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Jim Greenwood

Jim Greenwood

Former staff – head rugby coach and lecturer in English

Greenwood was born in Dunfermline, Fife, and educated at Dunfermline high school and Edinburgh University, where he read English. He followed university with national service in the RAF, for which he played rugby. His displays in the back row attracted the attention of Harlequins and Eastern Counties. Back in Scotland, Greenwood joined his hometown club, Dunfermline. By the age of 24, he had been called by Scotland for his first cap against France.

The early 1950s were unhappy times for Scottish rugby but Greenwood, a No 8, soon made a lasting impression with his skill and pace. By 1955 the Scottish selectors had recognised that skill and tactical acumen and made him captain, and that year he was picked by the Lions for their tour of South Africa.

The Lions turned Greenwood into a flanker with spectacular success and he scored tries in the first and fourth Tests of a drawn series, combining in the first with the precocious Tony O’Reilly for his try and setting up the Irishman for a score of his own in a memorable win. Greenwood played in 16 games on tour and was in contention for a place on the 1959 tour, but he dislocated his shoulder against Ireland that year. The injury ended his representative career. He won 20 caps for Scotland, nine as captain.

He forged a career as a teacher at Glenalmond College in Perth, Cheltenham College and Tiffin school in Kingston upon Thames where, in 1967, he wrote Improve Your Rugby. From Tiffin he moved to Loughborough College to teach English and found himself in charge of the rugby team which, in the 60s and 70s, had a formidable fixture list. His coaching at Loughborough inspired a new generation of England players, including the prop Fran Cotton.

The publication of Total Rugby established his reputation and Greenwood toured the globe, helping to establish coaching structures in Argentina, Japan, the US and Canada. He also coached the England women’s team. It was always something of a mystery why his native land did not recognise Greenwood’s influence and recruit him as a national coach.

Scotland coach, Andy Robinson, and Sir Clive Woodward were both students at Loughborough and heavily influenced by Greenwood’s ideas. Woodward has said: “Basically I went to Loughborough for one reason, to play my best rugby, and for one man, Jim Greenwood. If I was going to play for England it made sense to go where the best coach was. Jim’s book Total Rugby is the only rugby coaching book I’ve ever read. It was way ahead of its time.” Scotland’s rugby supporters will reflect ruefully that the work of one of their own helped forge England’s victory in the 2003 World Cup.