Head of Rugby Operations at Harlequins Rugby Union, Graeme Bowerbank explains the various areas away from the field he oversees and the reason he took up the role at the club in 2010. All jobs have their exciting and difficult moments to get through and Graeme’s is no different, as he says when players make “mistakes” on the field and having to deal with their disciplinary issues is the challenging part of his role, while winning trophies is an achievement which is equally as rewarding for the backroom staff as it is for the coaches and players.
Having a desire to become a professional sportsman is what Graeme says assisted him in better understanding the mind-set of the players at Harlequins and what it takes to go from being a skilful athlete to actually winning championships. Having the right environment, culture and common drive at Harlequins is what it takes to reach targets on and off the field according to Graeme, who insists that all the people that work behind the scenes at the club can potentially have an impact as to what happens on match-days for the team. Graeme discusses what is required for a Rugby club to go from being good to being exceptional, with the backroom staff having a big influence on that. Momentum also has a significant influence on how well a club does each season and Graeme says personal issues experienced by both players and backroom staff can affect that momentum he speaks of.
Prior to joining Harlequins, Graeme worked at the Football Association as the England team’s Operations Manager for a little over four years. He speaks about the difference between a national and club environment, with money having a massive impact in each sport with regards to available resources. Graeme talks about the people that operate behind the scenes at Harlequins, from catering to medical staff, and while they might not get as much recognition as the players and coaches do in the media and from the supporters, the support staff forms the backbone of any club. Apart from winning games and trophies, Graeme mentions the goals Harlequins have from an operational point of view in 2018, which is to have each department at the club function as smoothly as possible.