By Richard Sykes
The departure of Huddersfield RUFC’s backs coach Andre Snyman shortly after the start of the Covid crisis came as a disappointing blow to the Lockwood Park club.
Driven by developments brought on by the pandemic the former Springbok centre had decided to return to the USA where he used to live and coach rugby.
The subsequent cancellation of the entire 2020/21 National 2 North rugby season due to the virus however meant that a search for his replacement was put on hold until normality returned.
With national league rugby set to resume in September Huddersfield RUFC have acquired the services of Neil Ryan as their new backs and attack coach. The 47-year-old former fly-half comes with a very impressive rugby pedigree both as a player and a coach.
Ryan’s senior playing career began at Waterloo RUFC in 1992 after which there followed spells at the top level with Sale and Orrell and later on at West Park St Helens where he still assists with the Age Grade coaching.
In his younger days he was selected to play for England Schools at Under 16 and Under 18, England Under 21 and England Students. As a senior he enjoyed a four-year spell representing North of England and was picked to play for England A.
He is a Level 3 coach and was in charge of the Lancashire Under 15 and Under 16 teams from 2016 to 2019. He is still serving the county as the coach for the Academy and the backs coach for the Under 20 team which he helped steer to a Tier 2 national county title in 2018 and a Tier 1 Twickenham final in 2019.
At club level he was head coach at Southport RUFC from 2016 to 2019 and he worked for twelve months as director of rugby for the Firwood Waterloo women’s team. His coaching prowess has been recognised by his appointment as a Lancashire club coach mentor and a RFU All Schools casual coach.
Huddersfield RUFC head coach Gaz Lewis said: “I am delighted to have secured the services of such a high quality coach. Neil has a great track record of player development and has some great thoughts and ideas on how to shape our attack in the new season.”
Preparations for the new season at Lockwood Park are already underway with pre-season training due to commence in June. The arrival of an attack coach of Ryan’s calibre will no doubt prove a big attraction to prospective players.
Ryan is keen to hit the ground running and said: “I am really excited to be given the opportunity to join Huddersfield RUFC and to work closely with Gaz, the staff and players.
“Planning has already begun and I can’t wait to meet everyone at the club. As a coach I am looking forward to working with a talented group of players, challenging them to become even better and to always be a threat.”
Neil Ryan works as the marketing and commercial manager for SHL Solicitors in Merseyside and lives near St Helens with his wife Catherine and children Eve, 13, and 11-year-old Noah.