Coaches Corner

Welcome to the Coach’s Corner…

I’d like to hear from a past Coaches/Managers on some stories/suggestions that could be included on this site.

“It was 1971, at a Auckland East trial, at that time the boys would come along and play in their school uniforms, I can clearly remember this tubby little fella with very baggy shorts attending a trial, all thoughout this trial these baggy shorts stood out, they were everywhere, the kids name John Drake made the 1971 team, I can still see those shorts today…..”
John Drake All Black debut in 1985….Bob Oliphant

THE 1993 ROLLER MILLS FINAL took place at Counties in a howling gale and a downpour against Waikato Rangers coached by legendary Joe Anderson. John Rich and myself coached the winning side NORTH HARBOUR. Included in our game plan was the idea of attempting any penalty within a reasonable distance of the posts which may result in a knock-on in those atrocious conditions.An attempt was made by our kicker (which had little chance of succeeding),it was knocked-on and with the Ref playing the advantage one of our players scored.The final score was 8-3.

“Play to the conditions!!!!”
Warrick Black
Asst Coach-2009-Ponsonby Reserves (Runners-Up)


“Well, it’s up to him now, he’s got his chance, he has made the ‘squad.”

A casual, parental remark that I overheard at a final trial several years ago, after an Auckland West training group had just been announced. What is implied? As I see it, simply this:
A Roller Mills side is the first truly representative team that a Primary schoolboy can get into. Although at the time he doesn’t realise it, all the inconvenience, raining, sweat, publicity and glamour attached to the Provincial scene is there, but on a miniature scale.

As a result of selection, the lucky Roller Mills player often changes in senior dressing rooms, wears his Union’s colours enthusiastically and runs out the players’ tunnel, so often seen on T.V., on to many of the major grounds from Taumarunui over to Rotorua, Whakatane, back past the Test ground at Eden Park and through to Okara Park in the North.

Players become associated with names, numbers, opponents and position in colourful programmes in curtain-raisers to their current Representative or All Black heroes, for the first time.

Atmosphere develops and a healthy, youthful tension actually appears, as the dressing room ritual unfolds, without murmur or protest, amidst the smell of linament and soft crackle of tape and bandage. Team talks are delivered, extremely hard games are played, success and disappointment colour feelings only momentarily at this young age, then come the speeches and the inevitable “do” after the game, with its fraternising, starts to assume some significance.

Perhaps more important through, is the fact that most boys find themselves subject to a certain type of discipline that they haven’t faced before.
At this higher level, no one is a star. Being captain or top points scorer, in the club or school side, counts for nothing. Other boys run as fast, tackle just as fiercely, field competently and tries simply don’t come.

There is visible uncertainty! Am I in the team or am I a reserve?

The result of course, is a Coach’s dream. A team spirit quickly develops through this competition for places and training, although hard and tough at times, is usually very fruitful, especially when it is constructive and interesting.

Indeed, the boy has reached the first Crossroads in his Rugby career. Will he listen? What will he absorb? How will he react and will he carry on?
Most teams have for coaches, teachers who are the best that the respective union and Primary School Service can recommend, in any particular area, in a given year. Practices invariably incorporate the essential basic skills. The value of sound unit and team drills are given great emphasis. Intelligent suggestion and advice is freely passed on and if interpreted correctly will quickly mould a boy’s early Rugby character.

The seeds are often sown at Roller Mills.

“Opportunity Knocks” as the saying goes. The Provincial Panorama, with all it entails, has come his way. If the lad responds, the Players’ Tunnel will open again to greater games and memorable social experiences.

Player maturity, surely begins, only, “If he takes his chance.”

Pat Sheehan, Life Member A.P.S.R”U. (1991 Programme) (Pat also went on to coach the North Island Under 17’s and the NZ Under 17 teams.)

Special mention goes to…

Mr. Joe Anderson of Matamata a Waikato Ranger coach has a record unlikely to be equalled for many years. Anderson coached Waikato Rangers to Roller Mills champion honours in seven out of eight years from 1978 to 1985.

Deon Wagner a proud South Africian coached the Auckland East team winning the tournament 5 in a Row (2003-2008) and 6 out of 7 years, Deon has moved to Kerikeri where he has taken coaching the mighty Taniwha (Northland) some early 2009 pre-season results show some real promise.

The Spraggon family has been involved with the Roller Mills tournament since 1963 and Ian is still involved managering the BOP team.

From Roller Mills Coach’s to…

Bob Oliphant coached the Auckland West team from 1970 to 1975 then 1978 to 1979. Oliphant then became NZ Under 17 Coach and for 3 years coached the North Island Under 16’s.

Pat Sheehan also went on to North Island and New Zealand Under 17 coaching.

Stewart Ashworth North Harbour coach from 2002-2008, In 2007 is a New Zealand Under 17 selector.