Coach Chris has a clear vision for Haverfordwest Ladies

Chris Beggan Chris Beggan is a vet by profession but the softly-spoken Irishman has a sporting involvement that he thoroughly enjoys as he joins Gareth Charles as the coaches of the Ladies' team at Haverfordwest Rugby Club.
Chris takes charge of the set-piece activity for the senior team which is doing well in the First Division of the Welsh Ladies National League but also enjoys working with his female charges in learning the basic skills of the game when they join the squad; some of them as raw novices who have decided to play the game after taking part in other sports, with some having their first real experiences of a physical contact sport.

Great camaraderie amongst coaches and players

"We have a great camaraderie in the team and it is good to report that there is a real commitment to training sessions and in pre-match warm-ups," Chris told us, "where I just put out the cones for the respective drills and they just get on with things."
That might simplify the matter but there is no doubt that his style of quiet coaching pays off because the Lady Blues are holding their own in a good standard of female rugby - and in their most recent home match played host to a strong, table topping, Pencoed Phoenix side from the Bridgend area and came away with a deserved 47-26 result.

Hard work is paying off

It means that they will hold their status comfortably and whilst Chris (and Gareth!) are pleased with the way things are going they are looking for a good run in the Welsh Ladies Cup in which they will be pitched against all the other clubs, including the championship division.
"We reached the semi-final last campaign before losing out to top club Swansea and if we have a full squad for our cup games then we need fear no-one with players of the calibre of Awen Prysor, Nina Colville, Holly Couzens and the rest."

Introduction to rugby

Gaelic Football was the main sport in his area, with his cousin Gemma Begley, a superstar in the ladies' game who captained Tyrone for a number of years.
"I played a bit at school, as I could handle the physical side but to be honest the pace of the game was too much for me.
"When I went to the University of Liverpool I started to play rugby for the Vets' School, starting out as a tight-head prop and then switching to hooker.
"I was fortunate to play in a strong Vet/University team as I studied for my BSc before moving on to Edinburgh to become a vet - and in my time there I enjoyed playing for college.

Starting out as a ladies’ coach

"We played a good standard of rugby but in my final two years I was approached by the Vet School Ladies team, to become their coach.
"When appointed I learned a lot about previous coaching methods, which I decided to change to focus more on skill levels as well at the previous focus on physicality."
It clearly worked because Chris found himself with six or seven players at early training sessions but with some sensible recruitment and the word spreading around college about what was going on
"I took the coaching course offered by the Scottish Rugby Union and after that I joined the SRU's Women's Committee with the aim of encouraging clubs to set up and support more ladies’ teams.

Great support from Scottish Rugby Union

"After getting my coaching qualifications I was soon involved three times a week and we were doing well in the league as we had the likes of Emma Cairney, who eventually played at outside half in New Zealand ladies' rugby.
"The SRU invested in some terrific resources and things got even better when former ladies' international Dee Bradbury became the first Hon President of Scotland Rugby, who was hugely supportive of all that we were trying to do."

Chance introduction to Pembrokeshire Rugby

By coincidence, one of his players was a Welsh girl called Cari Prysor and when she learned that Chris was coming to Pembrokeshire after qualifying she mentioned that her sister Awen was playing for Haverfordwest.
He joined a veterinary practice in Narberth after being interviewed by Phillip Linge, also involved in the practice was Louisa Weinfield, who plays for Haverfordwest and the Scarlets' Ladies.
When he arrived in Pembrokeshire he was invited to start training the Haverfordwest Ladies squad alongside Gareth (Charles) and Ben John, who also did a great job but had to stand down because of other commitments.

"I have learned so much from Gareth and really enjoy working with such an experienced coach, I’ve probably learned as much from him as the ladies have," admitted Chris.

Great support from players

"My initial role was working with the scrum and general forward play - I was fortunate to have players of the quality of Awen, Nina Colville and Natalie Bowen leading the way in terms of experience.

Jo Price has been exceptional at outside half and I'm delighted that she is going to for her coaching qualifications because she is sure to be a great asset.

"We have added some quality players in Maria Phillips, Natasha Thomas and Emily Carrington alongside Ceri Coleman-Phillips and some youngsters who have ensured the age profile means there are now few players involved who are over 30.
"These include Holly Couzens and Sarah Lawrence, who is still qualified to play at prop in the under 18s but has been granted permission to play at senior level, as well as training with the Welsh Ladies as proof of the strides she has made. We are hoping to blood her in senior rugby soon

And finally . . .

Ask Chris about ambitions and he says that he really enjoys his role alongside Gareth and the girls as he focusses on the basic skills, including plenty of handling by everyone involved to keep the ball alive.
Last season was a transitional one but they did better than expected, and have continued that form into this season for a top-four place in the league.
"Our eventual aim would be to gain access to the top echelon of Welsh Rugby and building up junior squads so there is a constant feed of talents into our senior squad."
Chat to Chris Beggan for a short while, as we did, and it is easy to see his zeal for what he does in ladies' rugby and we wish this eager Irishman living in our county well - and we are in no doubt that Haverfordwest Ladies are on the right track with coaches of his calibre involved!