We are excited to announce the new Henley Hawks Women's coaching team for the 20/21 season. Alistair Mortimore returns to be Head Coach to lead our fresh and impressive coaching team, which includes former internationals Gill Bourke (51 caps for Ireland) and Fiona Pocock (35 caps for England). Gill comes in as Forwards and Defence Coach, Fiona as S&C and Backs Coach, and Sam Driver continues as Forwards Coach. It's exciting to have such a talented team working together which will take us to the next level in performance, individually and collectively.
It's fantastic to have Ali return to the club after four years away gaining experience with other teams, including Harlequins Women and Oxford University. In that time, he's worked with a wide range of players, coaches and mentors all committed to driving women's rugby forward. Being involved in games where 5,000 people attended a women-only match shows what is possible.
Ali Mortimore - "It’s an exciting time and great to back involved in a coaching capacity again at a time when the club are further increasing their profile and support around the women and girls’ section. The opportunity to lead this amazing squad and coaching crew we are assembling, in what is our 25th year, was too good to miss. "
Former Irish International Gill brings coaching experiences from overseas. Gill is a hugely engaging and inspiring coach, and has a wealth of international playing experience, including winning 2 Six Nations Championships and competing in 2 World Cups (2010 and 2014). Gill also works at a Performance Analyst, which brings another level of rigour to her coaching and will only help improve our performance further.
Fi joins us with a focus on S&C, which is an area of development for the team to enable us to maximise our potential. Fi tallied 35 caps for England; her career highlights include winning 4 Six Nations Championships and silver in the World Cup 2010. It will be no surprise we will also be drawing on her expertise in the Backs division. Fi's involvement has already had an impact, especially with lockdown as a catalyst to focus our energy and efforts on our conditioning.
Fiona Pocock - "I've always heard good things about Henley Hawks, as a passionate group of players and as a tight club community. I'm thrilled to be involved this season and I hope I can make a difference and help take this squad to the next level."
Lesley O'Leary steps into Team Manager whilst Lizzie Day goes on maternity leave. It's been fantastic to involve Les in an official capacity as she's always been a big supporter of the women’s team. Hannah Stewart will lead on the medical front and Richard Alred continues his great work filming games.
Olivia Perry, Director of Women's Rugby - "I feel lucky and grateful to have such a special and unique coaching team come together, and I'm excited to see what will be achieved this season. The progress made already through lockdown has been immense, and has built some strong foundations to do great things with the team. These will not only benefit the current squad, but structures are being put in to place that will be used by many players to come. We want to be continue attracting young talented players, so we can play our part in helping them through the pathway and reaching their potential."
We wait patiently for the season start and format to be announced, but we are using the time productively under the RFU guidelines, developing our core skills, conditioning and getting to know each other as a team, both new coaches and players.