A veteran of 12 seasons with Bradford Northern, and a two-time Yorkshire Cup winner, Jon Hamer is steeped in Odsal folklore and was awarded a testimonial for his service to the club in 1994. In his playing days, he lined up alongside the likes of Brian McDermott, Steve McNamara and Brian Noble, and has since followed in their footsteps by turning to coaching. The 48-year-old, who is heavily involved with Police Rugby League, told TotalRL how he’s still active in our sport…
How did you get into police Rugby League?
While at the Bulls in 1996, I got the opportunity to play for Great Britain Police in Australia and was given the backing and support of coach Brian Smith and chairman Chris Caisley, who led the board at that point. From then on I have been heavily involved with Police Rugby League in a coaching capacity.
What is your role?
I am currently head coach of the West Yorkshire Police team, and have been since 1997, and am a team manager with the Great Britain team. I was head coach of GB Police from 1998 until 2008, when I took up the team manager role.
What is police Rugby League all about?
In a nutshell: wellbeing, team ethos, supporting and developing Rugby League and community involvement.
You played in the front row alongside Brian McDermott at Bradford, do you ever get coaching tips off him?
Plenty of my team mates have become great coaches – Brian Mac, Steve McNamara, Jimmy Lowes and Brian Noble are among them. We are all friends and keep in touch and I occasionally pick up a cracking tip or two.
I still watch loads of rugby as well, both on TV and in the community so constantly pick coaching tips up. You have got to soak it all up and decide which to keep and which to dismiss.
What future tours do you have planned for the side?
We have just returned from a successful Malta tour with the West Yorkshire side and are planning to return to USA in 2015 with the GB side to defend the Atlantic Cup. Beyond that it will be a short developmental tour with the West Yorkshire squad in 2016 and the World Cup with the GB squad in Australia in 2017
What is the aim of the tours?
Home or abroad we run with wellbeing, team ethos, supporting and developing Rugby League and community involvement – ‘maximise’ is one of our buzz words.
What is the standard like in your games?
West Yorkshire are the current Police Sport UK National Cup holders and we play police teams of varying levels from across the country. At national level we compete against other sides such as Military Combined Services, GB Students, GB Teachers, British Army and BARLA and are very competitive in such competitions as the RFL Associations Cup and the Challenge Cup. We are keen to encourage new players from the Police family, not just cops, into our squad to develop and progress our rugby brand on the world stage.
Do many ex pros play?
We have a few players that have been junior professionals but then sought a career within the Police Service but seldom any old ones due to the condition of their bodies, just like mine, which is spent!
How has police Rugby League developed over the past 10 years?
We all work for our respective Police services locally, regionally and nationally and that commitment and those demands have had an effect on police Rugby League. Having said that we are more structured now from the top to the bottom and that ensures we have improved and will continue to improve to showcase police rugby league on any stage.
To find out more, visit the Police Sport website or follow the Great Britain Police Rugby League team on Facebook.