Coaching a natural progression for former Waratah AJ Gilbert

Tue, 05/10/2021, 04:56 am
NSW Rugby
by NSW Rugby
AJ Gilbert of the Waratahs passes the ball from the scrum during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Force and the Waratahs at nib Stadium on June 9, 2013 in Perth, Australia.
AJ Gilbert of the Waratahs passes the ball from the scrum during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Force and the Waratahs at nib Stadium on June 9, 2013 in Perth, Australia.

Hailing from the country, rugby union was embedded in AJ Gilbert’s upbringing.

Having played at a professional, semi professional, and country level - Gilbert has a fair understanding of the game and thought the progression to coaching was a natural one.

“When I finished up playing professionally I just really wanted to give back to the country area and kids in the country, and I thought coaching was a great way to do that,” Gilbert said.

“I’m still playing at a club level, and my role at the club is the Director of Rugby - so ‘m not just the first grade coach but I’m responsible for the whole rugby program, from under 8s through to women’s and first grade.

“So when the opportunity came up to be part of the Level 3 Emerging Talent Coach Program I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

With the opportunity to learn from his peers, Gilbert enjoyed the chance to revisit the city and reinvigorate his coaching techniques.

“Sometimes you can feel a bit isolated if you’re not in the city, and you doubt yourself of whether you are still current in your coaching styles and philosophies,” Gilbert said.

“I think the biggest take away for me was having the opportunity to learn from the experiences and different backgrounds of all the coaches who were part of the course as well.

“We also had some unreal presentations from the NSW Rugby staff and Waratahs coaches - they were so great.

“The background and experiences from all the people who were in the room, was so great to learn from,” he said.

Gilbert encouraged anyone who was thinking about applying for the next intake to get involved.

“Definitely do it! For me, as soon as it came up I applied, not knowing whether I’d get in because of knowing the calibre of coaches who had been a part of the course in the past,” Gilbert said.

“But I was so happy when I was selected. You can never stop learning, and there is the potential to get so much out of this course.

“Even though the last weekend ‘camp’ is long gone, we are all still talking and having discussions about coaching.

“We’re all staying pretty well connected and it’s something long term I think we will all benefit from as well,” he said.

Applications and more information for the 2021/22 Emerging Talent Coaching Program are now open - please contact

Owain Roberts owain.roberts@nsw.rugby

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