Senior Coaching Team

(This page is currently under construction)

The playing squad are coached by a team with a true Old Pats flavour who have a genuine love for the club and share the passion of the players.

A number of the coaches are long-standing Old Pats who have played or coached at a higher level and returned to help the next generation. Chris Downes, Head Coach and Will Safe, Skills Coach, have played at a professional level with Ebbw Vale, Gloucester & Hartpury and are still playing an active part at Old Pats.

Matt Dean, 1st team captain, played for the Old Pats Juniors and Colts., Gethin Evans has been adopted by the club having started his playing career across the bridge with Llanelli – but has been an Old Pat for over 15 years and has coached in the juniors and colts.

Whilst we are an amateur rugby club, we approach the game with a professional mindset both on and off the field to allow every player to develop and enjoy their game.


Connor Thompson

Club Captain

Connor arrived in Gloucestershire to study at University having played for Hertford RFC as a junior and has been a 1st team stalwart ever since.

An immovable object anchoring the scrum at tight-head and a key member of the team throughout his 10 seasons at the club Connor is truly an Old Pat and makes a real difference to the club.

If you’d like to chat to Connor about becoming part of the Old Pats Senior squad click here to contact him

Chris Downes

Head Coach

Chris embodies what the Old Pats is all about. He has been an Old Pat since his junior rugby but having been developed here he went off to play at a higher level including Colston’s School, Saracens Academy, England Under 16’s and 17’s and Ebbw Vale before returning as a 1st Team player in 2007.

Using this fantastic knowledge of the game Chris has worked incredibly hard to develop himself in to an outstanding coach, having coached at a number of rugby clubs he has for a number of seasons been Director of Rugby at University of Gloucestershire, Forward’s Coach of Gloucestershire Under 18’s as well as Head Coach at Old Pats.

If you’d like to chat to Chris about becoming part of the Old Pats Senior squad click here to contact him

Ben Smith

Senior Coach

Ben is a professional rugby coach having worked as a Community Rugby Coach and now Rugby Development Officer for the RFU.

He has taken the skills developed in his day job and worked with a number of rugby clubs to develop himself and the players he has coached.

Before joining the Old Pats at the start of the 2019-20 season Ben had been the Head Coach of Ledbury Rugby Club so brings a real understanding of what it means to work with players at a true community rugby club. He has also worked with Chris at University of Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire Under 18’s.

If you’d like to chat to Ben about becoming part of the Old Pats Senior squad click here to contact him

Will Safe

Skills Coach

Will is a brilliant example of what it means to be a real Old Pat. He played for the club junior section all the way to the colts before winning an academy and then professional contract at Gloucester Rugby Club where he played many games for the A and 1st team in the back-row.

During his time as a pro player he developed himself as a coach working with the players at Old Pats as Cheltenham College.

In the 2019-20 season he played for Hartpury Rugby Club in the Championship which he combined with a new role as Community Development Coach at the RFU.

He is a fantastic coach with a great ability to support the development of the Old Pats squad with a focus on skills development.

Norman Bell

Team Manager

Norman is a stalwart of the Old Pats having played an active part in the junior section for many years concluding with acting as Team Manager of the Colts.

He know works off the pitch to make sure that the players have everything they need in place and manages the RFU administration of the Senior Section.

Sophie Brown


The players need massive amounts of tape and the skills and knowledge of a highly experienced Physio and Sports Therapist pitch-side team to manage injuries and keep them safe.

The pitch-side team is lead by Sophie Brown who is highly skilled Physiotherapist working for the Gloucestershire NHS Trust.

The pitch-side team attend training sessions on a Tuesday & Thursday throughout the season as well as games on a Saturday.

With a dedicated focus on holistic pre-hab as well as post injury re-habilitation the pitch-side team work with the players throughout pre-season and the playing season.

Senior sponsors

Featured sponsor

Andy Train, current Senior 2 and Senior 3 player, U16’s coach, and parent of U15 player; is the owner and Managing Director of DAEL Ventures group.

The DAEL group are a leading provider of bespoke communications infrastructure services to the telecoms, broadcast, data and wireless industries.

Founded in 2013, DAEL now have 4 offices in the UK and over 200 people in their team. Their services include: site acquisition and town planning , civil and electrical engineering, structural engineering, turn key project management, site construction, electrical installation, rigging installation and commissioning.

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