The screech of a whistle, the thud of a tackle and the roar of celebration, all sounds synonymous with the game played in heaven. Sounds that Alan Gaffney has been hearing for over 50 years.
His voice is still gravelly, his demeanour still cheeky but his presence is legendary, for our current crop of Under 20s.
It’s been a while between drinks for Gaffney at this level though, with coaching stints all across Europe and Australia over the last 30 years.
“There is no doubt just looking at me you can tell I am getting on and I just wanted to stay involved and if I can contribute in anyways, I’d like to,” Gaffney said to ARU Media.
“Adrian Thompson was very kind and asked me if I wanted to be involved with the 20’s and it’s always been something I liked doing.”
And despite three decades passing since his last involvement, some things just don’t change.
“There is a thirst for knowledge with young players, who want to improve and these boys are no different. We have to give them a great deal of detail because that’s what they need and that’s what they want and I am personally very proud to be involved.”
It has taken a revamp of the junior program for Gaffney to return, with the Australian Rugby Union recognising that they have fallen behind in elite development.
And it’s not just the players that are suffering but the coaches too.
“There is no point having talented players without the coaches who have the ability to coach them. We have to also help develop the coaches and I think that would go hand in hand with us producing much better players over time.”
While coaching the coaches has become his drive, developing the next batch of backs is still his passion.
“Andrew Kellaway and Jonah Placid has been there before. Campbell Magnay is playing Super Rugby and there are some other boys there.
“James Tuttle and Harry Nucifora have big wraps on them as a nine.
“Andrew Deegan has places to go, and Duncan Paia’aua has got a contract with the Queensland Reds. There are boys there with a lot of talent who will continue to develop into very good players.”
It sounds like we’ll be hearing more about these players in the years to come.