Tim Walsh: Player, Coach, Olympian

Karma Ambassador Tim Walsh is an elite athlete and one of Australia’s most accomplished rugby players who now coaches the Women’s 7’s team. We caught up with Tim during his recent stay at Karma Kandara – and discovered a man as eloquent and thoughtful as he is skilled on the rugby pitch…

When did you realise professional rugby could be a career for you?

From the age of five all I wanted to do was play rugby for the Wallabies in winter and cricket for Australia in the summer. Rugby went professional in 1996 so being a professional became a reality just a few years later.

You played rugby sevens at the elite level. What are the three biggest differences between 7’s and 15-a-side?

So many similarities and so many differences. The main differences being your margin for error in 7’s is significantly reduced. Just one error can shift the result of the game. Also, each player must possess all the skills (Jack of all trades and a master of some) because at some stage in a tournament you will be asked to perform and execute the whole array of rugby skills.

Of the teams you played for in England, Italy and the UK, which is closest to your heart?

Italy for me delivered a romanticism and complete love for the game of rugby and the uniqueness the game has to offer. Like Italian cuisine, rugby serves up course after course of culture, diversity, experiences and like a team and its personalities combines perfectly to form a masterful result. Of course washed down with several delightful and tantalising liquids to satisfy the palate!

How did you make the transition from playing to coaching?

Right place, right time and the right experience. I had to be convinced to be a coach.

You’re currently the coach of the Australia Women’s 7’s team. How has women’s rugby changed in the last decade or so?

A decade ago it was practically non-existent and now it leads the way in women’s contact sports and has played a huge part in the perception of women in sport, resulting in increased women’s participation across all sports.

What has your rugby career both as player and coach taught you about life?

That people and relationships are the most important. The secret to life: ‘Someone to love, someone to love you and something to do.

What are the three most important qualities in a fly half?

Time and Space! Having the vision and skill set to create both, whether through silky hands and laser passing or ballistic footwork and acceleration. It also helps to have an accurate kicking game, the desire to tackle 130kg no.8’s charging at you and the strategic skills of a world champion chess player to help you guide and make decisions for fourteen barbaric gentlemen.

What was your most memorable game as a player and/or as a coach?

I can’t go past winning an Olympic Gold medal. Being on the front line and growing with a team of champions that go on to achieve the greatest sporting achievement. Cherished memories and lasting relationships all delivered in the fashion of skill, ruthlessness and humility.

Besides coaching, how do you keep in shape both physically and mentally?

By always moving. Exercise is my drug and meditation, it gives me endorphins and a space to be creative and mindful. I love lifting heavy weights and just being constantly active whether on land, on a bike or in the water. As I age I really enjoy recovery through stretching and hot and cold therapy. As a player I weirdly loved ice therapy before and after games, they made me feel energetic, light and ready!

Your favourite Karma experiences so far?

Karma just delivers every time, so I have to say our last trip to Karma Kandara, Bali. It was without our two beautiful young boys and more luxurious and memorable than our honeymoon spent in Fiji.

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