In an effort to address the question that Alex Goff of RugbyMag recently asked in an article titled “lack of an HP Plan must be addressed” this paper will outline some thoughts and offer up a workable solution.

This paper, will outline the issues, offer up a reasonable solution to the challenges and a way to pay for the solution over time. Any plan moving forward, will need a vision and I think this paper addresses that.

“Grow the base, manage the Top”

Currently, any High Performance program for USA Rugby will inherently run into challenges, some as outlined in Alex Goff’s Article listed above. Here are some issues we need to overcome as I have studied the issue over time.

  1. Grow the base sufficiently so that we have 500,000 K-12 + College members. (based on the size of our geography) Many reasons why this number is important ie: Larger Pool of Athletes, better concentration of teams in a geographic area, better recognition on and on.
  2. Develop the local SBO’s to the point that we have school teams or clubs that play in a competitive league of at least 12 games per year- not 2 or 3 games that are competitive and another 10 that are blowouts. Especially at the u16 age, In addition to a competitive 7s brackets during a defined time of year.
  3. Identify those u15-19 age athletes for regional All-Star competition, for the most part this is happening all over our country, but continued development and advancement along with ID Tracking and Development from a regional basis needs to continue to develop for both 15s & 7s.
  4. Raise the profile on University Campuses so that we can truly get to 25 or 30 High Performance Centers for Blue Chip Athletes across America. This would require targeting schools; developing relationships and providing education and understanding on the Sport and its potential.
  5. Identify those athletes age 20-23 + international capable cross over athletes in addition to the current group of domestic  International Athletes- a transparent pathway to our National Team, in addition to testing & appropriate competition vs Peers for merit based inclusion into the age appropriate National Team.

Each HP Coach, could look to manage/track or maybe work with a Private Academy to track about 30 athletes- 20 male/10 female at any given maximum amount.

When addressing these challenges, the question becomes how to overcome the challenges in a country as massive as The United States.

One way we can advance our High Performance  is with the following structure, in an effort to break down the size of our country into 12 High Performance Regions with addition of High Performance Coaches in each region.

                                                                  CEO

Coaching Certification/HP Department/National Teams/Referee/Youth Development

                                                 12 Regional HP Coaches                              

     SBO’s/College Conferences/Olympic Development Academy/International Athletes

Why 12 Regional High Performance Coaches?

  • Having 12 regional HP Coaches/Development Directors working in this capacity will allow for Geographic Challenges we have, in developing coaches and athletes in addition to ID & Tracking- It could be 10 or 20 as well overtime.
  • These regional /HP Coaches Roles would primarily be as follows:
    • Delivery of Rookie Rugby Program Coaching Development at the SBO level to continue to grow the k-8 programing, for continued vertical growth of the current club structure, and to work on new opportunity’s to coach the Rookie Rugby Coaches in different settings for Boys & Girls club or schools or whatever the SBO is looking to achieve.
    • Delivery of Continuing Education Coaching Camps to the SBO, College Conferences and GU’s in each region. Ie: law changes in scrum engagement; establish regional camps to get up to date, and to bring in outside Clinicians as necessary for effective delivery of the skill. Could also be, Defensive Sessions, Managing the Breakdown or whatever is needed to continue to advance skill development at the regional level and to elevate the competition.
    • Work with the SBO’s All Start Teams in the region as a coaching resource, work with athletes to identify any International Caliber Athletes.
    • Work to identify the University Programs most likely to become part of the Women’s Emerging Sports, and Men’s Elevated or Varsity Club Status on Campus.
    • Grow the Sport, in working with the SBO’s and University Conferences establish benchmarks for growth and providing the resources of coaching the coaches to make them better, and this will provide the leverage for growth.
    • Work with, and continue to Develop High Performance International Athletes of All Ages. This interaction should cover some of the basic pieces of High Performance: Time Management, S+C, Nutrition, Medical, Mental & Skill Development and the delivery can be accomplished vie the following.
      • Establishing a Regional Academy for testing and reporting
      • Work with the Current Private ODA like a Serevi or Tiger Rugby
      • Work with the Regional USOC resources
      • Work with Regional University to support the various needs
      • Work with the SBO’s and its HP Structure and try to enhance the experience of the current athlete program.

Costs & Budget

With the addition of these Regional HP Coaches, I would assume that a reasonable base salary of $65,000 + $8,000 for benefits and another modest $27,000 for budgeting regional travel, hotel, coaching equipment ECT for a total of $100,000 per Coach.

Each of these positions could be paid for in a 3-5 via accelerated growth or maybe 5-7 years with modest growth:

  1. Grow each region by about 2000 High School Students, by coaching current coaches and working with the SBO’s to find new areas of growth and assisting in coaching the coaches and bringing in the Coaching Certification team of Coaches.
  2. Growing the region by about 3000 Rookie Rugby Students
  3. Modest Growth in  Collegiate Rugby
  4. Holding approximately 12 coaching clinics per year throughout the region.

*if a region is 3 states, and a Coach was able to work with 3 SBO’s to help develop new programs with support of on-going coaching programs, the 2000 High School Athletes is about 20-30 new programs in again over a 3-5 year timeframe is not too much of a stretch- and again, the SBO’s would manage most of the logistics and identifying potential coaches.

Better Outcome

With the addition of 12 Professional Coaches, coaching In-country, we would be able to develop a deeper bench for Coaching Selections to our various USA National Teams. We would be able to provide a consistent experience for the Athlete Identification, Athlete testing metrics, Athlete mentoring and development and tracking. We would be able to Grow the Game on a Regional Basis with Metrics and Accountability, and to Coach the Local Coaches UP on advancing the Game. In short, we would be able to better develop a culture, an Identity for each major region throughout our country which should propel our country forward.

A final word, there are other ways to develop a High Performance “Plan”, and various Items that this writer may have left off or did not address. This would be an open call for input- please feel free to add to, critique or tear apart it’s our game and we should all put fourth our passionate beliefs.

Thank you for reading,

Craig Brown