How Pat Sanford is forging a coaching career in the sport he loves

by frank-stuart

Aged six years’ old Pat Sanford followed in his Dad’s footsteps when he signed up to play rugby union at Redfield College. Fast forward sixteen years and he’s back in schools helping to make kids ‘rugby kids’ and loving every minute of it.

“I’d rather be outdoors, running around with a ball in my hands any day,” Pat said. “I enjoy showing the young kids how much fun rugby can be.” Pat had secured his role as the Sydney Metro Rugby Programs Officer for NSW Rugby before he graduated with a Bachelor in Sports Coaching from ACPE.


“While I was studying, ACPE advertised some work experience helping out a local rugby union club. I volunteered and when I was there I met a Development Officer for the Waratahs,” Pat explained. The meeting led to some casual work for NSW Rugby before Pat got a full-time job. Now he runs various development programs that teach school-aged children the fundamentals of rugby union. He also helps schools set up their own teams.

“By the end of school I knew I wanted a career in the sport but I didn’t have a clue how to begin,” Pat said. “My cousin’s wife studied PE Teaching at ACPE and it seemed like a good place to start.”

“ACPE really pushed industry experience. If it wasn’t part of my degree I wouldn’t have done it, but look where it’s landed me,” he said. “ACPE must be doing something right – my uni colleagues are also out there working in the industry.”

To fulfil the required work experience hours for his degree, Pat returned to the school where he first learnt to play and approached his old coach. “Thankfully he said ‘yes’ and showed me how to coach,” Pat said. “I worked at the school and at Eastwood Rugby, where I still play.”

Pat balanced this practical experience with theory. “At ACPE, I learnt good coaching tips – like how to speak to the athletes. They taught me how to pull the answers out of kids, how to coach them rather than dictate to them and this is one of the big reasons I got the gig with the Waratahs,” he said.

Now that he’s working full-time in the industry, Pat continues to learn all he can. “Ultimately I’d like a hands-on coaching role. My dream is to coach super rugby.” Who knows, maybe one day he’ll be coaching the kids who he inspires to play today.

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