After four successful years with the Students, Robert Taylor, will be departing SUFC at the end of the month to take up the role of Attack Coach with the English Premiership side, Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Robert joined SUFC at the end of 2015 to become the 1st Colts Head Coach and Colts Programme Manager, under his guidance 1st Colts won 42 games straight, the Colts group won back-to-back Colts Club Championships, as well as winning four out of the six Colts premierships available between 2016-2017.
In 2018, Robert was promoted to Head Coach where he led 1st Grade to the Shute Shield Premiership for the first time since 2013, they also claimed the Minor Premiership and had the best attack and defence record in the comp. In 2019, with Robert at the helm, 1ST Grade had repeated success by winning the Minor Premiership and Shute Shield again, the Club also celebrated one of its most successful seasons in history, with 5 Premierships, 3 Minor Premierships, the Club Championship for the 16th consecutive year and topped it off with the Australian Club Championship victory earlier this year. After four seasons, his winning average at SUFC is 87% having won 74 games from 83 matches.
His success rate speaks for itself, however it’s his eye for talent, his vision of the game and belief in the playing group which gets him those results. During his time at SUFC, he has been influential in the development of players and maximising their talents, when Robert took over as Head Coach, he backed the players he had coached in Colts to step up to Grade footy, with an average age of 22 the young side silenced the critics, who would go on to win every trophy available over the next two seasons. With Robert’s development, 14 players have signed their first professional contract in the past two years.
Robert leaves the Club having successful created a player led environment that empowers every individual accountable for their actions, ensuring everyone is striving to become their best versions of themselves both on and off the field.
Executive General Manager, David Haigh commented on the departure, ‘We are incredibly proud of Rob’s achievements at the Club and his team’s results speak for themselves. Rob’s work ethic and his passion for teaching a strong understanding of the game sets him apart from his peers. His players trusted him and his vision deeply, they always took the field with a desire to play for him – this must be any coach’s ultimate success.”
We are also proud of the role the Club have played in Rob’s development and are thrilled he has been rewarded with an opportunity at the professional level. Rob follows in the footsteps of past SUFC Head Coaches Billy Millard (Cardiff Blues), Damien Hill (Melbourne Rebels) and Chris Malone (NSW Waratahs and Wallabies), amongst others, who have developed their coaching skills at the Club before taking their opportunities at professional franchises. The Club is as passionate in developing our coaches and administrators as it is in developing our players. We wish Rob all the best for what we know will be a successful coaching career."
SUFC and Leicester Tigers have formed a close connection over the past few years, with both Clubs providing opportunities to the other. Last season, Tigers’ Academy players, James Whitcombe and Sam Eveleigh spent 3 months in Sydney playing for the Students, James was part of the 1st Colts Premiership winning team and Sam was involved in 4th Grade’s Grand Final victory. SUFC Coaches, Joe Horn-Smith and James Caterson have both spent time with the Tigers on separate occasions in 2019, observing training, meeting staff and players as well as attending Club functions. Robert’s move strengthens the partnership further and we hope to see the relationship continue to grow in the future.
Robert had the following to say about his time at SUFC, “It is extremely hard to put into words how much the past four and a half years of being a ‘Student’ means to me. It has been one incredible ride of ups and downs, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I am extremely grateful for the phone call I received from David Mortimer back in 2015 and with the support of Tom Carter, Tim Davidson and Chris Malone they gave me the opportunity to come to SUFC, I’ll be forever indebted to them all.
Doning the Blue and Gold along with Tom Carter and Tim Davidson in a 2016 preseason trial match
I am grateful to have been able to work with so many passionate, talented and hardworking people both on and off the field, who make SUFC such a special place. SUFC success has not become what it is today because of one person or a small group of people, it truly is one big team with everyone putting in. Special mention to my assistant coach Joe Horn-Smith, who I have coached with since day one, we ultimately become one unit and his expertise in the set piece area ultimately allowed all the teams we coached to excel.
To the Supporters who I would class as my friends now and some who probably have been to every game since 2016, doing all they possible can to make our teams feel special, thank you for your unwavering support in the heat, cold, wet and at all corners of Sydney.
I will miss the players the most, the mateships, the darkness, a post-match beer, the different characters, the yarns and banter. They are the ones who did the real work, sacrificing their time and bodies. I owe you all. I look forward to hopefully speaking or having a beer/wine with all of you prior to departure. Up the Students!”
Please join us in congratulating Robert on his appointment, we wish him the best of luck in his new role with the Leicester Tigers.
The Club is working closely with Robert to ensure an extensive hand over is in place, and to find a suitable candidate to fill the role of Head Coach for the 2020 season and beyond.
Leicester Tigers press release -
2018 Shute Shield Premiers
2019 Shute Shield Premiers