Kevin Bowring is retiring this week.
He has been the Rugby Football Union’s Head of Professional Coach Development since 2002.
This is a brief post to celebrate a remarkable career of a friend for almost forty years.
I first met Kevin in the 1970s whilst he was a student at Borough Road College when he and I started our playing careers at London Welsh. I had been fortunate to meet many remarkable rugby players at Loughborough College but Kevin’s understanding of the game took my own thinking about rugby to a different level. I was fortunate to play seven-a-side rugby with him and appreciate at first hand his playing and leadership abilities.
A decade after leaving London, I met up with Kevin again in his role as Wales Under 21 and then Wales A coach. In the early 1990s he was widely regarded as the senior coach in waiting. In 1995, he realised that expectation as a very modest and humble coach of Wales in the professional era.
I had the good fortune to work with him throughout the 1990s and see his game understanding translate into outstanding coaching. He had a compelling vision for how the game could be played and by 1998 had a sense of the game that was a decade ahead of his time.
Kevin resigned from his position as national coach in 1998. I thought his departure was an immense loss to the game. He had brought a profound educational approach to coaching that connected the game with its coaching roots nurtured by Ray Williams and Carwyn James. I thought he made the third member of this trinity of understanding how to coach and value players as individuals.
I was delighted that the RFU recognised Kevin’s ability as the founding head of coach development. Since 2002 he has worked with a generation of coaches whom I have always regarded as the Bowring Babes. These coaches have transformed rugby coaching in the last decade. Everywhere you look in England you see coaching flourishing as a result of the programs Kevin has put in place. His passion for coach learning has had a profound impact on European coaching as well. He was the recipient of the Dyson Award in 2007 for his services to coach education.
In 2013, I was fortunate that Kevin and I were able to work closely together again. He kindly agreed to support a coach learning project that I suggested. It involves following coaches’ learning journeys as a critical friend. I hope that the project has embodied all the educational qualities that he values.
Kevin will continue to work with the RFU in a part-time capacity. I am hopeful that I can continue my learning journey with him too.
I trust he has the most delightful of farewells from his peers at Twickenham today.
Kevin Bowring (WRU)
Kevin Bowring (RFU)
A top man and a huge influence on many. Thank you Kevin.
Keith, you will be pleased to hear that this was Kevin’s leaving speech…
That is wonderful, Rusty. Thank you for letting me know. Just need to confirm the hug and the Bowring Babes photo.
Passion and professionalism in spades, and a gentleman to boot. A privilege listening to him summarise his career and learnings yesterday
I am delighted you were there, Paul. Thank you for finding the post.
Hope all is well.
Like Keith I had the privilege to work with Kevin during his time at UWIC (now Cardiff Metropolitan University). Keith has accurately portrayed the gentleman that Kevin is and always will be. Kevin is the ultimate professional who, despite all his achievements, remains grounded and humble. Kevin is one of those people who always looks out for others before himself. I feel privileged to be able to respond to Keith’s wonderful and compelling account of his experiences with Kevin. Like him I feel very lucky to have shared parts of the journey.
Thank you for sharing this, Julia. Quite a journey we have had 🙂
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