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Rugby Wisdom Podcast - Craig Wilson Talks Rugby With Ben Ryan

March 08, 2022 3 min read

July 22, 2020

Craig Wilson was born in England and is currently the men's and women's Head Coach at Yale University. Wilson was internationally capped for the Hong Kong National Team and has represented professional academies at Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints. He has played in both the Scottish and Hong Kong premiership and coached the India National Team at both XV’s and sevens.

Ben Ryan was the longest-serving England 7s coach with 58 tournaments. In 2015, Ben became Head Coach of Fiji and soon became their most decorated coach of all time with back-to-back World Series titles and back-to-back Hong Kong 7s tournament wins. The best was yet to come, as Fiji famously won the 2016 Rio Olympic Gold. Since Rio, Ben is the Technical Director of Rugby X and is a consultant to elite sports teams around the world.

Rugby Wisdom Podcast

Ben Ryan

Craig Wilson:Welcome to Rugby Wisdom in 3, the impactful podcast that does not impact your time. My name is Craig Wilson and I’m your host. This show is all about sharing rugby wisdom and I would love it if you share this podcast with a friend. If you have not done so already, please subscribe now so you don’t miss a thing. On today’s show, I’m joined by Ben Ryan. Ben was the longest serving England sevens coach, with 58 tournaments. In 2015, Ben became head coach of Fiji, and soon became the most decorated coach of all time with back-to-back World Series titles and back-to-back Hong Kong sevens tournament wins. The best was yet to come, and Fiji famously went on to win the 2016 Rio Olympic gold. Since then, Ben is the technical director of Rugby X and is a consultant to elite sports teams around the world. 

Ben, welcome to the podcast. 

Ben Ryan: Brilliant to be here. 

Craig Wilson: So, you’re renowned for being a deep thinker that leaves no stone unturned to unleash peak performance. That includes spending time with teams in the Premier League and the NBA. So, can you share what you have learned from other sports and why you would encourage the rugby community to do the same? 

Ben Ryan: Yeah, sure. Look, I’m always striving to, trying to learn, and rarely you kind of get those snippets of fervor learning from your own sphere. I’m always looking elsewhere, outside, and always with an open mind. I’ve been lucky enough to go to some of the best sporting organizations and teams in the world, but I’ve learned as much or probably more from the quiet corners of learning. I don’t always go to the obvious source. I remember once when I was having to work out how we could get better over jet lag, I didn’t go to the sporting teams. That was the obvious one. Because I thought they’re probably all doing the same things. I thought, “Let’s try something different and go to an orchestra that have traveled vast continents, step out of the plane and immediately they’ve got to play pitchfork perfect sound all the time.” 

And I wanted to know how they did that, and how then it might give me a tip to help me plagiarize that, bring it into my own sphere, to try to do things differently. Maybe then that will lead you to breaking new ground, find new ways to do things. I was the first rugby coach to ever use GPS in live games back in 2006, and now it’s across the board. It’s what’s next. What else can you do? It doesn’t always cost money, and if you find new ways to do things, that also goes on the field, as well. Find little ways to push what you’re doing as far as the laws of the game and techniques, tactics. row in 15-a-side, where you just pick one person that has no particular role. The different types of back line formations that I got from looking at how football had developed its formations over the years from the book Inverting The Pyramid. 

And you know, you’ve always got to look outside to then push within. 

Craig Wilson: That’s brilliant and anyone can do that, any level I’d imagine. Any go down to your local football club or your local squash club. You can always find something new. I really appreciate your time, Ben. 

Ben Ryan: Absolute pleasure, Craig. 

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