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Tom Hudson is loving life as coach of Cheltenham Tigers’ women’s team

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 22nd December 2017, 09:00

Gloucester full-back Tom Hudson is living the dream. 

 The 23-year-old has played a key role as Gloucester have established themselves in the upper reaches of the Premiership in recent weeks and while that is clearly his priority he has plenty else going on in his rugby life as well.

You see, he is also coach of Cheltenham Tigers’ women’s team and he is absolutely loving every minute of it. When he’s not thinking about Gloucester and his own game, he’s consumed by the women’s team that have come on in leaps and bounds in recent times.

He took over in the summer after Matty Protherough left Gloucester for Bristol and he’s being assisted by his team-mate, friend and flatmate Charlie Beckett.

Now in his second season with Gloucester – Hudson's good form has recently earned him a new contract – he told The Local Answer: “I’ve always been interested in coaching but when I first came to Gloucester I thought I’d just concentrate on my rugby.

“Then this opportunity came along and it ticked all the boxes. It was such an exciting challenge. Matty Protherough had told me about this group of girls who just wanted to learn and get better.

“I hadn’t thought about it before but with Tom Lindsay joining Bedford, the team needed a forwards coach as well and Charlie was the obvious choice. We haven’t looked back.”

And Hudson hasn’t just been impressed by the girls’ enthusiasm.

“I didn’t think they’d have such a good understanding of the game,” he admitted. “Their skill set is very good and they love their rugby.

“When they’re not playing they’re watching rugby. They’ll come and watch Gloucester and they’ll always watch the England games on TV… and they’ll always have a beer in their hand!”

Cheltenham have shown up well in Championship South so far this season and earlier in the campaign beat Thurrock for the first time.

And while Hudson’s knowledge and enthusiasm has obviously worked wonders for them, he is quick to acknowledge what they have done for them.

“They have helped me improve my game, absolutely,” he said. “I’ve noticed I’ve got better because of the work I’m doing with the girls.

“It’s given me a good work/social life balance and I’ve met loads of new people. I absolutely love it. And because I’m now a coach myself, I know what the coaches at Gloucester want from me.”

Such is his enthusiasm for all things coaching that it’s certainly something he’d like to continue when his playing career is over.

“If you’d asked me that question six months ago I’d have said it’s not anything I’d thought about,” he said. “Ask me now and I’d say ‘absolutely’. Ask me in six months’ time and I’m sure I’d bite your hand off.”

His playing career has still got many years to run of course – hopefully with Gloucester – but while nothing is too certain at the top levels of any sport, Hudson is convinced that women’s rugby is only going to get bigger and bigger.

“I believe in the next two or three years women’s rugby will go through the roof,” he said. “Just look at the success of the recent World Cup.”

And if that does happen Cheltenham will certainly want to be on that sweet chariot.

“The girls at Cheltenham want to play at the highest level that they can,” Hudson added. “There is no promotion out of their division for the next couple of seasons but even if they stay in the same division they will be playing at a higher standard than now.

“It’s about goalsetting. It’s very much about having fun while playing at the best level possible.”

And it’s not just Hudson and Beckett who are passing on their knowledge to the women.

Gloucester youngsters Henry Walker, a hooker, and scrum-half Harry Randall are also regulars at The Newlands on training nights.

Hudson is proud of the fact that either he or Beckett have seen pretty much every game that the women have played this season.

They play most of their games on Sundays although that is something that may change in the near future.

“The girls want to play on Saturdays so that they can have a beer on Saturday night,” laughed Hudson.

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