Another Level

POAET Owen Salmon (RNAS Yeovilton) has become the latest RNRU coach to pass the RFU Level 3 coaching award, which makes him one of the most qualified coaches in the Royal Navy. He joins the ranks of the Navy's other L3 coaches - Maj Steve Melbourne RM, CPO Si Burns, WO1 Billy May and Navy Director of Rugby, Lt Cdr Geraint Ashton Jones.

Although Owen was a top player who was capped by the Royal Navy against the Army in 2002 and again in 2003, many believe that his lasting contribution will be as a coach.  This is a simple acknowledgement of the impact that Owen has already made in his coaching journey and the potential that many see in him for the future.

After retiring from competitive rugby in 2006 Owen wanted to remain involved with the game and decided that the next logical step was to go into coaching.  Following discussions with the then Director of Navy Representative Coaching, Lt Steve Wrigglesworth, he was offered the role of Backs coach for the Navy U23 XV.  He also successfully completed his RFU Level 2 coaching award.  Although new to the RN representative set-up, Owen was not a novice coach, having already gained valuable experience coaching HMS Heron and the Fleet Air Arm Command team.  His first year of coaching saw Owen achieve success in both the Navy Cup, with HMS Heron, and also in the Inverdale Cup with the Fleet Air Arm.

If 2006 was a successful year then 2007 proved to be both a very successful year, and as a rapidly developing coach, a most rewarding one.  The Navy Cup and Inverdale Cup successes were repeated but as part of a revamped U23 coaching team, he had formed a most effective coaching partnership with new U23 Head Coach, Lt Cdr ‘Doc' Cox RN and had been instrumental in ‘building' a team containing sixteen new players.  This team won the U23 Inter Services Championship - the first occasion that the Navy had remained unbeaten for twenty years.

As part of the Navy Rugby Coaching Development programme, Owen was invited to join the Senior XV TSG for the 2008 Inter Service campaign before joining the coaching staff fully in 2009, the same year that he was promoted to Head Coach of the Navy U23 XV. He also was part of the coaching team for the Combined Navies team, which played a one off match as the culmination of the 2009 Commonwealth Cup.

Not originally in the 2010 Senior XV coaching team, Owen was invited to rejoin the team in March, following very successful sessions delivered as part of his RFU Level 3 course.  He played a full part in the Inter Service success and has been retained for the important 2011 campaign.  Though this has necessitated him relinquishing his U23 coaching role, he will remain involved with the team as a mentor to new Head Coach, CPOPT Clayton Patilla (HMS Nelson).

As with many involved with Navy Rugby, Owen's success has been down to hard work by him and also through the considerable support of colleagues on his squadron and within the wider Fleet Air Arm.  He has also been able to gain valuable experience through his involvement with civilian rugby, in particular Ivel Barbarians and Bridgewater & Albion rugby clubs. Owen and Navy rugby acknowledge the support both clubs have given him and also the flexibility that the RFU coaching department showed to ensure that Service rugby coaches can achieve their qualifications within the Service environment, acknowledging the unique pressures this often brings.

Owen was also keen to mention the support of two people in particular who assisted with his coaching journey.  First is Stu Woodhouse who came over from Australian rugby side West Harbour as player coach for Bridgewater & Albion RFC.  In Owens words "Stu was a class player and a great coach, he showed me what controlling rugby on the field was all about and when to make the right decision at the right time."  The second is Steve Wrigglesworth who though now retired from the Service still gives Navy Rugby great coaching support from his wide experience and gave Owen his first opportunity, an opportunity that Owen grasped with both hands.

Commenting on Owen's Level 3 award Navy Director of Rugby, Lt Cdr Geraint Ashton Jones (Navy Command) said: "Owen is one of the first Navy coaches to come through a tailored development pathway which is still ongoing.  As his Level 3 award clearly demonstrates he is a very talented coach who I am quite sure will become one of the best coaches to have coached within Navy Rugby.  He continues to challenge himself and has a constant thirst to keep learning both about the Game and also coaching in general.  Already he has a great CV of coaching and playing achievement and I am sure this is only the start.  I have enjoyed working with him as part of the same coaching team and like the rest of the Senior XV coaching staff, I have benefited from his desire to keep everyone, players and coaches, on their toes and looking to improve.  He serves as a great example to others in the Service who wish to forge a career in coaching and shows that inevitably you get the rewards of your efforts."

If you wish to find out more about coaching within the Royal Navy Rugby Union then contact the RN Rugby Development Officer, CPOPT Ady Cherrington  on 93 80  24426 (023 92724426). 

Further details of the four RFU Coaching Awards can be found at: