won an Anglo-Welsh Cup winner’s medal in 2014, and an Aviva Premiership winner’s medal in 2017.

 Our new man at the helm spoke to us about his decision to step into coaching and why he chose Plymouth Albion…

 ‘I was still playing last season, but it became clear that my involvement in Rugby with my playing career had to cease at some point fairly soon into the future. So, I started looking around for coaching opportunities to see how I could keep being involved with Rugby beyond playing. I went to see a couple of people at Exeter Chiefs to pick their brains to see what they thought would be a good idea in terms of pointing me in the right direction. Following on from that the academy coach, Rob Gibson, got in touch with my agent and let him know there was a Head Coaching role available in Plymouth which I had known about. Obviously, I’m very familiar with Plymouth (Albion) as an entity bearing in mind, I had my time with the Chiefs, I knew a few boys who had gone down to coach, and a few boys that had gone there to play on the permeant side of things. It sounded like quite an interesting opportunity. So, from there I spoke to Max Venables about their plans and what they wanted to do with the club, and I was quite surprised at the scope of the vision they had for what they wanted to do at the club. It was different than just wanting to be a Rugby club; they have an all-round more holistic approach in mind from what I can see, it was very interesting, not necessarily what I expected to hear. From there I was very very keen to throw my hat in the ring, and it worked out’.

 The ex-Forward gave us an insight into his previous coaching success whilst still playing…  

 ‘Coaching-wise when I was at Chiefs, I was coaching at Exeter University. They had a program where some of the players go out and coach the Exeter University teams. I ended up coaching their first team with Haydn Thomas, we actually got them to the BUCS final at Twickenham which they went on to win, that was my first grounding in it. I did bit and pieces along the way at Chiefs and then from there I moved on to a couple of the semi-pro clubs in Wales and did bits and pieces there trying to combine it with a bit of playing. I was basically playing at Cross Keys helping out there as well. So, bits and pieces as I’ve gone along but this is my first full time coaching role so for me it is massively exciting, and it is a real chance to sink my teeth in’.

He shared with us which coaches had the biggest impact on him through his playing career…

 ‘I’ve been really fortunate in terms of the people I played for, a variety of international coaches. This included Rob McBryde at Scarlets, Danny Wilson at Blues, Dale Mcintosh – he was Cardiff Blues coach and he also coached Namibia at the World Cup and then, of course, the guys like Simon Easterby at Scarlets now with Ireland. I have been really lucky, going to Chiefs was big for me in terms of coaching and I don’t think it gets better than that. It was so detailed, so well thought out and their planning is so meticulous and one of the things that have really rubbed off on me because it was a bit of an eye-opener. The way I’ve been coached I hope will stand me in good stead. I’ve been so lucky to work with coaches with different ideas as well, so I get a good chance to cherry-pick what I think is going to work the best’.  

 We were even given some insight into what we can expect to see at Brickfields next season…

 ‘I have had a look at how Albion have been playing, the good news is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The style of play I saw towards the end of the season fits fairly close to my kind of vision, fast open play, a lot of ball in hand, that kind of thing, but obviously, with me being a Forward we’ll try and mix that with a nice hardcore edge. There are already some incredibly good foundations in that department. The scrum is looking particularly powerful, just little details like our maul defence as an ex-Forward it is very pleasing to see. In terms of exciting Rugby that’s the way we are looking to play’.

 And finally, how he intends to work with the players in this peculiar time…

 ‘I’ve started reaching out to some of them. The main thing for me is I want to hear the boy’s opinions on things as well, what went well last season, what areas they feel they need to improve on and what areas we need to improve on as a squad – just getting an overall picture. It is important to use this time to build those foundations’.                

We can’t wait for Damian to get started and moving the club forward with him.

Welcome aboard!

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