St Joseph’s College has come out fighting with the latest addition to its crack team of sports staff. In its determination to regain and retain its position as the preeminent school for sport in the East of England, the College has appointed Rowland Winter to the position of Director of Rugby from September 2022.
Mr Winter has moved away from championship rugby management to focus on a career in education. He will bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and connections to St Joseph’s.
‘I am excited about the investment that St Joseph’s are making into the sporting provision at the school, in particular the ambition and scope to further expand the rugby programme. It is an exciting time to be joining and I am looking forward to getting started and playing my part in the future of the school,’ he said.
Appointed Director of Rugby for Coventry RFC in 2016, Mr Winter transformed the club, bringing it into a new era of professionalism, and guiding it to the National League One title in 2018 and a return to the Championship. During his six years with Coventry, he restructured the club’s Academy and evolved the playing and support staff to a fully professional standard, with multiple players progressing to Premiership and international honours under his leadership.
Prior to Mr Winter’s appointment at Coventry, he held various roles in professional, academy and community rugby. As Director of Rugby of Cambridge RFC, he led the club to win National League 2 in 2016, whilst concurrently heading up the coaching of the Northampton Saints AASE Academy partnership with Moulton College.
Mr Winter has also spent time working with the RFU as a coach educator and directing aspects of the England U20 Divisional and England Counties programme as selector and coach.
Having begun his career in a community coaching role for Northampton Saints, his success has been truly outstanding. Mr O’Riordan, Director of Sport & Business Development at St Joseph’s College, commented, ‘I am genuinely thrilled and very proud to have Rowland join ‘teamstjos’. His phenomenal career progression from relatively humble beginnings fills me with confidence that he has the vision and drive to cater for all rugby playing students at St Joseph’s. I have no doubt that rugby will once again be a driving force for our community. We are delighted to have Rowland on board and are looking forward to welcoming him, his wife and their three daughters and son to our campus.’
The College has recently undergone a review of its sports operation. The new structure also includes the appointment of Mr James Ingle as Deputy Director of Sport. Mr Ingle joins from RGS Newcastle and is a former Northampton Saints Number 8. He will support Mr O’Riordan in realising the College’s ambition to be the premier independent school for female and male team sport in East Anglia, whilst ensuring St Jo’s cements its position as the No 1 institution for rugby and dual career development in the region and beyond, in line with its Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme accreditation.
Mr Winter and the St Jo’s rugby playing community will also be supported by Mr Lee Soper, the school’s new full-time rugby coaching professional. He will work across the College to support the coaching staff in developing student athletes and assist the new Director of Rugby in pushing forward the College’s claims. The school is confident that excellent foundations have already been laid from which to soar back to the very pinnacle of school rugby.
Mr Soper brings a wealth of rugby experience and from lessons learnt during a 25-year career as an airborne soldier. His military career allowed him professional sport secondments to Harlequins, Worcester and Cornish Pirates and London Scottish at various times. He has also served as Head Forwards Coach of Army Rugby and Army U23s and the Head Coach for the UK Armed Forces Rugby Union for the Inter-Services World Cup in Japan 2019.
There are also changes in the offing at St Joseph’s College Prep School, where Mr Fred Wenham (formerly of Woodhouse Grove and Uppingham Schools) comes in as Head of Prep Sport. He is set to strengthen the provision of Sport and PE for St Joseph’s youngest pupils, making the school the place to be for all active girls and boys as well as talented and enthusiastic young athletes.