Saturday 15 March 2014 Written by: Adam

Senior academy players, representatives from the under-18s and members of the coaching staff, including academy manager Mark Laycock, heard an inspirational talk from Steve Black who is widely regarded as one of the best motivational speakers in the world. Indeed former England and Falcons legend, Jonny Wilkinson has said of his work, “he is the best at what he does and I know that to be exactly true.”

The event was part of the RPA Player Development Programme (PDP). The programme aims to individually assist players in their personal and professional development and provides them with skills for a smooth transition into life after rugby. Each Premiership club works with an RPA player development manager (PDM) and part of their role is to work with players to help them to become more rounded individuals and better prepared for life on and off the rugby pitch.

RPA player development manager for Newcastle Falcons, Mandy Thompson, said: “This talk was an excellent example of our Player Development Programme in action and how we are aiming to motivate the players to be the very best that they can be.

“Rugby can be a relatively short career and helping players to think about and acquire new skills for life after they finish playing is a vital goal for us. It is also important that the players broaden their interests and are constantly pushing themselves in their everyday development. Steve’s enthusiasm and expertise was inspirational and delivered exactly the right message to the players about how to make the most of their attributes and skills.”

Steve Black is certainly well qualified to talk about how to make the most of your attributes and skills. He started life as a doorman in Newcastle at the age of sixteen but at the same time he pursued a fledgling career in management by running local football sides in the area. He decided to develop his coaching prowess further, and soon it became evident that this was where his future lay. Applying all his energy and natural enthusiasm, he began to attract interest from notable sporting icons in the region and soon he was working for Newcastle United during the glorious Kevin Keegan era and it was Keegan himself who described him as “the best one-to-one coach in the world.”

Mark Laycock, academy manager was delighted with the response of the players, saying: “To have Steve Black address the academy players was an unbelievable opportunity. He was so impressive in the way he talked about their need to be effective and to use their minds to make themselves better players and better individuals. I am sure all of them will have learned a tremendous amount from him and we look forward to seeing the results both on and off the pitch.”