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Focus on Phil Larder

OUR former centre Phil Larder, a significant figure in the rugby life story of Roughyeds’ managing director Mike Ford, will be featured in a new book just out about the inside story of England’s triumph in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup in Australia.

Phil was England defence coach and a key figure in Sir Clive Woodward’s backroom team as England beat Australia in the World Cup Final. The former Oldham centre, who watched us recently at the Vestacare Stadium and received his Oldham RLFC Heritage Certificate, was later honoured nationally with the MBE.

The book, written by J R Rickwood with a foreword by Sir Clive, is on sale now at £19.99. Its title is, ‘One Team — The Paths to Rugby World Cup Glory’ (ISBN 9781399960687) and it gives, 20 years since it happened, an in-depth, inside perspective of how the glory boys of England won the World Cup 12,000 miles away on the other side of the planet.

Many people on the inside — players and backroom team — tell their stories, including Larder who, in an earlier life, was Ford’s rugby league and PE teacher at Saddleworth School.

Fast forward a few years, by which time Larder was coaching in Union and Ford was player-coach at Oldham, and Larder pointed his former pupil in the direction of the Ireland RU, who had advertised a vacancy in their backroom team.

After many years in Union’s top jobs, in some respects following in Larder’s footsteps, Ford is now back at Oldham RLFC as managing director, but he still has an interest in all things Union through his three sons, one of whom, George, plays for Sale Sharks and England.

His elder brother, who also played in top-flight club Rugby Union before he finished, is coach of Doncaster RUFC and his younger brother is heavily involved in RU coaching in Suffolk, both at Bury St Edmunds RUFC and at Ipswich School.

The two elder boys and Mike, their dad, coached the coaches at Melrose Playing Fields the week before more than 200 local youngsters turned up for rugby league pathway/development training as part of the RFL Development programme which has the full support and backing of Oldham RLFC.

For the record, Larder’s Oldham RLFC Heritage number is 705 and he made 328 appearances for us between 1968 and 1981, scoring 111 tries and 475 goals for 1,283 points in the days when a try was worth three points.

He later coached Widnes, Sheffield and Keighley, wrote the RFL Coaching Manual and coached Great Britain to the 1995 Rugby League World Cup Final, in which the World Cup went to Australia.

Eight years later, albeit in a different code of rugby, he and England conquered the men from Down Under in a World Cup Final. Needless to say, it was quite an occasion for the man from Oldham.

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