Gareth Pickering appointed to fill new Director of Rugby role at Dilworth School


Born and bred in Oxford, North Canterbury, Gareth Pickering who has previously worked at Dilworth as a tutor, has accepted the newly created Director of Rugby role at the school. The position is part of the school’s overriding strategy to develop a high-performance programme and culture in sport. Gareth will be involved in creating a clear strategic plan for rugby, incorporating a cohesive development programme across the three campuses. He will also teach Health and Physical Education at the Senior Campus.

Gareth has spent the last eight years at Blackrock College in Ireland in various pastoral, teaching and sports leadership roles. He coached extensively while in Ireland. Most recently, as the Under 20s Head Coach and the Premier Senior Men’s Defence Coach at the Dublin University Football Club, and coach of a very successful 1st XV team at Blackrock College and was Backs Coach for the Leinster Under 20s for two seasons.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for rugby
I remember playing rugby as a young boy every Saturday morning in the hard Canterbury frost with cuts all down your legs from the hard ice on the pitch. Then watching all the older teams play throughout the day until the senior men’s team in the afternoon. Playing Bullrush and Force Back in between games. There wasn’t a moment on a Saturday when a rugby ball wasn’t too far way.

I would consider myself passionate about sport as opposed to just rugby. My passion is more so for sport and seeing people develop. I fell into coaching after a bad back injury in 1999 where I fell eight meters off a cliff and fractured a number of vertebrae in my back. I have been coaching ever since.

What motivated you initially to work in education?
My desire to work in education started as a 13-year-old at Christchurch Boys’ High School. The PE staff’s passion for sport was infectious and rubbed off on me. My passion for education and teaching PE grew from this experience.

What attracted you to the Director of Rugby role at Dilworth?
As I said at the new staff pōwhiri last month, Dilworth has always had a special place in my heart, having been a tutor here from 2006-2008 before departing for Ireland. I didn’t see myself returning to the North Island if it wasn’t for Dilworth. There is something unique and powerful about this school. In essence, it’s a special place. I was drawn to the potential that we have as a school and in rugby. The potential for our students to be the best they can be and the possibility to create a special rugby environment that boys cherish, well beyond their time here at the school. 

What do you hope to achieve in your role?
I want every Dilworth rugby player to have an enjoyable and rewarding rugby experience. I see my role moving forward, as creating an environment and culture where Dilworth students are self-motivated to work hard and to be the best that they can be. I hope to create a programme and a culture where rugby aids these young men on their journey through life and one which prepares them for this world - both on the pitch and off pitch as well as beyond the gates of Dilworth.

Why do you think it’s important for young men to be involved in sports?
Purpose. Sport gives young men purpose. And if done well, instils characteristics and behaviours that help on their journey, well beyond the sports fields. Research shows that those who participate in sports, do better in the classroom as a result of their participation. Young men want to belong to something bigger than themselves. Being part of a team and a community is in my opinion, essential to the development of young men. Our role as educators, is to provide an environment and culture that young men not only want to be part of but one in which they take ownership.

What helps create a thriving sports culture at school?
I walked into a sports team changing room recently where there was a sign that read “hand up, not handout”. This typifies for me, the attitude that we can embrace when talking about culture. Too often, we look for what others can do for us rather than asking what is it that we can do for ourselves. There is no magic pill or throw-away clichés that can create a thriving sports culture. All successful cultures since the beginning of time have been built on the bedrocks of hard work, strong values and high standards. Without those, a culture can’t exist let alone thrive. Culture is something we do on a day-to-day basis. It’s something that we live and breathe. I’m very excited about the potential at Dilworth and what we can achieve collectively. We have a lot of work to do to create a thriving sports culture, but it’s an exciting challenge that we face and one we can embrace together.


September 3, 2020