Scots online rugby coaching business has taken off

Mark Cairns: Business success. Picture: TSPL
Mark Cairns: Business success. Picture: TSPL
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WHEN former Scotland centre Ben Cairns took over the coaching role at Currie at the start of the season he had to do so without the considerable help of his brother. Mark Cairns was a very useful flanker for Currie, he won five club international caps, two as captain, and played sevens for Scotland.

Just 31 years old, Cairns senior has retired from all serious rugby because his online coaching business, Coach Logic, has taken off. He and former Malleny colleague Andy Muir started the business only a year or so back, but already Cairns has quit rugby and downgraded his day job at George Watsons to a part-time role.

Relying upon word of mouth and with the marketing budget stretching to an Americano at Starbucks (for which thanks very much), the pair have already sold just shy of 300 licences for their software in the first year of trading.

Clubs as diverse as the Hong Kong Rugby Union, West Ham’s academy, London Scottish amateur rugby, English handball winners London GD and Australian champions YM Hockey, have all signed up. So far three Edinburgh schools have put their cross on the dotted line with Merchiston Castle and Stewart’s Melville joining Cairns’ own outfit George Watsons.

The SRU has paid the license for all ten BT Premiership outfits and another half dozen clubs in the lower leagues also use the equipment. So what, exactly, are they paying their money for?

The site works on several different levels. The starter software (£350) offers clubs a useful management tool whereby coaches can liaise with players, find out who is available, otherwise engaged or injured and, if the latter, for how long. Coaches, players, administrators and even physios can all add data to the site. Gym programmes can be allocated and they have 180 exercises, every one of which is linked to a YouTube video showing less experienced players exactly what is required. A message board is reinforced by e-mails and match/training videos can be watched and evaluated by all concerned.

In a bid to boost the club game, the SRU has paid for all BT Premiership matches to be videoed and every game is now available, ready tagged, online by Sunday morning. It’s a huge help for all the coaches involved and a handy monitoring tool for the SRU.

“We wanted to produce something that produces smarter players,” says Cairns, emphasising that his software is appropriate for a vast variety of sports. “We are just at the phase of development where we make money but we spend it on improving the product.

“One year ago I’d have said that it was more suited to the aspiring amateur club rather than a fully professional outfit, but we have added extra levels to the software. The first adds the use of some top end analysis software and the final level allows coaches/players to tag matches on an individual basis. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh pro teams will be using our system from the start of next year, so I believe that it caters for a range of abilities.”

Cairns is the more technically minded of the two, while Muir is the salesman and he chips in with his own pitch.

“When I was playing,” says the former Currie centre, “I reckoned that there were only two ways you got better at sport. One was by playing it and the other was watching yourself playing it. Our system allows you to do the latter very easily.”

The business is very much in its formative years and already there is one spin-off with Sport Scotland who are utilising two sites developed by the Currie duo called, “Coach Connect” and “Coach Talent” to help older, experienced coaches mentor younger ones.

“There is a lot of big data shoved down players’ throats,” says Cairns, trying to explain the company philosophy, “but it very often doesn’t tell you anything. If you missed three tackles you don’t know why, which is what you can see from the video. If you can get players to sit down and tag their own video footage that is a huge learning process.”

The basic software is available on a free 30-day trial basis, before shelling out any money (or credit card details), and if it sounds like I am on ten per cent of all sales . . . I only wish it were true!