Horne home again
It’s almost like Pete Horne has never been away, as the former centurion settles into his chair at Scotstoun.
With the emblem on his chest and a grin on his face, it’s clear that the 32-year-old’s enthusiasm for life as a Glasgow Warrior has gone absolutely nowhere since calling time on his playing career.
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Having been appointed as the club’s new Skills Coach, all you have to do is ask him how it feels to be back in the building and that aforementioned grin gets ever wider.
“It’s great to be back, it really is,” said Horne.
“I’m chuffed to be able to take this new role and I’m feeling really excited about what lies in store.
“It’s a real honour to be asked to come back so soon – obviously it’s only been about six months since I hung up the boots, but I’ve been on the coaching path for a while alongside playing and when the call came it was too big an opportunity to turn down.
“There’s already a fair bit of planning being done by the coaching group that’s here, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Horne has by no means been sitting idle since his retirement from playing. Far from it. A six-month stint at FOSROC Super6 side Ayrshire Bulls saw the former Scotland international cut his coaching teeth with some of the brightest young talents within Scottish rugby, as the men from Millbrae took to the field in the recent Sprint Series.
For Horne, though, the opportunity to learn how to lead a club off the field was just as valuable as what happens over 80 minutes each weekend.
“The Bulls job was a great learning experience for me,” he said.
“I had a great group of players up in Ayr, whose work ethic and camaraderie was something special. I feel really lucky to have been able to be a part of that, and I absolutely loved my time up at Millbrae.
“It also underlined the importance of building connections not just with the squad, but with everyone around the club. I’m excited to be back in the pro game and I’m looking forward to taking the learnings from my time at Millbrae into life at Scotstoun.”
The transition of the Howe of Fife product from player to coach will likely come as no surprise to anyone that has followed his career, with the former centre having long been earmarked as a future coach by those both within Scottish rugby circles and those watching from the outside.
Indeed, as Horne explains, his new role at Scotstoun is the latest step on a journey that began even before he’d taken his first steps into the world of professional rugby.
“My mum and dad were both coaches – my mum was a tennis coach, and I spent most of my childhood summers at camps helping her out whenever I wasn’t running around playing rugby,” he said.
“My dad also coached me from Primary Three right through to U18s, so it feels like its something that’s always been in the family really. I went to university with a view to being a PE teacher too, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed with some of the best coaches in the world during my career, honestly. Gregor [Townsend] had a massive influence on me – I loved how detailed he was, and he’d always make time for you regardless of what else was happening. That was massive for my development and I always took a lot out of our sessions.
“To then have Rens [Dave Rennie] come in after that, that was brilliant. Even when he wasn’t picking me, I still wanted to go out and make him proud, that was the kind of leader he was and is. He had such a good social awareness and built brilliant relationships across the squad, and that’s really fed into my coaching philosophy. Mike Blair, too – when he was at Glasgow I loved working and talking rugby with him.”
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Yet behind the grin, there’s also a hunger underneath Horne’s enthusiasm. As a 2015 Guinness PRO12 title winner, he knows exactly what’s required to succeed and challenge for trophies in Glasgow colours.
It starts with hard work on the training pitch, something for which Horne the player was renowned throughout his career.
“I definitely want to bring the same work ethic I had as a player into my role as a coach,” said Horne.
“That’s sort of the foundation of who I am as a character, but I also try and be upbeat and bring a lot of energy to training. Ultimately I love what I do, and as a player I was always inspired by coaches that showed that out on the pitch.
“You get a bit of a buzz from training under guys like that, and that for me is how you get the best out of people.
“I want to get Glasgow Warriors back to where this club should be, challenging for trophies and showing what they can do. We’ve got a brilliant squad, honestly. I fully believe we have a group of players that has the potential to challenge in both the URC and Europe, and I reckon the next couple of years are going to be really exciting.”