Former Harlequins scrum-half Nick Walshe has his sights firmly set on mirroring Warren Gatland’s success after the pair were the toast of the UK Coaching Awards in London.
The Kingston University graduate claimed the Performance Development Coach of the Year Award at a glittering ceremony in Marble Arch last week in front of Gatland and the likes of four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie.
British & Irish Lions and Wales head coach Gatland enjoyed success himself on two fronts – winning the UK coach of the year and high performance coach of the year awards in the capital.
And after guiding England’s U20s to the IRB Junior World Championship title in the summer – beating Wales in the final with a team featuring young Quins Harry Sloan and Jack Clifford – 40-year-old Walshe insists his ambition will not stop there.
“I want to get up to where Warren is, I’d love to – that is the goal,” said Walshe, who played for Quins from 1995 to 1999.
“I know him a little from my playing days as he was coaching Wasps and I’d play against them.
“It was his 100th international Test as a coach when Wales played Tonga and he’s achieved everything with Wasps, winning Heineken Cups, Premierships, then Six Nations, Grand Slams and the Lions. He’s phenomenal.
“This is in the top three of my greatest achievements. I played for England, but I think winning the Junior World Cup in the summer was my biggest achievement, and this is reward for it – it’s right up there.”
Walshe was a nominee for one of 12 categories at the UK Coaching Awards, supported by Gillette, as achievements in developing sport in a wide community over the past year were recognised.
And, while admitting coaching is more stressful than anything he experienced when playing, Walshe believes the thrill of nurturing young talent is hard to beat.
“Seeing who you coach and what you coach coming to fruition is the most important thing,” he added.
“It’s hard because if you had a bad game as a player, you moved on, you got to training on Monday and you started again.
“As a coach you worry about it all weekend, you’ve got to go through it all and relive it all. It’s tough, but it’s massively rewarding.”
The 2013 Gillette Great Starts campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications. Applications for coaching grants available through the scheme will reopen in 2014, visit facebook/com/GilletteUK for details.