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UWTSD appoints Rugby Coordinator and Netball Coordinator to join the Academy of Sport

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David has appointed new staff members to join the Academy of Sport.

The UWTSD Academy of Sport aims to support students involved in high performance sport to maintain and develop their performance. Students will have access to the expertise of the University’s sports, health and fitness team which will provide a programme of activities to assist them to reach their sports goals. These will include coaching for technical and skills training, strength and conditioning, nutrition and diet, sports therapy as well as lifestyle management.

Gareth Potter will be joining the Academy of Sport as a Rugby Coordinator, whilst Hannah Poole will be joining as a Netball Coordinator.

Gareth has 30 years experience of working within the rugby sector in Wales. Much of his initial experience was within the field of Performance Analysis where he set up the first PA consultancy company in Wales which grew into a thriving business for over twenty years.

A former player for his home side Ammanford RFC for 15 years, he also played for the first team at Cardiff Met for 3 years and was a member of the Welsh Under 20s squad and Welsh Under 23 Squad. He became Head Coach at Ammanford and was asked to coach with the Scarlets Academy. He spent twelve successful years there as the Regional Analyst and latterly as the kicking coach. Here he continued to have exposure to some of the best rugby people around including Phil Davies, now Director of World Rugby, and learnt how to introduce systems and processes to a rugby environment both on and off the field. His links with the regional set-up more recently were as a coach to the Scarlets Under 18s.

He has developed and widened his own coaching experience whilst at semi-professional Premiership club Llandovery RFC, initially specialising in defence and skills before moving to the attacking game over the last couple of years.

Over the last 8 years, Gareth has been employed at two secondary schools within the region as a WRU officer, where the nurturing and development of the local rugby talent has been paramount. Over this period, both schools and their Dewar Shield district, Mynydd Mawr and Dinefwr, have produced an increasing number of players into the Scarlets Age Grade system, the Academy and, subsequently, senior regional squads.

Whilst at Dyffryn Aman and Maes y Gwendraeth he worked hard to develop girls’ rugby, and both schools have produced a host of regional and national 15 a side and 7 a-side internationals, two of which participated at the recent World Cup in New Zealand.

Gareth said:

“This is a hugely exciting challenge. I still have a strong desire to coach at the highest possible level and be hands-on, but I also thrive in the off-field preparation such as creating skill development programmes for all players and spending time with younger talent, talking about their performances, their well-being and their aspirations.

“I feel my recent experience in education and sport will help me provide support to the students at the University as they make the transition from school/college rugby through to senior rugby. Additionally, my experience in working with some of the best coaches in the world has given me great benefits in providing feedback to assist in the growth of the player.”

Having lived in West Wales all his life and being a fluent Welsh-speaker, he understands the role that rugby plays within the community in providing an outlet and an aspiration for the younger generation and is thrilled to be undertaking the new role.

Hannah joins the Academy of Sport with a background of working within sports development and performance sport for several years.

She achieved her degree in Education Studies Sport and Physical Activities at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. Fluent in both English and Welsh languages Hannah went on to gain many coaching qualifications including UKCC Level 2 in Netball coaching and an Award in Delivering and Learning (ADL) which has allowed her to tutor coaching courses. She has delivered courses for Welsh Netball which included the netball leaders coaching award and the introduction to umpiring while also a mentor for new tutors for the courses to progress the workforce.

During the summer of 2022, she also trained to tutor the Welsh Athletics Starting Blocs course which will be delivered across Wales to Clubs and local authorities. Her most recent position has been with Welsh Athletics, and within this role she helped and supported the development officers with summer camps, helped the team with summer activities during the recent Commonwealth games and provided support to the competitions team.

Hannah is also a Healthy Communities Early Years Officer for Freedom Leisure in Swansea where her role is to develop a programme of activities for adults from pregnancy to pre-school children.

Looking forward to starting her role, Hannah said: “‘I’m hugely excited about this role and the opportunity to push Netball at UWTSD. I’m passionate about the sport and giving an opportunity to the students is something that I’m really looking forward to.”

Lee Tregoning Head of the UWTSD Academy of Sport adds: “We are delighted to secure and welcome people of Gareth and Hannah’s calibre, experience and passion for their respective sports to the UWTSD Academy of Sport. They join an impressive staff, and our rugby and netball student athletes will instantly see the benefits of having exposure to them on a daily basis.