Former Western Force assistant coach and current Gordon club mentor Geoff Townsend will guide the North Harbour Rays through the inaugural National Rugby Championship season.
The move follows Phil Blake’s acceptance last week of a coaching opportunity with European powerhouse, Leicester Tigers, in the Aviva Premiership, the English first division.
Blake will finish the season with the Manly Marlins before heading to the northern hemisphere, but will continue to be a sounding board as preparations for the start of the NRC on August 23, 2014 hot up.
The Rays’ coaching selection panel, which included Rod Macqueen, Peter Carson, Grahame O’Donnell and chairman Gary Flowers, moved quickly once Blake’s departure was confirmed and unanimously endorsed Townsend.
Townsend is one of the best-credentialed coaches in the Shute Shield having mentored at Manly, in Japan, Southern Districts and now Gordon.
Warringah coach Haig Sare will continue to work with Townsend under the new structure and Manly’s scrum doctor and forwards coach Damien Cummins has been added to the team.
Cummins has worked with the Waratahs front rowers this year and helped with the NSW Under 20s program. He has coached first grade at the Marlins for the past four years and assisted Tim Lane with the Georgia national team in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.
His addition to the coaching team means the Rays will have one of the best player connected and aspirational young coaching teams in the NRC.
Northern Suburbs’ Scott Fava, who was among the initial coaching team announced last month, has decided to pursue other opportunities.
Townsend spent four years at the Western Force where he worked as their Academy coach and worked with John Mitchell as his assistant of the Super Rugby team in 2009 and 2010.
In 2007 he played a major role with the Perth Spirit under John Mulvihill in the Australian Rugby Championship where they made the semi-final only to be knocked out, ironically, by the Central Coast Rays.
“This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to hopping into the hard work,” Townsend said.
“We (the North Harbour Rays) will be judged by our results, but as a coaching group we want to see as many guys from our program as possible go through to the next level and beyond.
“I have always been big about sustainable culture in any program I am involved in, and that culture and harmony among our four member club will be an important part of what the Rays are about.
“As I said earlier this is a great opportunity and there is a lot to be gained for everyone who will be involved.
“But at the end of the day as coaches our job is to push the players forward so they can be seen. If they do well we all do well.”
Townsend led an historic induction and information day for the Rays at Macquarie University on Sunday.
GEOFF TOWNSEND (Gordon)
ARU Tier 3 Accredited
Smart Rugby Accredited
Co-Coach – NSW Under 19s – 1997-99
Shute Shield Co-Coach – Manly 1999-2000
Coach/Technical Advisor – Kobe Steelers (Japan) – 2001
ARU Smart Rugby Program – Educator/Presenter – 2001-2
Coach/ Technical Advisor – Teikyo University Rugby (Japan) – 2002-2004
Shute Shield Head Coach – Southern Districts – 2004-06
Super Rugby Academy Head Coach – Western Force – 2007-09
Super Rugby Assistant Coach – Western Force – 2009-10
Shute Shield Consultancy Coach – Sydney University 2011-2012
Shute Shield Head Coach – Gordon Rugby – 2014
DAMIEN CUMMINS (Manly)
Scrum coach – NSW Waratahs 2014
Assistant coach – NSW Under 20s 2014
Forwards coach – Manly Marlins 2010-2014
Assistant coach – Georgia national team 2010-2011