Gregor Townsend’s presentation strikes a chord with St. Mirren manager

Jack Ross is on the verge of completing one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent history this season.

Sitting well adrift at the bottom of the Championship table last season, Jack Ross had it all to do at St. Mirren, but after surviving the threat of relegation the Buddies are now on the verge of promotion to the Premiership.

This season, Ross has played a key role in the renovation of their training centre, delivered motivational speeches and reinvigorated his players.

It comes as no surprise then, that he immediately related to Scotland national rugby union head coach Gregor Townsend’s presentation at the recent UEFA Pro Licence get together, delivered by the Scottish FA.

The St. Mirren boss is undertaking the 18-month long course alongside a number of fellow young, ambitious coaches such as Barry Robson, Steven Hammell, Stephen McManus and Graeme Murty.

Earlier this week, Townsend visited the group to talk about his coaching journey so far as well management techniques.  

“I’ve been aware of Gregor’s work, particularly at Glasgow Warriors, and much like Gregor I’m a big sports fan so I paid a lot of attention to his success at that club and how he created a culture there,” said Jack Ross.

“His presentation reassured me that a lot of the work I am doing is on a similar page.

“He spoke about maximising human contact between players, as statistically, in the NBA, the teams who high five and fist bump the most during games are more likely to win the game.

“That was really interesting and certainly something to take from the presentation.”

With the environment in which players work in now becoming more and more linked to the performance on the pitch, Jack Ross has set to work on the St. Mirren training facility to make it an inspiring workplace, having learned lessons from Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers.

“At St. Mirren, we’ve done a lot of interior work at our training round, changing the layout of rooms, putting up a lot of signage and making it more of a performance environment that belongs to the players.

“At the end of last season I spent the day with Brendan at Celtic and he spoke about creating the right culture and mind-set within their organisation, which is a brilliantly powerful thing if you get it right.

“Gregor clearly is focused on creating the right environment for the players as well, which I think is hugely important and certainly helps with delivering performances on the pitch.”

The last 12 months have been tumultuous to say the least at the Paisley 2021 Stadium. After staving off relegation last season and becoming a success story this season, Ross noticed similarities with how he motivates players to the Scotland rugby boss.

“Gregor spoke about how to pick up individuals when they’re not hitting the heights you know they can.

“He said that instead of giving negative feedback to the players, he would remind them of how good they can be and then look at ways of resurrecting that good form. We’ve done that a couple of times this season.

“One player had struggled to make the transition this season, so to help him improve we reminded him of his better performances by showing him clips of how he’d performed at previous clubs and what he can do to get that spark back.”

On the same week that Video Assistant Referees were used for the first time in the FA Cup, the Scottish FA’s Head of Refereeing John Fleming spoke to the assembled coaches about the use of technology in refereeing.

“It’s something we may not need to worry about in the near future in Scotland but in terms of broadening our knowledge it was very useful,” said Ross.

“It was interesting to hear the debate about the different ways you could utilise VAR but all the coaches were in agreement that you have to curtail its use to a degree, otherwise you run the risk of sanitising the game.

“The game is unfair sometimes but at the same time if you took that unfairness out the game then the unpredictability factor of football, which all the fans love, would die.

“We have to be careful of the extent to which we use it, as there is that element of human behaviour of players and match officials that makes our game so entertaining.”