Former Wallaby to coach Maccabi NSW Rugby

February 22, 2012 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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The Maccabi rugby club has pulled off one of Maccabi sport’s great coaching coups with the appointment of former Wallabies fullback and Australian rugby legend Glen Ella as coach for 2012.

Glen Ella runs his eye over training alongside club president Steve Cohen.

Ella, who played four Tests for the Wallabies between 1982 and 1985, hails from one of Australia’s most famous sporting families; alongside brothers Mark and Gary, they are icons of Aussie rugby.

While treading through knee-length grass or trying to find a patch of turf at Queens Park might be a whole world away from his roles as Wallabies’ assistant coach to Bob Dwyer at the 1995 World Cup and later to Eddie Jones, or the Brumbies’ technical adviser in Super Rugby, or as Australia’s rugby sevens coach – but it’s just the way he wants it.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun, actually,” Glen told Maccabi News during his first week of training.

“I got a bit sick of the high level stuff.

“People think, oh you’ve dropped a couple of levels. But, it’s still a challenge. You go to the first training session and the grass is up to your knees, and you say, I can tell the difference between what I’m used to and this.”

When asked what spurred him no to take the job, Ella said he is motivated by the challenge of getting the best out of a team at grassroots level.

“The challenge (excites me), to get back to the grass roots,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in high level rugby for a long time now, so just to slow that down a little bit, but in some ways putting something back.”

The Maccabi boys have already made an early impression – and he likes what he sees.
“I’ve known about Maccabi for many years … the boys aren’t giants in terms of stature, but they’ve got big hearts. I’m happy coaching those types of things, rather than monsters with big tickers.

“There’s some skill there, it’s only early days, but all I know is they’ve got big tickers and they love to play hard, so I’m happy with that as well.”

Amongst other roles, Glen has worked with Easts rugby in recent years. His aim is to have enough players across two sides who are improving throughout the year.

“In the training sessions we’ve had there was a great difference in skills and fitness levels … so I said to the stronger guys, you need to help lift the skill levels of the younger guys as well. If we get two teams we need the second team to push the first team.

“I come from a competitive background so the aim is to win as many games as we can, preferably all of them.

“As I said to the guys, I want to come away having made them better rugby players than when we started. If that happens, they’ll get more enjoyment out of it. If they can see they’re progressing they might be able to try harder too.

“But, the thing about it is, I like to enjoy myself, but I said to the guys, when we switch on, we switch on and play good football.”

Former player Steve Cohen has stepped up to replace David Greenstein as club president, as David concentrates on his role as Maccabiah’s open rugby manager.

Steve told Maccabi News: “in my opinion, this is the biggest thing to ever happen to Maccabi Rugby.”

“It defies belief that a club of our size has been able to recruit such a quality coach, and is really an indication that the club is in a good space and well respected in the rugby community.

“With Glen on board, we are set for a massive season, and more importantly are in a strong position to regain our gold medal in Israel next year.”

Steve says that numbers have been encouraging in the first week of training and the signs bode well for the club’s ability to field two teams. But any players interested in still trying their luck this season should join the club for training, as they still eye up as many as 10 more spots on their roster.

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