Blog: Premiership Rugby Scholars embracing English experience as programme hits its stride

First off, I think it was hard to believe we’d ever make the cut. It wasn’t clear if this was an opportunity we’d be considered for. We encouraged others to apply and equally had people chase us to apply – it would be great to see everyone’s videos over a beer… there would certainly be some laughs.

What struck both of us on Monday morning was the diversity of people in the scholarship group. Rachel trains a couple of dozen girls a week at Lafayette College, while Wesley trains train 65 boys a week from Grade 8 up to Varsity age at Jesuit High School, New Orleans.

There are even coaches here that never played and got engaged through their children and families. It was definitely reassurance that this was an opportunity for coaches from all backgrounds delivering varied programmes.

Not only are there coaches from all over the country, but peoples playing levels and coaching levels are so broad.

Gareth’s module this morning got us to think how we develop our coaching style and coaching process. Given that the experience of the coaches here is so varied I was intrigued to see how these sessions would run.

Instantly it was clear that everyone here is bringing something unique. Through Gareth’s leadership and the groups cohesiveness from the outset, everyone has been listened to and contributed to the discussion – everyone’s opinion has counted.

Validity in the community – Wesley

It’s just a little melting pot of Chilli – Gumbo if you ask Wesley – the more you can just keep adding, the better it gets. Gareth encouraged this throughout and Premiership Rugby is driving the understating that coach delivery at every level and in every setting is as important as the next.

Before travelling to the UK, the New Orleans Gold head coach, my local MLR team, came to me and asked if I could come back after the trip to tell him what he was doing wrong.

While we are back-to-back state champions, I was incredibly humbled by the fact that he would listen to me; to bring back the knowledge and experience that I will gain.

It shows the positive state that Rugby in the USA is in and the willingness of coaches at the highest level in our country to learn and develop. The Premiership Rugby Scholarship programme has given me validity in the community I work.

That said New Orleans Gold have equally been so supportive with sessions with both players and coaches attending.

Additionally, this is an opportunity for me to learn how to develop and grow my programmes.

It’s so hard to get things off the ground! So few kids turn up! How can we engage new groups? I have come here to understand how Premiership Rugby has run its community programmes, what can I learn from our big brother to get the programmes thriving.

It’s fantastic that Premiership Rugby sees the opportunity to support the growth of the sport back home.

Tears flowing for William Webb Ellis – Rachel

My college is 190 years old. I consider this well established. What an incredible experience it has been to visit Rugby School! Not only is this the birth place of our sport – a school, that is more than 400 years old – but a school that’s alumni keeps giving back.

You just see that rugby is just in the blood here.

I cried when I saw the William Webb Ellis statue! I have hats with me of all the clubs I have played for and took a photo with them all by the statue. This was one way of me thanking all those teams that have supported my journey!

It’s not about me – its about the 250 women who are currently playing in our league, the East Pennsylvania Rugby Union. It’s about their journey and how I can support them through this experience.

It is very humbling to know that you don’t have to be an elite player or coach to be involved in Rugby and that is reflected by Premiership Rugby’s Scholarship programme. There are programmes for everyone to be engaged in.

Blog from Rachel Grispon and Wesley Eustis