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The man Sam Burgess once called ‘a snake’ – Who is new Oldham interim head coach Mike Ford?

From starting his career at Wigan, Great Britain caps, an infamous spat with Sam Burgess and now becoming Oldham interim head coach, it’s fair to say Mike Ford has had a rollercoaster career in both codes of rugby. 

Mike Ford has taken over as interim head coach of Oldham, following the departure of Stuart Littler yesterday. But just who is Mike Ford?

As a player, Ford represented Wigan, Leigh, Oldham, Castleford and Warrington, as well as a spell down under for South Queensland; however he may be better known in ‘the other code’ for his coaching career. Ford has coached internationally for Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium and the British and Irish Lions; and at club level has coached Saracens, Bath, Toulon and Leicester Tigers.

His time at Bath brought about probably his biggest challenge, the fallout with Sam Burgess. In 2015, ‘slammin Sam’ make the much trodden path from League to Union to sign for Bath. His reputation followed and he was swiftly selected for the England side, however a position mishap saw him fall out with Mike Ford in fairly public fashion.

Mike Ford believed Sam Burgess would suit a role in the forwards, however England decided to utilise Burgess as a back, namely at inside centre. This caused a fallout between the pair, and ultimately led the pair to a face to face in which Burgess called Ford “a snake”.

Speaking on the House of Rugby podcast back in 2020, Burgess described the events of his return to Bath following being knocked out of the World Cup: “I went straight into his office and said ‘Mike I don’t trust you, I think you have been playing games behind my back, you have used me as a bit of a pawn in your game of chess, I can’t put my boots on and play for you every week’.

“I will never forget his face when I said, ‘I can’t respect you, I think you are a bit of a snake.’ I remember the quiver that I got from him.”

Burgess eventually found his way back to the NRL, however Ford stayed in Union until his involvement at Oldham.

In March of this year, Mike Ford led a consortium to take over Oldham, a club he played 112 games for during his playing career.

Speaking on taking over at Oldham, Ford said: “We are really excited about the future of the Roughyeds. It’s close to all our hearts and we know the importance of a vibrant, thriving Oldham rugby to the town and its people.” 

He added: “We certainly don’t take our responsibility as club custodians lightly and it’s our vision to give the people of Oldham a rugby league club they can be proud of, a club that they are excited and inspired by and one that they can identify with.” 

The club have been struggling in recent times. A former top-flight side, Oldham now find themselves in League One. Stuart Littler has guided them to fifth in the table this campaign, however he has been moved on, with the club citing the need for ‘a new direction’ in time for the playoffs. Mike Ford, part owner of the club, will lead the team for the remainder of the season in his first League coaching job since his last spell there in 2000.

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