Premiership Rugby Scholarship Program Exceeding Expectations

30 coaches return from England with an array of coaching techniques and theories – and a revived sense of purpose for coaching.

Exceeded Expectations. That is what many scholarship awardees replied when asked about their experience at the 2019 Premiership Rugby Scholarship program organized by Premiership Rugby and Friends of the British Council. Earlier this month, 30 coaches traveled to England to take part in a week-long immersive professional development experience. While there, attendees learned an array of coaching techniques and theories which can be applied to their local rugby community.

“I saw this as an opportunity to see if my current philosophies and coaching style aligned with what is currently being done at the higher rugby levels. I also wanted to challenge myself to find new ways to think about various situations, both tactical and technical,” said scholarship awardee, JK Anderson.

Chris Washburn, another awardee echoed what Anderson hoped to get out of the experience. “I was looking to gain best practices to improve upon my rugby practice as well as gain new tools to help facilitate the growth of rugby in the US,” Washburn said.

But what Anderson and Washburn quickly realized was that this program was going to offer so much more.

“It exceeded my expectations in so many ways.  I was pushed mentally and physically all week long.  The coaching modules forced me to think differently about my current coaching practices” Washburn expressed.  

“We had opportunities to really hone our coaching skills by being challenged to think a little differently, being open to new ideas, and finding ways that would put our players in environments to make their own decisions – in many ways, the trip reminded us why we coach” Anderson replied.

“Also, and perhaps more importantly,” Washburn added, “I made friends with 29 other coaches, including several former USA Eagles”

Anderson agreed, “The reflection time and individual conversations I had with many of the coaches in our groups was where I came to realize that we are our best resource. This opportunity has created a never-ending source of knowledge that we all can tap at any time with a simple phone call or email to one another.”

Daily activities of the program were structured to provide classroom sessions followed by practical application and time for reflection. A couple of site seeing opportunities were also thrown in, like Twickenham Stadium and the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Observation and analysis was also a big part of the time spent, “We had the opportunity to visit various professional training environments to observe how sessions were run, and how coaches interact with players and staff” Anderson elaborated.

All of the attendees also completed a Level 300 coaching training course during the week.

“I look forward to implementing several new tips and techniques I learned while in England” said Washburn. “For example, I will try to speak less, observe more, and let my players work out more problems on their own.  I also plan to ask for more feedback from my players and coaching staff.  Finally, I will try to be more clear with my instructions, keeping my comments and thoughts simple so that the kids can better understand.” Washburn continued.

Anderson had similar take-ways, but added community engagement to the list. “Community engagement is a big part of what I saw as we interacted with various clubs. I want to explore how can we do that here, so that we add value to our team and further increase awareness of the game”.

All in all, the coaches are returning with a revived and refresh take on their own coaching techniques which they are determined to implement to encourage more ruggers to get involved. “Having the ability to use rugby as the platform to inspire and a difference in the lives of those we coach, well beyond their rugby days, is why many of us coach” Anderson followed up.

“I can say that from the many discussions, feedback received, and reflections, that I have come away better as a coach and person, ready to bring back what I learned to my players and coaching staff,” Anderson concluded.

Applications for the Premiership Rugby Scholarship intake in November is now OPEN. Submit now for your opportunity to learn and experience the very same this fall.


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