JOE and Jacob Ford have joined father Mike to create a rugby union coaching dynasty.
It is highly unusual – maybe unique – for three members of the same family to coach in the sport.Mike, a former head coach at Bath and defence coach for both England and Ireland, was this summer appointed attack coach at Leicester Tigers where he will be working with middle son George.
Joe, meanwhile, was recently appointed player/head coach of second tier side Yorkshire Carnegie for whom the 32-year-old have three previous spells as a player.
Jacob, the baby of the family at the age of 21, has been appointed coach at fourth tier Essex side Westcliffe having previously set up a rugby academy at Rishworth School and been a performance coach at Loughborough University.
The 2018-19 season was a busy one for Mike who had three jobs in the sport – having a key role in setting up the Dallas Griffins franchise which has been delayed joining Major League Rugby until January 2021, coaching Germany on a short-term contract as they attempted to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and acting as brought in as a consultant by Leicester Tigers as they fought relegation from the Premiership.
Mike, who is still acting as a consultant for the Griffins, is looking forward to trying to revive the fortunes of the under-achieving Tigers.
“We avoided relegation but finishing second last was not a very good season.
“In the last few years Tigers have slowly declined and we must roll up our sleeves and work hard to arrest it.
“Everyone expects Leicester to be in the Premiership final every year as they are a big club with fantastic support.
“Fans need to be realistic as we won’t do it in one season, especially as alot of players have left as we are creating a new philosophy.”
Though Mike has been predominantly a defence coach, he has no qualms about suddenly becoming an attacking one.
“I was a defence coach for 11 years, I was also attack coach at Bath for three of the four and a bit years there. I watched other side’s attack so that was a very good grounding,” he said.
Mike is looking ahead to the new season with optimism for Tigers who had a fruitful pre-season training camp in Portugal.
“We have a very good set of players and a good, tight management group so everything looks positive,” he continued.
Mike is no stranger with working with son George, 26, as the pair were together in a coach-player relationship at Bath.
Add to the mix at Bath and now Leicester is Oldhamer Kyle Eastmond, 29, who has also been capped by England before being plagued by injury.
Mike said: “I am looking forward to working with George and nobody knows him better than I do.
“George has a certain symmetry with Kyle which worked well at Bath and we would be daft not to use their skill sets.
“Kyle has had a good pre-season which is great for him. For Kyle to be happy he needs ball in hand and a fully fit Kyle is a great asset for any team
Mike describes it as a great opportunity for Joe to get on the coaching ladder after accepting the job at Carnegie, a club he knows well.
Joe was at Tigers last season where he was understudy to his younger brother when he was on international duty with England.
Mike explained that Jacob has always had a passion for coaching rather than playing.
He will combine his job at part-timers Westcliffe with a teaching job at Ipswich Boys School.
Mike added his sons are aware of the perils of the job having a father as a coach.
“It is an unforgiving job and a shock for a player when he becomes a coach. Unless you have a passion, I would advise don’t do it,” he said.
• If George and England reach the final of the Rugby World Cup, Mike will travel to Japan for the game.
Mike’s wife Sally-Anne will be going out earlier but he will not be able to because of his commitments with Leicester Tigers.
“If England get to the final and my son is playing, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am sure Leicester will let me go,” he said.
Mike believes England have the ability to go all the way.
He said: “After starting with Tonga and the USA in their group, they finish with Argentina and France.
“If we get it right in those games, we will go into the quarter-finals on fire with momentum on our side.
“The All Blacks will be favourites while South Africa have hit form. It will be a tough World Cup but I would not expect anything less.”