• Meet Steve Loder, the new coach for the new Pro:Direct Rugby Academy at South Devon College

26th October 2020

South Devon College is continuing its growth providing exceptional facilities and opportunity for those that see sports, sports science, and fitness as their long-term career. Off the back of an incredibly successful few years, the College will extend its exceptional football coaching and provision through Pro:Direct to the equally beautiful game of rugby with the all new Rugby Academy.

But a new Academy means a new coach and who better to take charge of the Rugby Academy than Steve Loder.

The majority of Steve’s life has been living and breathing rugby, playing the sport from the age of four for Newton Abbot Rugby Club all through his junior years up until he was 16 years old.

After receiving an invite to take up a rugby scholarship at Bryanston, a boarding school in Dorset, Steve spent his sixth-form years there representing the county and the South West.

Following this he moved to London to go to university at Brunel in 1999 where he also played for Richmond. Then after 20 years of solidly playing rugby, he took a break to go travelling and lived in New Zealand for a while.

He then came back to Newton Abbot Rugby Club where he played and coached, taking over the girls’ team at Newton Abbot and led them for three seasons, two of which were unbeaten. This resulted in being nominated for the Guinness Premiership Rugby award as team of the year. Steve then moved onto the seniors at Newton Abbot Rugby Club which brings him to where he is now here at South Devon College.

With a clear picture painted about how Steve’s life has been predominantly based around rugby, we chatted to find out a bit more about what brought him to the College.

What inspired you to start teaching?

“My mum’s a swimming teacher and my sister’s a nanny, so I’ve naturally always enjoyed working with kids. I’ve been in the same places as the boys I’m teaching now at 16-18, making decisions about life, your sport and rugby; all big decisions to make. So, I wanted help these guys having been through the system before myself and knowing how it works so I can send them on the right path and develop them as much as I can, whether they go on to playing, coaching or managing in a team.”

What do you do outside of teaching at the College?

“I’m still playing a part at Newton Abbot Rugby Club. Continuing to coach the team of girls and also play alongside the other seniors at the club and it’s something that I hope can potentially have a bit of a join up in the future.”

What your plans and ambitions for the new Pro:Direct Rugby Academy?

“This first year is obviously a difficult year with everything that has been going on. So, it’s going to be a case of building the numbers up over this first year. Then the second year is really going to be aimed at taking on a lot of the local talent in the Torbay and Teignbridge area.

“With the facilities and coaching staff we have at the College and the players I’ve played with I’ve secured a couple of high-class coaches to come in to do coaching sessions as well, one of which is from Exeter Chiefs that won the premiership, and also the current captain of Plymouth Albion is going to do a session.

“As it builds and word gets around, we can involve more of these people and make it more of an experience for students. I can teach them a lot but it’s great for them to hear it from others as it affirms everything they learn.”

With your experience of coaching girls, is this something that is being developed here too?

“There is a huge demand for girls rugby yet not a lot of opportunity for it so it’s something we are looking to develop but that’s something that will happen when we have a much clearer idea of interest and knowing how many are interested in signing up.

“Even if I can get 7 girls together, we could play 7’s rugby against other schools and colleges but it’s just about getting that interest and then following with the next year of student intake, if there’s then 10 girls that join the next year we would then have a full side between the two years of students. I’m certainly looking to include the girls in this as much as possible so anyone interested should get in touch.”

What’s your biggest achievement or milestone?

“My rugby scholarship was definitely my biggest achievement in my rugby journey. Being recognised and playing for the county was a big thing.

“I got a phone call from my parents saying that I had to come home and see them, I thought I was in a world of trouble. They turned around and said ‘We’ve just had a phone call. How would you like to go to Bryanston?’ I knew it was a top boarding school, so I was taken back by how I managed to get the opportunity.

“Getting there and driving up the two-mile driveway to the school and it looking like Buckingham Palace, I thought what on earth am I doing here?

“I met all the rest of the rugby lads on the first night, we did a bleep test, we bonded and got to know each other and when you’re living with these guys, they really do become family. So the quality of rugby we played was great, we had four or five internationals on our side, everyone was a county player, the facilities and coaching was great, we ended up going on a tour to Australia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The opportunities and experience it gave me was incredible and set me up really well for going on to university.”

Anything else in the works at the moment?

“Like I said, this first year is difficult because of everything that’s going on and I’ve also come in at a time where students may have already decided on what they’re studying. But with the numbers that are interested so far, I’m hoping this first season we can put the groundwork in early and have that core group, building on that for the next season and from there planning more as it grows.

“Anyone that’s interested, get in touch with us as we’d love to chat about how this would be perfect for you.”

The College are proud to attract such experienced and successful sports personalities to become part of the teaching team that share their extensive knowledge with students across the vast range of courses on offer. Steve Loder will prove to be a great asset and reason to come and study at the College, especially if you’re looking for the next step in your rugby journey.

If you’re interested in studying with the Pro:Direct Rugby Academy at South Devon College, discover what options there are at southdevon.ac.uk. For more information, contact the College Helpzone team by emailing enquiries@southdevon.ac.uk or call 08000 380 123.

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