London Irish’s coaching staff will be given an exclusive insight into what makes Pep Guardiola one of the world’s top managers after being invited to watch Manchester City train on Friday.
Nick Kennedy, the Exiles’ director of rugby, plus coaches Declan Danaher, Paul Hodgson and George Skivington will watch Guardiola as he prepares his City team for their Premier League clash at Watford on Saturday, then sit down with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager to discuss the coaching and management philosophy they hope can boost their bid to keep newly-promoted Irish in the Premiership this season.
England head coach Eddie Jones watched Guardiola, who won 14 trophies in the first four years of his career in management, including a Treble in his first season with Barcelona, take charge of a training session while he was at Bayern and credits the Catalan for fundamentally changing his own attitude to dealing with players. Now, Kennedy and his fellow coaches are hoping to be similarly inspired.
This will not be the first time they have cast their gaze away from the oval-ball game, having previously spent time with the England hockey squad and visiting Arsenal and Chelsea.
Kennedy, whose team were brought back down to earth after their opening-day win over Harlequins with a 37-7 defeat at reigning champions Exeter last weekend, is delighted to be meeting one of the world’s top football managers and told Standard Sport: “It came about through a friend of a friend. We will watch training and then he has been generous enough to give us some time afterwards to talk about coaching squads of elite athletes. I know that Eddie Jones learned so much from the energy that Pep gives and the communication in different languages in a session. We have an awful lot to learn from him.
“We have spent time with England rugby and hockey, Chelsea and Arsenal because we are young coaches and try to learn as much as possible because we need to be getting better.
“Playing at Sale on a Friday night is a tough one and they had good home record last season. Steve Diamond (Sale’s coach) is a great motivator and will have his team up for it. We are going to have to play at a very high level to get a positive result.
“We have learned a lot from both games so far in the Premiership. Exeter played the conditions really well but we haven’t come away with our confidence knocked”.
Kennedy is also hoping to get some tips to boost his fantasy football team at Irish. “I am disappointingly mid-table at the moment,” he said.