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England talisman Johny Wilkinson


Sir Clive Woodward








Phil Johnson over the last two seasons has extended his involvement with rugby union, working with players from the Aviva Premiership, Chapionship and academies. A particular focus of Phil's intervention in rugby have been with the specialist role of fly-half and those with kicking responsibilities. Integrating new approaches in eye movement, this enables past injury worries that interfere with kicking to be resolve, by removing sport trauma..

Phil played rugby league having been born in Warrington and close to St Helens, Wigan and Leigh, but became involved in rugby union when his son played for Cambridge.

Sir Clive Woodward: Whatever critics he may have, I do believe that some of the ideas and practices portrayed in his book "Winning" have great merit. In essence Woodward is a psychologist in his approach and this has now been transferred to his work with the British Olympic Association. His systemic approach towards fitness and psychological development of the team and individual have shown themselves to be successful. One important aspect of Clive's approach is in supporting the sport science team and manager/coach as well as players.

Culture in rugby is of great interest to psychologists given how different players and coaches react to similar scenarios in say football. I see rugby very much as a thinking game as often the opportunities to score can be limited and strategy plays a crucial part in overcomng strong opposition. However, there are plenty of examples of rugby players with low confidence or high levels of anxiety on match days which can often disable them from good performance.

Rugby players rely a great deal on their strength and conditioning, recovery from injury and team spirit to succeed, but self and team belief are also important components and require specific training too!

In a recent conversation with a manager he asked about what sport psychologists can do for him and his coaches? This shows refreshing and professional openness, recognising imperfection and the need for ongoing learning and reflection. This indeed is how coaches and managers improve and given their influence on their squad, imagine the overall benefits to the team.