Big names from rugby and the wider world of sport have gathered in France this weekend for the 16th annual Guinness Six Nations coaching development conference.
The event sees the likes of Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards, Leinster coaches Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen as well as Gloucester Rugby and Chelsea FC sport psychologist Dave Collins share their experiences on the pressures, expectations, setbacks and learnings of high-performance coaching.
Over the weekend a range of talks, activities and Q&A’s will delve into the experience of coaching at the highest level with coaches from all six unions in attendance.
The Guinness Six Nations coaching development conference concept originated in April 2002 with the remit of developing coaches who are working with international players and potential international players.
It also looks to develop coaches who have the potential to become national coaches both at senior and age grade level and/or professional coaches at club level alongside challenging the high-performance coaches in the Guinness Six Nations to think across borders and cultures.
The conference additionally provides a vehicle for the interchange of technical expertise between Guinness Six Nations member unions and the encouragement of this outside the competitive parameters while providing a forum for research and the future development of the game within the Guinness Six Nations membership group.
Leinster head coach Cullen is a name synonymous with the famous Irish provincial side.
During an illustrious playing career Cullen made 220 appearances over two stints and 14 years with the club and became the first man to captain a side to three European Rugby Champions Cup crowns.
In 2018, Cullen added to his legend at the club by becoming the first man to win the top European Rugby trophy as a player and a coach.
Currently on the coaching staff at Leinster, Lancaster made 106 appearances for Leeds Tykes in his senior playing career.
Lancaster is of course, though, most famously known for his stint as England coach from 2011-2015 during which time he led the Red Rose to four consecutive runners-up finishes in the Guinness Six Nations from 2012 to 2015.
Lancaster also won the Triple Crown in 2014 as well as the Calcutta Cup on four straight occasions and his reign is perhaps best remembered for England’s famous 38-21 win over New Zealand in 2012.
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Richards had a long playing career at Leicester Tigers, making a mammoth 314 appearances.
When he then turned his hand to coaching he had an instant impact, leading Leicester to the Premiership Rugby title in each of his first four seasons in charge.
Richards has also earned promotion from the second division with both Harlequins and Newcastle.
Currently World Rugby game analyst consultant Thomas is known for his time as one of the top referees in the game.
He is, perhaps, best known for being the man in charge when Munster famously defeated New Zealand in 1978.
Director of research company Grey Matters, Collins is a sports psychologist with Chelsea FC and Gloucester Rugby.