Premiership Rugby Scholarship winners announced

Emerging from more than 200 applications the lucky 30 will now spend a week in England as part of a multi-year initiative between USA Rugby and Premiership Rugby.

This unique program will support the development of the game in the US by empowering coaches through immersive professional development experiences in the UK.

The Premiership Rugby Scholarship winners will experience what it’s like to coach professional rugby in the UK visiting Saracens, Harlequins and London Irish whilst taking part in a series of high-level rugby and knowledge transfer sessions. During the week in England, coaches will take part in a Level 300 coaching training course, which will be co-delivered by Premiership Rugby and USA Rugby. Sport England’s Bisham Abbey will host the coaches from March 17-24.

When asked about the importance of a program like this, Women’s Eagles Head Coach Rob Cain noted, “Premiership Rugby opening its doors to U.S. rugby scholars is such an invaluable learning experience for all participants to be exposed to not only some of the best coaching practices, but also some of the best people. This highlights not just the level of detail needed but also how that detail should be delivered to continuously challenge and develop players.”

Coaches will also learn about and engage with Premiership Rugby’s award-winning community programs that use rugby as a tool for social change, covering all methodologies used in these life changing initiatives. Coaches will gain insight into various ways Premiership Rugby clubs are engaging their players, fans and communities to instill the core values of rugby.

Premiership Rugby Scholarships Winners

Eddie Buckner (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
Christina Gein (Sacramento, California)
Reginald James (San Fernando Valley, California)
Joshua Pendergrass (Grand Junction, Colorado)
Blake Bradford (Atlanta, Georgia)
Seamus Fitzgerald (Laie, Hawaii)
Jamie Stephen (Chicago, Illinois)
Dave Fee (Bloomington, Indiana)
Kirsten Abel Ruch (Lawrence, Kansas)
Westley Eustis (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Jenny Lui (Boston, Massachusetts)
Tran Nguyen (Worcester, Massachusetts)
Andy Dauser (Rockford, Michigan)
Garrett Bender (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
John Watson (St. Louis, Missouri)
Chris Washburn (Dunellen, New Jersey)
Greg Conover (Richland, New Jersey)
Rhiannon Marie Filer (Buffalo, New York)
Lara Vivolo (New York, New York)
JK Anderson (Charlotte, North Carolina)
David Krosner (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Sunny Myers (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Cory Schlack (Fargo, North Dakota)
Lisa May (Battle Ground, Oregon)
Rachel Grispon (Easton, Pennsylvania)
Patrick Artz (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Samuel Johnson (Memphis, Tennessee)
Jeff Hullinger (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Victor Drover (Sussex, Wisconsin)
John Waliszewski (Waukesha, Wisconsin)

This short-term intensive program will be accompanied by long-term mentorship through an online coach education platform, with all participants in the Premiership Rugby Scholarship program having access to this ongoing resource. This includes the 14 US coaches that formed the pilot group in March, 2018.

Men’s Eagles Head Coach Gary Gold added, “To continuously grow the sport of rugby, it is important to engage in shared knowledge with established programs within the sport. The Premiership Rugby scholarship is an excel-lent opportunity to do just that under the direction of a world-class competition. Premiership Rugby features proven coaches who have a clear understanding of how to help players achieve their true potential within a highly competitive and well-organized rugby environment.” 

The Premiership Rugby Scholarships initiative is funded primarily by Friends of the British Council, through the generosity of individual donors, foundations, corporations, clubs and organizations, who recognize the value of international exchange and networks for professional development. Our partners include Rugby New Jersey, Southern California Rugby Football Union, Carolina’s Geographical Union and Atlanta Major League Rugby.

Coaches will also experience the following:

  • Attend a Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixture
  • Appear as an audience member on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight program
  • Tour of Rugby School, the birthplace of the game
  • London sightseeing tour

Those coaches not selected for this tour will have another opportunity this year, with a second group traveling in the fall. Online video submissions for the second group will open in June.

World Rugby High Performance Academy another educational experience for Lawrence

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Former Men’s Junior All-American Head Coach and current technical advisor at Life University Scott Lawrence recently participated at the World Rugby High Performance Academy in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The six-day program, according to World Rugby, was “designed to encourage interaction between the three strands of Coaching, Match Officiating and Strength & Conditioning.”

Representing USA Rugby referees was High Performance Referee Manager Richard Every, and on the strength and conditioning front was Spring Hill College Director of Rugby and Men’s Junior All-American Strength and Conditioning Coach Justin Goonan.

“We want to produce a spectator-friendly game that’s non-stop action filled with speed and accuracy,” Lawrence said of the three tracks learning from one another at the academy. “For that, it’s a clear understanding of the laws of the game and how they will be refereed so that we play within them without stoppage, as well as leveraging strength and conditioning as a vehicle for the execution of the game based on trained physical abilities.”

It’s been a busy 2017 on the pitch for Lawrence, who’s a Development Senior Director at Oracle. The year started with Lawrence in London where he spent five days shadowing the Aviva Premiership’s Harlequins Football Club. Upon returning stateside, Lawrence led Life University to an undefeated regular season before the Running Eagles suffered their lone defeat of the 2016-17 season to Saint Mary’s College in the D1A Rugby National Championship.

Most recently, Lawrence had the opportunity to immerse himself with the Men’s Eagles coaching staff in their lead up to the 2017 Emirates Airline Summer Series, and through the team’s fixtures against Ireland and Georgia. Still, the already accomplished coach believes there’s always room for improvement.

“Continuing education is a must – no matter what field you’re in,” Lawrence stated. “Coaches owe it to their athletes to look for ways to get better. The key thing is to not just copy and paste the information you’re learning, but to copy and edit, then paste. Make it work for you.”

Lawrence’s methods in coaching enhancement appear to be working. World Rugby High Performance Consultant Dave Hadfield, who was one of the consultants leading the academy’s coaching track, left with high regards for the American.

“Scott represented the U.S. very well and made strong contributions,” complimented Hadfield. “He’s a smart coach who came across well in his on-the-grass coaching and in the classroom sessions. I wish him well as he moves forward in his coaching career.”

Whitewater, seven other emerge as Men's DII Cup Quarterfinalists

GLENDALE, Colo. – Eight Men’s Division II teams survived pool play of the 2017 USA Rugby College 7s National Championships to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals. Wisconsin-Whitewater and UNC-Charlotte went a perfect 3-0 during pool stagers, and six other teams did enough to stay in the Cup competition that begins Sunday, May 21 at 9 a.m. MT and will be broadcasted live on The Rugby Channel.

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Two wins and lone loss were good enough for Hartford, North Carolina State, Southern Connecticut and William Paterson to burst onto the Cup Quarterfinals. Drexel and Endicott, meanwhile, produced positive point differentials despite posting 1-2 records to fill out the last two spots in the Cup Quarterfinals.



Additional hardware will be up for grabs for the four teams that are heading to Sunday’s consolation bracket. 2013 College 7s National Championship Principia will take on Saint Louis University, and 15s Semifinalist from the fall Norwich will battle UT-San Antonio.