Owen Salmon, currently on deployment in Afghanistan, has been named as the Navy Rugby’s new head coach for the Senior XV. He fill the vacancy left by the departure of Ash Coates due to professional commitments. I will be writing an article on Ash next month but until then here are some details of Owen’s Navy Rugby apprenticeship.
Owen’s playing and coaching CV are equally impressive. On the playing side he was unfortunate to play scrum half. He is one of a number of talented scrum halves whose opportunities in the Senior shirt have been limited by current Navy captain Dave Pascoe. Owen won two caps, both against the Army at Twickenham and became the 613th player to represent the Royal Navy Rugby Union. After winning his second cap in 2003 he was selected for the 2003 Commonwealth Cup side for the successful defence in New Zealand. Probably his last notable performance on the rugby field was during the emotional evening in Glasgow when a Navy Select XV played Glasgow Hawks in memory of fly half Craig Hodgkinson. Owen, ever the poacher snaffled the third and final of the Navy’s tries.
His coaching career was initially nurtured by HMS Heron and the Naval Air Command where he soon achieved Navy Cup and Inverdale Cup success. As just reward for consistent praise from a number of the Navy’s senior players he was invited to join the U23 coaching team and along with Doc Cox coached the 2007 side to Inter Service victory. The first time the RN had been
successful for over twenty years. With Doc standing down Owen took on the role of Head Coach and was responsible for developing a number of the Navies future stars. To ease they transition into the Senior XV set up Owen was invited to join the staff as young player’s mentor and quickly progressed to a fully integrated member of the coaching team. In 2008 in his first month with the senior’s he was pitch side when they produced their only ever away win in France.
Owen was never prepared to rest on his laurels and throughout the 2009/2010 season studied for his RFU Level III coaches award, under respected RFU Tutor Tony Robinson. He celebrated his very good pass at Twickenham as part of the Navy squad that achieved Inter Service success in 2010. With a number of changes recently in the Senior XV set up Owen gradually took on more responsibility and when Ash Coates took on the mantel of Head Coach, Owen was at his side as a key member of the tight knit coaching team.
Even though currently deployed Owen has continued his coaching development by undertaking a number of projects to further his knowledge. He is currently working with a senior club as a consultant analyst thanks to the ever improving connectivity of the modern operational world. Though he has a tough act to follow, and there will be more on Ash next month, I am sure that Owen will be using the rest of his time away to get some early planning in, so that on his return he hits the ground running.
His elevation is a good appointment for Navy Rugby and I wish him the best of luck for the coming season.