Dani Knight is the Head of PE and Sport at Esher Sixth Form College, and she is also the Coach of our Men’s Rugby Team (with fellow teacher Paddy Waplington).

Did you know? Dani played for England as part of the England Rugby Women’s Squad until 2011.

Dani Knight photo

What or who inspired you to get into teaching?

I was working in the fitness industry and really enjoyed supporting people to reach their goals and giving them the tools to be able to do it on their own. This led me to reconsider teaching as a job and I applied to be a trainee teacher at Esher. (If anyone who had suggested it all those years before is reading this, you were right!)

What do you love about rugby?

Rugby is like a family, and it is very hard to describe to people who haven’t had the pleasure of being part of it. There is real comradery in a rugby team and if you are willing to put your body on the line in the way you do, you must really enjoy the sport and those that you are playing it with. I also really enjoy the level of skill you can display and the decision-making process to stay ahead of play. Being part of a team that will work their socks off for you is what I enjoy about the PE department staff, too!

What skills or attributes do you look for in your players/ team?

Definitely, players who can think a couple of phases ahead.  This shows that they have a very good understanding of the game and can predict play,  so that they end up in the right place at the right time. I would rather coach a squad of team players, who lead by example and display the values that rugby holds itself highly on, than a team of the most skilful individuals that don’t. The beauty of rugby is that you can run around smashing into one another, but at the end of the game shake hands, swap shirts and celebrate the sport together.

What was your most successful moment as a coach?

Playing Godalming College at the end of last season – we came back from being 30 points down to win and it was one of the greatest Esher rugby moments I had ever been part of. I’m not sure Godalming would agree, though!

What words of wisdom would you give your 16 year old self?

Stay true to your core values. Be confident to go for it. And it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – that’s on them, not you.

What advice would you give students wanting to pursue a sport professionally?

Ensure you watch the sport! This helps your understanding of the sport tactically as well as technically. I am always amazed at the lack of rugby, the rugby players actually watch! Professional sport will always want more than you think it does, so be prepared to work harder than you thought, but take all the opportunities you can and enjoy every minute because it won’t always be there.


Line Out
Esher College,
Esher College,
Rugby Scrum