We caught up with Carl Hayman, director of Everything4Rugby, former Champions Cup winning captain at Toulon and 44 times capped All Black, to find out a little bit about himself and why he has such a passion for grassroots rugby.
Tell us a bit about your involvement in Everything 4 Rugby?
I’ve known Tom (May) for quite some time from when we were playing together at Newcastle and it was then that I was first made aware of what Tom was doing. Grassroots rugby sometimes doesn’t get the time and attention it deserves from the unions and so I was an admirer of Tom's passion for the game.
Meeting Tom there and seeing his ideas, combined with my own passion for grassroots rugby, made me realise it was something I should get involved in.
When I was in Newcastle I spent two years out at Blythe RFC coaching the team, who at the time were in the Northumberland third division. The characters you meet, make you realise how important the grassroots of sport is and that it really does provide the bedrock.
It must have been special for them being coached by yourself for two seasons. There can’t be many pros who give up their time like that?
Yeah it was but to be honest it was special for me as well to get out and be involved in a rugby club. It reminded me of my old club back home, called Southern.
It’s great to meet the different characters you get in a rugby club and experience the different atmospheres. Blythe got a lot out of it but I got a lot out of it as well. It’s really satisfying to be able to put something back into the game at a grassroots level.
You've got a pretty unique insight into different rugby cultures across the world - can you tell us the main differences between how things are done in New Zealand, England and France? Apart from the weird French warm-ups.
Yeah I’m pretty fortunate to have an insight in to three different rugby cultures.
If there is one main difference:
New Zealand are the world leaders in terms of innovation, with what they’re doing off the field as well as on the field. The framework over there supports the individual as well as the team.
England are also very strong in that area but France are a bit behind and stuck with an old mentality of, “This is how we used to do things so we’re going to keep doing them that way”.
New Zealand and England on the other hand, are definitely trying to improve and challenge what they do so they have a better rugby team at the end of the day. That’s how I’d sum up the differences.
Additionally, the French have a tendency to fly of the handle; it’s all about the passion and intensity instead of structure or game-plans. Thus, i'd say the culture is very different in France and it’s been very interesting experiencing all the different environments and see how every country has a slightly different way of doing things.
I think the approach New Zealand and England have is borne out in the consistency they have.
How do New Zealand manage to remain ahead of the game year after year? What is their magic formula, in this era when every country has access to the same knowledge and infra-structure?
A big key difference is that everyone is centrally contacted, so the Union has control over how the franchises are run! Obviously that differs slightly in that not every franchise is run exactly the same, but in principle it is similar across the country.
They have the ability to control player load and how the players are managed. E.g. if you have a player that has played a lot and needs a two or three week break to do some conditioning and refresh himself the union has the power to decide that that's what is best for the player. That’s one difference…
Also, they are constantly trying to push the envelope in terms of how they are trying to evolve.
Like anything, if you sit around and keep doing the same thing, eventually someone is going to over take you. They’re always trying to better themselves and improve the way they are trying to do things.
The Allblacks are good at thinking outside the box. And not always just in rugby terms. They look at other sports and try to take aspects from them that could give them a little bit of an edge.
It must be easier down in the sunny south of France than soggy Newcastle?
Yes, it’s definitely easier in the Cote d’Azur – it’s good for the arthritis and any joint problems getting the sun on them.
Do you feel settled in the south of France or are you starting to feel New Zealand calling you home? The test is, have you started dipping baguette into hot chocolate for breakfast yet?
It changes form week to week. I do feel settled in France, this is my fifth season here so I’ve integrated myself well and have a good understanding of the language, which really helps. So yeah, I’m quite happy here at the moment.
Obviously you miss your family and friends back in NZ but at the moment I’m loving the opportunity to play rugby in a nice part of the world and for a good team.
No real plans to head back as yet but we’ll just see what happens.
Any thoughts on the Rugby Championship coming up? Looks like it's going to be a good one this year.
I think everyone's eyes will be on Australia and how they can carry on the success of the Waratahs and have some success against the All Blacks in particular. There are a lot of guys at our club who will have a close eye on them. There is always a good bit of ribbing between Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell in particular.
Do you get any pangs when you watch those games? Have you ever been close to considering a comeback, like all the South African guys are doing?
I don’t think that’s going to happen at this stage in my career. Possibly at the end of my career there may be a possibility to go and play some ITM Cup with my club team. But in a professional sense, no. If they opened the door and if I was playing well enough and they thought I could help out the All Blacks then of course I’d jump at the chance.
Rugby fans love this stuff-who benches and squats the most at Toulon and how much?
Andrew Sheridan – not sure what his numbers are but he’s got his own little corner in the gym that he claims for himself and every time you walk in there, there’s that many weights stacked on the bar that most guys get tired just looking at it.
Craig Burden is a very strong guy – for a front squat he does around 160KG.
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