Behind The Scenes | Mike Hynard
“My job at Saracens keeps me young – it’s exhilarating,” says Mike Hynard, the club’s academy manager and a man who knows a thing or two about producing young rugby talent.
Hynard spent 13 years with Saracens before joining Premiership Rugby as head of academies. He returned to StoneX Stadium in May 2017.
In his time working with the Men in Black, Hynard has not only helped transform members of the Saracens Academy into first-team regulars, but also produced numerous internationals.
England and British & Irish Lions stars Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola are just three examples of men who have reached the highest level after starting out in the Saracens Academy with Hynard.
There are many, many more besides and the production line never stops.
“The beauty of my job is it’s never ending,” Hynard adds. “As soon as you produce academy graduates who go up into the Saracens first team and start working with Mark McCall, you are already looking at what’s next and the journey that’s to come for the next crop of players.
“I’m so privileged to have worked with so many young players and coaches who have come through the Saracens system. It’s a fantastic environment to work in here.
“I would describe my time with Saracens by saying that I have grown up with the club. People say that Saracens is a family club and some might hear that and think it sounds cheesy.
“But Saracens genuinely is a part of my family. I feel at home at the club and it has played a huge part in my life for a long period of time.
“I’m very, very passionate about what I do here and sometimes, you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
Hynard admits his time away from Saracens working with Premiership Rugby was the right move at the time, but the experience rammed home to him how special the StoneX environment is.
“I got to see other academy environments in my job with Premiership Rugby and it was a good experience for me,” he says.
“I got to see the inner workings of other clubs and how they go about their systems and processes and what it made me realise is that what we were doing at Saracens was very, very good.
“At this club, everyone buys into the developmental process and I couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered the chance to come back to Saracens. I know how privileged I am to be here.
“It sounds gushy, but it’s true. I have helped play a small part in the journey for each of the players who have come through our academy.
“It does make me very proud when I see what they go on to achieve. How could it not?
“The biggest thing for me is helping players achieve their potential whether that’s playing for the Saracens first team or going on to play Test rugby or for the Lions.
“Helping players achieve their potential is my job in a nutshell, but it’s also about turning young boys into successful men. I’d like to think we’ve done a good job of doing that.”
Saracens and Hynard and rightly hugely proud of the club’s talent production line and we have seen that in action in the last two weeks with Premiership Rugby Cup action taking place.
The next generation of Saracens players beat Harlequins and then lost to London Irish in the two Premiership Rugby Cup games played this month.
“All young players want is an opportunity to play and the Premiership Cup is a brilliant vehicle for them to get a first taste of senior rugby,” Hynard says.
“It is a stepping stone for them and helps them find out where they are on their rugby journey. It might make some realise they are not quite yet where they want to be.
“For others, they might take it to it very quickly. I’m really pleased with the pipeline of talent we have coming through the academy at the moment.
“I feel we have some really good Under-18 players this season and they are about to begin playing in the Under-18 Academy league in December and January. That will huge for those young men.
“I’m excited to see what they can produce because it has been a difficult 18 months or two years for young players of that age. They have had a lot going on in their lives in terms of changes to school programmes and a lack of rugby – both of which have been caused by the pandemic.
“We have to show sympathy and empathy to each player because they will all be different. The impact of Covid-19 might mean it takes slightly longer than normal for players to develop.
“That is understandable and we have to have it in the back of our mind what they have been through and the rugby they have missed.”
Hynard’s passion for Saracens is clear. He loves every day working at the club.
He concludes: “I’m very happy with what I’m doing here and I love working with young players. Talent identification is a massive part of my job and I’m hugely passionate about it.
“I’ve got no plans to move on, but the one thing about professional sport is things change. Hopefully, I will be at Saracens for a long time to come.”