The election of Chris Heat as the coach of the Polish national rugby team caused much controversy in the entire community. In an interview with Interia, the Welsh coach presents his vision of leading this team and talks about his past experience as a rugby coach.
I became a coach of the Polish national rugby team. This is the biggest challenge in your career so far?
Yes, and I can’t wait to face it. It is a great honor for me to become the coach of the Polish national rugby team, he will have a chance. I wouldn’t go into this process if I didn’t feel like it was something I could do and that I’m really passionate about. The experience and knowledge I gained in previous positions gave me an excellent platform to work on. I’m excited to see where we can go as a team in the coming years.
This is not your first chance to collaborate with the Polish national team. What happened before? Why did you quit?
My contract was about to expire and another job offer appeared. For me it was an opportunity to further develop my personality and skills. She left on good terms with the Polish Rugby Association without any bad feelings. This position has provided me with the experience and knowledge that I can now implement as a head coach.
The atmosphere surrounding the selection of a new course for the Poles was tense, and most fans were betting on Thomas Putra. Do you feel the extra stress associated with it?
No. I have been named head coach and people will always have a chance to speculate on what other candidates on the team might achieve, but I’m here to get the job done. I press myself enough to work with the players and get the best results from them and myself. Everyone who participates in Polish rugby wants the national team to do a good job and play at the highest level and that is what I will do.
There was also a lot of talk about your coaching experience. How long have you been working in top clubs?
I’ve been working with big teams since 2012, when I started my coaching career in the first team at Pontypool RFC. Since then, I often combined roles in different teams: in the Ynysybwl RFC leading the first team, the Polish national team, including the seven team, and I was also in the coaching staff of the Wala Sevens. I was captain of Samurai International, and recently the second German national rugby team with seven men. I also have experience working in development software with players looking to be professional rugby players. This combination of experience and knowledge will help the players to develop in the Polish training system.
You start working with a team that hasn’t made the expected progress recently. What is your plan to develop these players? What style do you prefer?
I look forward to being able to use the positive aspects that this team has shown in recent performances, but also to work on improving the elements that can help the team perform better. It is important that we create our identity, not just as a team, but as a whole of Polish rugby. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to achieving, of course with the players and the management.
How many times will you visit our country and watch the League matches?
I intend to travel between Great Britain and Poland, which is very difficult at the moment due to the epidemic. However, we have an agreed schedule with PAP, what and when will I do when I come to Poland.
The big bonus I got during this pandemic is that most of the matches are done online, so I can watch the league matches every week and that way I see more players than if I was watching the matches live. Instead of two games, I see them all online. Of course, though, I really look forward to meeting the players in person and the coaches as well.
When are you planning your first training camp with the staff?
For now, the priority for the PZR is to finish the Extra League, and Rugby Europe has so far introduced a calendar of the Sevens. We haven’t planned any training camps until the end of June, but I plan to meet all of the Extralega teams by the end of the season. These games and games that I plan to watch will give me a great perspective and will be a chance for everyone to get to know me and the plans of the national team. We hope Rugby Europe will tell us the cup matches for the 2021/2022 season by then.
What is your main goal with this team?
We are here to make the most of the pool of players currently playing with the squad and help them develop their potential. As I said before, it is important as a team that we build style on the positive aspects of our game, but also address areas that need improvement. We’ll focus on some key indicators that will help improve the team’s performance. We need to build a team that can play now and in the future. If we improve upon those aspects that we can control, then we get the look and results we deserve.
Are you going to learn Polish?
I always try to learn the language of the country in which I work. From my past experience, I know Polish is a very difficult language to learn, but I will try to remember a little and build on my past experiences, especially in rugby vocabulary.
You have already had the opportunity to get to know our country a little. What do you like most about it?
My family and I had a great time in Poland and were able to visit many places. Whenever I travel anywhere, be it a training camp or a club, the people are very welcoming. She fully understood the landscape and the importance of rugby for the Polish audience. I look forward to reconnecting with some old friends and making new ones in the years to come.
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