Former Highlanders player John Leslie has ramped up his goal to boost the number of junior rugby coaches by rebooting his acclaimed training programme.

Leslie, a former Scotland international, says there's no shortage of mums and dads willing to get involved in coaching - but they often lack good resources to make it happen.

The Dunedin-based rugby guru is visiting Hawke's Bay clubs to pass on tips in a new series of free workshops for volunteer rugby coaches throughout New Zealand.

He will be holding two coaching events on Wednesday and Thursday.


Commercial cleaning firm CrestClean is backing Leslie's programme by supporting the 50 training events. It's enabled the skills clinics to be offered free of charge to participants.

Leslie, who set up LeslieRugby in 2006 to foster the game at grassroots level, has totally reworked his training ideology. He says it's never been easier for people to gain the skills to be involved in junior rugby.

At the workshops, course participants will learn the latest coaching techniques. They will also be able to get a copy of Leslie's new free 39-page Junior Coaching book.

He is determined to put the fun back in coaching. He says all too often those coaching youngsters lack a good plan and the confidence to successfully deliver it.

"People can get stuck at practice, especially if they haven't got their planning right.

"These workshops are all about giving volunteer rugby coaches a plan so they'll never feel stuck or frustrated at rugby practice again.

"I've coached more than 20 rugby teams in my 13 years of volunteering at rugby coaching. I've boiled down my learnings into three core principals and a two-step plan," he says.

John Leslie conducts coaching with youngsters. Photo/NZME
John Leslie conducts coaching with youngsters. Photo/NZME

Leslie has worked on the new coaching programme with his close friend, Tony Brown, a former Highlanders coach who led them to their Super Rugby Championship in 2015 and who now coaches Japan's national rugby team.


"I've teamed up with Tony to get the professional angle and blend it in to work at a grass roots level," he says.

The workshops are aimed to empower attendees. "Each coach walks away with a solid understanding of how to run an hour-long coaching session. The downloadable coaching book means coaches have all the information in the palm of their hand, viewable on their phone or mobile device."

The programme is a way to help strengthen junior rugby teams from the ground up and enhance the quality of the experience for everyone who's involved, he says.

Grant McLauchlan, CrestClean's managing director, says junior rugby suffers from a lack of trained coaches - but no shortage of keen parents who want to give it a go.

"What they need is a training plan to bring out the best in their kids' teams," McLauchlan said. "That's why LeslieRugby and CrestClean have teamed up to develop an easy-to-follow programme of core skills," says McLauchlan.

He says the programme empowers those people at the coalface of rugby coaching. All the workshops are free.

The first one is at the 22 Te Aute Rd, Havelock North, from 5.30pm-6.30pm on Wednesday.

The next one is the following day at the Napier Tech RFC, 91 Barker Rd, Marewa, from 6-7pm.