Rob McGeechan looks to step out of his father’s shadow as he bids to make the little Sheffield Oaks mighty

Sheffield Oaks RUFC coach Rob McGeechan

Sheffield Oaks RUFC coach Rob McGeechan

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What’s in a name? Well, rugby royalty if you go by the surname McGeechan as it is associated with Sir Ian, who was knighted in the 2010 News Years Honours list for services to rugby.

His illustrious career includes highlights of playing for Scotland at fly-half, leading his nation to a Grand Slam in 1990 as head coach, and touring with the British and Irish Lions.

Sheffield Oaks RUFC coach Rob McGeechan watches his players take part in a game of tag rugby after the home game v York RI RUFC game was postponed due to a frozen pitch

Sheffield Oaks RUFC coach Rob McGeechan watches his players take part in a game of tag rugby after the home game v York RI RUFC game was postponed due to a frozen pitch

Hefty boots to fill... and his only son Rob felt the full force of living in his shadow when he was growing up, especially when they lived in Scotland shortly after the Grand Slam triumph.

“I felt intense pressure whenever I crossed the white line and I used to get so nervous before games, even as a school boy,” said 36-year-old Rob, now the head coach of local side Sheffield Oaks.

“I could be seen throwing up in the toilet before kick-off and as soon as I stepped onto the pitch, I wasn’t Rob McGeechan anymore; I was Ian McGeechan’s son.

“The pressure was particularly bad when we were living in Edinburgh so soon after Dad had won the Grand Slam.

Players form both Sheffield Oaks RUFC and York RI RUFC played a game of tag rugby after the late postponement of the game between both clubs

Players form both Sheffield Oaks RUFC and York RI RUFC played a game of tag rugby after the late postponement of the game between both clubs

“During my matches you could almost hear people tutting on the side line if I made a mistake and if I threw a missed pass you could almost hear people saying: “his Dad wouldn’t have done that.”

“At times it was really tough. I wasn’t enjoying my rugby and I did feel very much like I was living in my Dad’s shadow.”

Rob first started playing for Leeds club West Park, but a move to Edinburgh in 1992 saw the centre play for Royal High whist Sir Ian was in New Zealand coaching a World XV side to play the All Blacks for their centenary year.

In 1994 McGeechan senior took up the Director of Rugby Role at Northampton Saints, which saw Rob make the move to Moulton and later Brixworth RUFC.

Players form both Sheffield Oaks RUFC and York RI RUFC played a game of tag rugby after the late postponement of the game between both clubs

Players form both Sheffield Oaks RUFC and York RI RUFC played a game of tag rugby after the late postponement of the game between both clubs

A knee injury effectively then ended his playing career, at just 22 years of age.

After a break from the game the calling from coaching was too strong to ignore and Rob took his first behind-the-scenes role at Sheffield RUFC in 2010, coaching the junior section and the South Yorkshire U13s backs.

Since then Rob has also coached at Birmingham and Solihull, Copsewood RUFC in Coventry before completing his level two coaching badge, which actually makes him more qualified than his father.

He then joined Yorkshire Four side Sheffield Oaks last August.

“It was a bit of a culture shock as I’d coached in higher divisions,” he admitted.

“But I am very excited to be back coaching in the city and I want to bring a brand of exciting, attacking rugby to the club where the play is fluid and consistent. I want to bring a professional feel to what is an amateur club and my Dad is a big influence in that. I want to bring a British Lions feel to the club with real motivation and drive.

“It is not just a group of guys coming together on a Saturday afternoon, hungover. I want the guys’ attitudes to be first class and believe that we can move up the leagues.

“We may not be as high up as Sheffield RUFC or Tigers and we don’t have the facilities they have, but I want us to be right up there competing in the future. The players at the moment definitely have the right attitudes and ambition to achieve that.”

This season, though, Rob has not had an easy ride. Oaks are currently second from bottom, having won just one of their league fixtures whilst losing nine, including a 136-0 drubbing away to Wetherby in October.

“It has been extremely difficult so far, mainly because at the moment the side relies on students,” he said.

“In the past they have been blessed with a big influx but this season this hasn’t happened and some games we are scratching round to make up numbers.

“We are on a big recruitment drive right now and it would be great to have more people to select from this year.

“It was particularly difficult losing so heavily to Wetherby but if anything, it’s brought the whole side closer together and right now the short term goal is to get out of the relegation battle that we are currently in.”

Oaks prop forward Michael Kontou added: “We are finding it tough and we are nowhere near where we want to be.

“But I believe we have the right spirit at the club to get us out of trouble.

“Rob has brought a more professional feel to the club and he’s particularly good at preparing us before games with motivational speeches.

“We will all be very focused to play better rugby this year.”

On several occasions this season Rob has been joined by his famous father on the side-line and this Christmas, the Sheffield coach was keen to take advice from Sir Ian - although he has a very different approach to managing his players.

“We definitely discussed rugby over Christmas Dinner... sat around the table moving the salt and pepper about and setting up team formations,” laughed Rob, newly appointed as an Academy coach at Yorkshire Carnegie.

“Right now we both want to do our part for rugby in the north and end the north/south divide in this country.

“My Dad is certainly trying to do what he can as the executive chairman of Yorkshire Carnegie and there is no one better to take advice and tips from, especially because of his experience and knowledge of what to do when it gets tough.

“However, I have to have a much more hands-on approach than my Dad because I don’t have the luxury of different advisors and coaches around me.

“But so far I am loving my time at Sheffield Oaks and we are ready to go in the New Year.”

Currently Sheffield Oaks are looking to recruit players.

For more information visit their website www.sheffieldoaks.com, or follow them on Twitter: @OaksRUFC.