Chair of Rugby Development

Dave Walkden


Contact No 07968822307


What is your rugby background ?

I started playing rugby relatively late in school life having moved from a predominantly football playing school to an all out rugby playing school at the age of 15. Loved the game from the very first PE lesson and soon was selected to play for the school team, then County (Cheshire) at U16 and U18, and North of England Schools. The following season was selected to play England Colts but broke my jaw in a match the week before my cap. Was Captain at Kingston Polytechnic in the early 1980’s and represented British Polytechnics and was selected in the England Students squad in 1984. Again Injuries curtailed any further advancement. Loved playing Club Rugby for Northwich RFC, Sale RFC, Esher RFC and a few cameo roles for London Welsh RFC. Injuries kept me off the pitch more than I was on it so decided to have a go at Coaching and successfully coached Kingston Polytechnic for 4 years and then progressed to first team coach at Esher RFC when they were playing in London Div. 1 before the start of the professional era.

Marriage, Change of Career, moving location and children meant an absence from Rugby for 6 or 7 years and after a stint of coaching and managing Banbury 2nd team to their most successful season, I introduced my son to Rugby through the junior section at Banbury and then spent the next 11 years developing the boys and girls of the area into a successful rugby team. Losing in the semi finals at the National U17 and U18 competitions was a tough lesson, but the fact that most of the boys I coached are still involved in Rugby, either playing or coaching is perhaps the greatest satisfaction I could have.


How did you get involved in the county

For the last 11 years or so I have had an ever growing role in helping to develop the boys within the County and for the last 2 years have been the Chair of Youth Performance for Oxfordshire. I know select for South West and occasionally England U18’s Schools and Clubs pathway teams. I realised that the only way to influence how the county youth teams were developed and selected was to be on the inside, rather than moaning from the outside, so joined as a development coach with what was at the time know as the RFU School of Rugby (SOR). Only when helping and coaching did I realise the hard work that went in to both the organisation and running of rugby generally, but specifically for me at Youth level.


What are your Rugby Highlights

Whilst I have had a number of highlights in my playing career, such as becoming British Polytechnic Champions in 1984 , achieving promotion with Esher RFC playing for 1st XV at Sale in-between studies in Kingston and being selected at National and junior international level, it is seeing so many of the boys I coached go on to play at County, South West and England as well as playing at University and in Premiership clubs that is the biggest highlight.


What do you want to achieve in your time on the board

Rugby at all levels is going through unprecedented changes and not all for the best. Rightly or wrongly focus now sits squarely at the premiership sides for the development of our boys and girls. We have fought tooth and nail over the last 3 or 4 years to ensure that not all funding at youth level goes to the academies. U14 to U16 level development is undertaken through the DPP programme at the academies, but as the County Age Grade Chairman it is my role to ensure that as many as possible boys and girls get the coaching they need and deserve. After the disappointment many will have when their involvement at Academy DPP training ends, it is my mission to ensure as many as possible of the youth of the county either have the possibility of further honours with the England U18 pathway or continue to maintain and develop their love for the game and become the best players they can be at their clubs or university.


Please click the terms of reference to find out more about this role.