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)