USA Rugby launches Women’s Elite Coach Pathway

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(ISN) – BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced Wednesday the Women’s Elite Coach Pathway and Elite Coach Development Program (ECDP).

USA Rugby has recognized a need to invest in the development of coaches and to provide aspiring coaches an explicit pathway to coach at the international level.

“We need a pathway and program to develop high performance coaches,” USA Rugby Director of Coaching Josh Sutcliffe said. “We need to create a larger pool of elite coaches, not just to coach the Eagles, but to help enhance the quality of the domestic game.”

The purpose of the Elite Coach Pathway is to increase the developmental opportunities of aspiring high performance coaches. Roles with various international teams will be used to provide the experience needed to enhance the skills and understanding to be an elite coach.

Coaches will enter the Elite Coach Pathway through the ECDP as “Emerging Coaches.” The Emerging Coaches will participate in an intensive, three-month program that culminates with coaching and shadowing roles for each of the participating coaches at the National All-Star Competition. The topics will cover a range of on-field and off-field responsibilities that international coaches need to understand and apply.

“Coaching international rugby is a different experience from the domestic game,” Women’s Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “This program is designed to take the top domestic coaches and help them develop the skills to coach internationally.”

The initial cohort will include current assistants with the Women’s Eagles Pathway teams along with coaches selected from the application process. The top coaches in this group will graduate to the next stage of the ECDP through the summer and will also be asked to fill various coaching roles within the Pathway programs.

“The assistant coach roles with the national teams will be filled through a merit-based process,” USA Rugby Women’s National Team Pathway Manager Tam Breckenridge said. “Performance by the coaches at the NASC will be a critical part of the selection for those roles.”

The changed approach reduces the barriers to gaining experience in a high performance setting with more opportunities for coaches to participate and learn.

“It’s an exciting time for women’s rugby and to help the game grow we need to invest in our coaches,” Sutcliffe said. “This is a great opportunity for a coach who wants to grow and develop to put their hand up and make the first step to coaching the Eagles.”

Coaches can apply until April 1 to participate in ECDP with 10 to 15 coaches selected to participate. All interested applicants must be USA Rugby Level 200 Coaches and will need to commit to a bi-weekly, distance-learning schedule. Additionally, coaches will need to be able to participate in the National All-Star Competition from May 30 to June 7 at James Madison University. The fee for the program is $900 and covers all program costs, materials, food, and accommodation at the NASC but excludes transport to the NASC.