Cape coach making his mark on international Sevens scene

England Sevens Academy coach, Warren Abrahams, learned his rugby playing for Monument Park High, Durbanville-Bellville and Maties.

On a recent rugby trip to Stellenbosch, the coach of the England Rugby Sevens Academy wrote on social media: “It’s always good to be home.”

Warren Abrahams was born in the southern suburbs where his father was employed at Pollsmoor Prison. He started his schooling at Zwaanswyk primary and high schools until the family relocated to Kraaifontein. He continued his schooling at Monument Park High where he excelled in rugby, so much so that he was snapped up by the Dubanville-Bellville (Durbell) club.

His prowess with the oval ball was well known in club rugby circles and Abrahams started dreaming of one day donning the national team’s green and gold colours and plying his trade as a professional rugby player.

During his stint at Durbell, he was spotted by Stellenbosch University scouts, who offered him a scholarship. This led to a three-year stint where he ran out for the maroon jersey of Maties while studying sport marketing.

Followingthis,Abrahams returned to Durbell where he managed the academy. This marked the start of his coaching journey, while playing for the Durbell first team. But Abrahams was getting impatient. When offers from provincial teams failed to arrive, Abrahams made the bold decision to take what little savings he had and head for England.

Tourist visa in hand, but with no contacts nor any plans for that side of the pond, he arrived in London in July 2007.

His tourist visa only allowed him to work in lower levels coaching, so he found a position with a coaching outfit that saw him coaching at inner-city schools and clubs. His experience with the Durbell Academy stood him in good stead and he developed a reputation as a very capable rugby coach.

This led to a position as a tutor at an inner-city school and soon he found himself in a classroom as a form tutor.

Stillharbouring hopes of becoming a professional player, Abrahams took a step closer to his dream when he joined the internationally renowned London Irish club as coach in the club’s community outreach programme.

In 2010, Abrahams returned home briefly to play for his former club Durbell. This only lasted for five games as he sustained a career-ending knee injury. At the age of 27, Abrahams’ dreams of playing pro rugby came to an abrupt end.

He returned to London where he joined Harlequins, another top-flight club. Working himself up through the coaching ranks, he was again making a name for himself, working at schools and clubs, later moving into the realm of player-development. At Harlequins, he is currently engaged as the academy coach, while also assisting the first team as skills coach. With Rugby Sevens becoming one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, Abrahams took a liking to it.

An established coach by this time, his revised dream took another turn when he was offered a two-year coaching job at the Lithuanian Sevens team. During his tenure, Lithuania won the European Division A title, gaining promotion to the Top League where they played against the best European Sevens side, including England.

He was spotted by England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) and offered the opportunity to work in their Sevens programme, an offer he grabbed with both hands.

Abrahams is currently the RFU’s Sevens Academy coach where he is tasked with preparing the next generation senior Sevens players to play on the prestigious World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.

During their recent trip to Stellenbosch, the team played in an invitational tournament against the likes of Namibia, Scotland as well as the South African Blitzboks.

He lights up when he recounts a typical day in the life of coach Warren Abrahams. “I start every day with a cuddle from our six-week-old daughter, Georgia. She brightens up my day and keeps me grounded.

“Then I enjoy a cup of coffee with my partner, Hannah, before heading out to work. Work for me can include working with a group of inner-city school kids in the morning, a club team in the afternoon and some of the best Sevens players in the world in the late afternoon,” he said.