Graham Rowntree – The Lelos’ New Forwards Coach


Graham Rowntree, who coached England forwards in 2007-2015, will work in Milton Haig’s team as forwards coach until the end of Georgia’s participation in Rugby World Cup 2019. Georgia Rugby Union Board approved Rowntree’s appointment today, following which the President of Union, Gocha Svanidze, Georgia Head Coach Milton Haig and High Performance Manager Bacho Khurtsidze introduced Graham Rowntree to Georgian Media at press conference held at Georgia Rugby Union HQ.



Gocha Svanidze: “We are happy to introduce the new member of the Lelos’ coaching staff, forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who earned the reputation of top player and highly qualified coach in the course of his rugby career.


“Our team’s performance recently suffered certain regression, as a result of which we decided to part with previous staff members and the Lelos were left without the forwards coach. Now this position will be taken by Rowntree, who told me he accepts this challenge because he took an interest in Georgian forwards and is interested in contributing to their development. The contract we signed lasts up to the end of 2019”.


Milton Haig:


“Graham Rowntree does not need to be introduced to anybody. He is the former international player for England, and his coaching record speaks for itself… 4 Rugby World Cups as a coach, and I think we are very-very lucky to have someone of Graham’s quality to join us, especially at this stage of our program, one year down to Japan 2019.


“As the President said, and also from my point of view, the most impressive thing for me, when I first met Graham 4 weeks ago was his excitement and his enthusiasm to be involved with the Georgian team. He can contribute a lot to improving our performance. I am very happy, also because of the fact that we have similar philosophies about our training and how we need to play the game, going forward, to be able to make the next step up. I very much look forward to starting the actual process.”



Graham Rowntree after having greeted the Georgian media in Georgian: “I’ve not felt like this before about a role, obviously this is the most excited I’ve been for any role - as an Englishman coaching the Georgian forward pack. But I’ve been the fan of Georgian forwards’ play for long time, and that’s the opportunity to be associated with such a forward packing – hope to get best out of that forward pack, such a big year coming up – that’s the opportunity I could not miss. The warmth that has been shown to me by Milton and everyone else in the organization, it spurred and further increased my excitement and I can’t wait to get stuck into the games in the autumn.”


Media representatives asked what Rowntree plans to improve until the upcoming Rugby World Cup, to which he answered:


“I have watched the Lelos’ games, but have not analyzed their performance in detail yet. Generally speaking, it is important to consider selection and injuries, it’s important that the next guys come in through and prepare for test rugby.


“On September 28 Milton and I will go to France. During the period between this autumn and next February – that is to say, in December-January, I will be in contact with those players and see them in France as well. Forward play is much more than just set piece, you got to be able to defend, to get off the ground, get back in the game and make good decisions.”


Milton Haig and Gocha Svanidze said that the Lelos’ coaching staff will not have any new members on long-term contracts yet. In case of necessity they might invite narrow-profile specialists:


Milton Haig:

“Obviously this is a process that we are continuing to look at. In terms of attack, I don’t think so, it just means that I’ll go back and tackle the attack like I used to, but whether we get another person to look at certain aspects of how we play, we might employ a specialist on a short-term contract if needed.”



Gocha Svanidze: „Our policy is not to set limits to number of coaches. We are open to inviting one or more relevant specialists on a short-term or long-term basis if required.”


About Graham Rowntree

Rowntree is a high level specialist with a great deal of experience, backed up by his successful career – 17 years as a player and 11 years as a scrum coach on the top level, including international level.



47-year-old forwards coach was born in Stockton on April 18, 1971. He started his professional career as loose-head prop for ‘Leicester Tigers’ in 1990 and played 398 matches wearing with Tigers jersey. With his club, Graham won the Champions Cup twice (2001 and 2002 years), and the English Premiership – four times.


Rowntree had his debut in the National Team of England in 1995 and won 54 caps until 2006. He played at two Rugby World Cups – in 1995 and 1999. In 2003 he won 6 Nations with Grand Slam. In 2005 Graham Rowntree was invited to British and Irish Lions, where he played three games against Argentina and New Zealand (twice).



After the end of his playing career, Rowntree moved to the coaching staff of ‘Leicester Tigers’ and worked as head coach’s assistant for a season. Same year he became a member of England National Academy and in 2007 he started as scrum coach for England (national team), where he stayed until 2015. During this period, he was twice invited as a scrum coach for the tour of British and Irish Lions.


From 2016 till 2018 Graham worked in the England Premiership side ‘Harlequins’.

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