In case you missed it Justin Fitzpatrick will be making the coaching move from the Seattle Saracens to the Houston Strikers in the summer. It's a big move for both Fitzpatrick and the Strikers. To find out more about why he made the move and his plans we chatted with Fitzpatrick.
TIAR: You've been with the Saracens for the last four years and have led them to a lot of success. What made you want to take the new challenge?
Justin Fitzpatrick: I have throughly enjoyed my time with the Seattle Saracens its is a great city and is a superb club. I cannot speak highly enough of the players, management, and especially club President Kevin Flynn. However after 4 years in charge I felt the time was right for a change and a new challenge.
TIAR: What drew you specifically to the Strikers?
JF: I was very impressed with the people and the vision of the Strikers, it's people in my opinion that make organizations and I feel the Strikers have quality people with a clear vision and expertise to action that vision and i'm incredibly excited to be part of the Strikers organization and rugby in Houston.
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TIAR: The scrum is obviously a big part of your coaching experience. What do you think is the key part of the scrum for Americans who pick up the game later?
JF: Anyone that knows me knows I love a good scrum... I feel that individual understanding of what a good body position looks and feels like and understanding the key factors to get into and maintain that position are paramount. From that basis the scrum can be built outwards and specific game day strategies for different opponents can be constructed.
TIAR: Now having coached in Europe and America for a number of years what are the key differences in the two cultures?
JF: I think the main difference is clarity on pathway to the National team while there are different entry points on the pathway to becoming an Irish International, the pathway is clear and apparent. In the US that is not as clear cut yet. While good strides have been made over the last few years to tidy this process up with different partners and organizations, it still has some work to do. I feel that what the Strikers and other Major League Rugby teams are and will be doing in the future will compliment the existing structures for player identifications and development and rugby as a whole and the National team will be the beneficiaries.
TIAR: Are you as optimistic about American rugby now as you were when you first came over?
JF: I remain very optimistic about American rugby. I do believe that the game has improved over the last four years. What we have to remain aware of is that we as a country have challenges that outside of our Canadian friends to the north, no other rugby nation has to deal with in terms of the size of the country and with that the distances, costs and weather challenges that come with such a vast country. I believe that well run professional component at the top of the rugby pyramid with tangible links into each of its local and regional communities will help grow and compliment the good work that already goes on locally, regionally and nationally and the Houston Strikers and myself are committed to doing our part.