Leicester Tigers have appointed Tom Hudson, Rochelle Clark and Luke Stratford to the roles of Senior Coach, Scrum Coach and Forwards Coach respectively, for the side’s women’s team.
Hudson will join Tigers from his current roles as Head Coach at Ampthill Rugby in the Championship and Club Lead Coach at Cheltenham Tigers, a role that encompasses both the men’s and women’s teams.
The 28-year-old Newcastle-born coach has also spent time coaching Tigers’ overseas partnership club KL Tigers over in Kuala Lumpur.
Having made his start in rugby through the Tigers academy, Hudson then made the move to Gloucester, where he began his coaching journey with the Cheltenham Tigers women’s team.
Hudson, who came through the Tigers Academy, now makes his return after 10 years away. When asked about his journey at the club, Hudson said “I’m very excited to come back to Leicester as a coach. I have such fond memories of being a player for the academy and I’ll be eternally grateful to Leicester for launching my career as a player. I was never able to fulfil my duties as a Tiger due to a career ending injury at the time but I’m so happy to get another opportunity to represent this incredible organisation.”
When asked about his coaching journey thus far, Hudson added “During my time away from Mattioli Woods Welford Road, I’ve coached in a variety of places, all of which have taught me invaluable lessons along the way. Specifically, my time with Cheltenham Tigers women’s: we were exposed to the rapid development and success of women’s rugby and I know its potential is monumental.”
“I just can’t wait to connect with all the coaching staff and the players at Leicester. We know as a section that we have to work harder than anyone else, both on and off the field, to compete in this league. We have every intention in doing so.”
Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Clark joins the club from Buckinghamshire County, where she is Head Coach for the women’s team. Clark has extensive coaching experience, most notably at Saracens, where she was Forwards Coach for last year’s Premier 15s winning side.
However, she will be most familiar to fans for her lauded playing career, one which saw the front-rower amass 137 caps for England, which, at the time, was the most won by any player, man or woman.
Her international career saw her play in four World Cup’s (in 2006. 2010, 2014 and 2017) including playing a key role in England’s victory in the 2014 tournament, starting the final and playing the full 80 minutes at loosehead prop. In 2015, she was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to rugby.
When asked how she was feeling ahead of her move to the club, Clark said “I’m really excited at the prospect of coaching alongside the team at Tigers as well as the development of the playing group as they transition into a Premier 15s side. The league is a big unknown to many in the team but that’s exciting, I’m looking forward to them pushing themselves and helping the younger players to realise their potential but also pushing my own skills as a coach.”
Clark will be balancing coaching with punditry in her role at Tigers, as her work as a broadcaster has gathered steam over the last couple of years. The prop’s CV is extensive even outside of playing, her commentary duties adding to coaching experience at Buckinghamshire, Saracens, Chesham Stags and Buckinghamshire University.
When asked about her diverse portfolio, Clark added “I’ve coached across many different levels, from grassroots to the elite and I think that that versatility can only help me in this role. Whilst playing at the highest level, I always enjoyed making decisions as to what the team needed and to now be able to do that from the side lines suits me.”
Finally, Stratford joins the club as Forwards Coach for the women’s side, having previously been Head Coach at Longlevens RFC as well as a Rugby Coach at Hartbury University. He also has experience as forwards coach at Cirencester RFC.
The 28-year-old had previously been a hooker for Championship side Jersey Reds, a side he played through the age-grades for and where he made his senior rugby debut and Hartpury University.
When asked about how he felt joining the club, the Jersey born hooker replied “I’m very excited to join the team, we’ve got a great team of young coaches here. The club has a whole has such a storied history across domestic competitions and Europe and I hope we can live up to that reputation with the women’s team. We’ve got a young side at Tigers and I’m looking forward to aiding them in their development over the next few years”.
With the coaching team for next year now finalised, Head of Women’s Rugby Vicky Macqueen was asked about the line-up ahead of pre-season.
“Now that we’re able to confirm the appointments of Tom, ‘Rocky’ and Luke, I’m very happy to say that our coaching team for next season is complete. I’m ecstatic to have secured established coaches with such esteemed reputation in the women’s game and excited to see how they can aid the wider squad in their development and push them to that elite level.
As well as those names I’ve just mentioned, we’re delighted to also say that Defence Coach Steve Hanna and Strength and Conditioning Lead Lewis Knight will be continuing in their roles with the team. They were vital parts of the success we enjoyed last season and I know both myself and the wider squad appreciate everything they do.”