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Former Leicester Tigers, London Welsh, Bristol Bears and Bath player Will Hurrell is the new head coach of Oakham Rugby Club

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A professional rugby player who was forced into early retirement after a serious head injury has been appointed as the new head coach at Oakham.

Will Hurrell is hoping that his career with Leicester Tigers, London Welsh, Bristol Bears and Bath will help bring an exciting brand of rugby to the Rutland club and raise the profile of the Showground side ahead of their Midlands 2 East (South) campaign.

The 31-year-old's arrival was sparked by a close friendship with Oakham first team player Peter Rawlins after the duo both studied at university together.

New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell (50825194)
New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell (50825194)

Hurrell explained: "I have known him for a long time and I came down to watch a Six Nations event at the club.

"We had a really good crack. I have had a couple of coaching roles since retiring and he suggested that I come down and put on some sessions for the boys.

"We did that and everything went really well. There was such a really good atmosphere and both sides were keen and it was all sorted out from there.

"I have obviously had to finish playing early but I am very keen. I am still developing my coaching but it is now my primary focus.

"I have brought stuff in that I am hoping will carry on for a long time with things where you can see the team grow and in a sustainable way by developing people as opposed to chucking a load of cash at it.

"I want to get everyone a better understanding of the game by coming in and working hard and developing them as well as having a good crack off the pitch.

New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell with Alun Meadows and first team skipper Ryan Corner.
New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell with Alun Meadows and first team skipper Ryan Corner.

"We need to have both sides of it and to make it enjoyable so the boys are feeling like they're getting stuff out of it."

Hurrell will continue to work alongside joint director of rugby Alun Meadows who had led the Rutlanders to promotion two seasons ago before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed their campaign last year.

They start their league season on Saturday, September 25, with a trip to Northampton Mens Own in their first season back in Midlands 2 East (South).

Hurrell added: "I have got a load of stuff coming from a Premiership level which I know works, but I am new and still learning.

"Myself and Alun are developing as coaches all the time and he has been really good for me.

"We are both supporting each other and working together well and we're starting to see some really good traction with what we're doing.

"I am going to be really interested to see our first friendly game because the boys have taken to everything really well.

"It's going to be exciting because there is a bit of a buzz around the club and I'm just pumped to see what happens.

"I have absolutely loved it and I am really excited. It's been really enjoyable.

New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell with first team skipper Ryan Corner.
New Oakham Rugby Club head coach Will Hurrell with first team skipper Ryan Corner.

"We have brought some ideas in and I'm hoping that will add a bit more to our game.

"We will still have the attritional, physical and high work-rate but I want us to go out and play some really good rugby as well.

"I want to create a buzz around the town so that people will come and watch and be excited to see games.

"My goal is for everyone to enjoy themselves and grow as people on and off the pitch."

Hurrell had a brief spell as part of the coaching team at Plymouth Albion last season after announcing his retirement on medical advice in April of last year.

He had been playing for Bristol against his former club Leicester when he took a heavy hit that sent him crashing to the ground.

Despite continuing for the next 30 minutes, Hurrell was struggling to stand after the game and was rushed to hospital and further tests over the next month revealed that he had suffered a serious brain bleed and a stroke.

It left Hurrell looking at possible paralysis and memory loss if he sustained another blow to the head while playing which left him with little choice but to end his playing career and he is now looking at turning his passion for the game into coaching.

He continued: "I was always planning to go into coaching and, although I had other offers from different areas of the game, I want that involvement and buzz of being in with a team.

"I am a hugely competitive person and I just know that it is for me. I am doing some leadership and mental well-being coaching alongside it as well which is really good.

"I have got lots of stuff going on which is all really exciting. I was full-on into playing and that was everything but now I've obviously got all these new challenges starting which is really exciting."

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