From the farm to the big city

The Lions’ new rugby co-ordinator Allan Miles is looking forward to an opportunity of a lifetime.

After attending Jake White’s Winning Ways coaching course in Bloemfontein, Selborne College accounting teacher Miles had impressed White and Eddie Jones immensely. Miles is now at the Lions, where White is consulting director of rugby, as the newly formed consulting rugby co-ordinator.

‘The way Allan interacted and asked and answered questions impressed us,’ White told ‘The stuff we asked him to prepare he did really well, while he also had his own coaching manual with information he had collated over the years as a coach.

‘He was a guy who was meticulous in his planning and that’s why he’s specifically suited to the role at the Lions. He’s played and coached provincial rugby and has been in the teaching system for 10 years.’

Miles didn’t realise at the time he had made an impression, but lauded the intimate nature of courses where coaches could regularly converse with White and co, whether it be during classes or over a beer afterwards.

‘I didn’t think I had impressed them at all,’ Miles told this website. ‘I had asked a few questions but never caught on that they viewed me in this light. The great thing about Bloem was that it was very interactive and I was lucky to go there. It was really informative, while the other coaches were really good guys as well, which added value.

‘Jake gave me a call a couple of Fridays ago and said he had a position for me if I wanted it. I was always interested and just had to organise with Selborne. I was on a flight to Jo’burg on the Monday – it was all one helluva surprise.’

Miles is on a four-month contract, that will be reviewed after two. He was involved with the Border U16 and Craven Week teams, as well as being Selborne U15A coach. He is disappointed to leave those roles, but said this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

‘I never thought I’d be in this position, it came out of the blue. It’s a massive opportunity, it doesn’t get bigger than this coming from a school environment,’ said Miles.

The former Craven Week prop and headboy will in all likelihood return to Selborne in East London for his 10-year reunion later this year. He acknowledges life in the big smoke is vastly different to ‘Slummies’, but wouldn’t change it for anything.

‘I’ve had to make major changes – I’m a farm boy from a little town called Komga. I’m used to seeing lots of cows, not lots of cars!’ said Miles.

‘At the end of my time here I just want to be a better rugby coach in all areas. From a learning perspective, you can never learn enough and I want to absorb as much as I can from all the different people and departments I’m involved with.’

The top 10 coaches from the 350 present at the four courses will be announced in August with a total cash prize of more than R100 000 thanks to Highbury Safika Media and Discovery Vitality, the two main supporters of Jake White’s Winning Way.

The best coach will receive R25 000, the two runners-up R20 000 and R15 000 respectively, while places four to 10 will receive R10 000 each.

By Grant Ball