If you had told Christian when he was growing up in the Rhondda Valley in Wales that by the age of 32 he would be the head coach of the Polish national men’s rugby team, he would not have believed you.

However, as we all know, the beauty of this great sport is that it is a global game which offers players and coaches opportunities to see the world and often, make their mark far from home. 

And Hitt is certainly making his mark with Poland’s XV-a-side outfit, leading them to two wins in his first two competitive games in charge to date.  

In the Rugby Europe Trophy 2021-22 competition - the feeder into the Rugby Europe Championship - the Poles have recently defeated Ukraine and Germany with Hitt at the helm and now count themselves among the top 30 in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini for the first time in a long time. 

And now they are preparing to take on Switzerland in a home match in capital city Warsaw this coming Saturday as they look to make it three wins on the spin in the Trophy.

“We are keen to keep the momentum from the wins over Ukraine and Germany going, but we know that Switzerland are a good side and we will need to be very focused if we are to make it three wins from three in the Trophy,” Hitt, who took up his post in April this year, said. 

“Since I came into the Polish set-up I have spent time trying to get to know all of the players individually and find out what makes them tick.

“We have also spent quite a bit of time as a group listening to the individual stories of each of the players and just what it means to play for Poland.

“And what has shone through is that whether they were born and brought up here or whether their parents or grandparents are Polish, they all have their own reasons and driving forces behind why they want to succeed.

“Myself and my fellow coaches have tried to harness that positive individual energy into the collective and what I have seen so far is a group of players who really want to work hard for each other.

“That was evident when we won 27-24 in Ukraine last month and when we beat Germany 21-16 last Saturday in Gydnia, while the governing body is really keen to grow the game here and they have put in hard work to make sure the matches are on national television and the like.

“Part of the process of getting to know the players really well individually over the summer months before we played our first friendly against Hungary in September was to see what kind of balance we had in the squad.

“Through that process, myself any my coaching staff have been able to identify younger players who we want to bring into the set-up and now we have a wider base to pick from and competition for places which means that every training camp we have is of a high quality because everyone wants a spot in the matchday 23s that we end up selecting.”

Hitt mentions his coaching team and amongst those working alongside him with Poland are backs and attack coach Morgan Stoddart and scrum coach Gwesyn Price-Jones.

Stoddart won eight caps for Wales between 2007 and 2011 and Hitt believes he brings an “edge” to things.

“Morgan has played the game at the highest level and knows it inside out, the guys are really enjoying learning from him and he just brings an edge to things which is helping us make small steps forward every time we are together as a group,” Hitt explained.

“As a coaching group we want the players to grow on and off the field by building a culture which helps them be as good as they can be. 

“Morgan has been pivotal to that and we feel at the minute the squad is in a good place, but we need to keep building with each game and the Switzerland one is the only one on our minds just now.

“Other people like strength & conditioning coach Osian Edwards and video analyst Joel Parry have really helped the guys and just made everything around our preparation for games that bit more professional.”

Poland are up to 29th place in the latest men’s world rankings, but how did Hitt end up coaching a national team many miles from home in his early 30s?

“I grew up in the Rhondda Valley and then studied at the University of Glamorgan [now called the University of South Wales],” Hitt, who lives with his partner and young son when not in Poland, said.

“After university I started working for the Welsh Rugby Union pretty much straight away and first of all I was coaching youngsters aged four, five and six upwards in primary schools.

“Then I gradually moved up the ladder during my nine and a half years working for the organisation and that gave me opportunities to learn from some great people.

“For example, I was brought into shadow Gareth Williams within the national men’s sevens set-up and everyone I worked with at all levels, I just tried to pick their brains and learn from them.

“I also coached within club rugby at Pontypool and was given opportunities by Terry Sands to coach Samurai in sevens tournaments around the world and that was great.

“In 2019, former Poland head coach Duane Lindsay invited me into the set-up to do some work with the defence and the forwards and then in 2020 I was lucky enough to learn from Damian McGrath with Germany.

“When the opportunity to come back to Poland and work in this country came up earlier this year I was really keen to give it a go.

“I may not have played at a high level myself, but I feel that I have packed a lot of rugby experience into the last decade or more and hopefully that stands me in good stead to take rugby in Poland forward.”

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