Premiership Rugby scholarships awarded to 26 American coaches

A team of 26 American rugby coaches are set for the experience of a lifetime this October, as they prepare for a trip across the pond to take part in the Premiership Rugby Scholarships programme.

In partnership with Friends of the British Council (FOBC), Premiership Rugby will provide the coaches not only with a comprehensive introduction to the ins-and-outs of a top-tier English rugby club but will leave with a USA Rugby Level 300 coaching certification, which will prove particularly valuable upon their return home.

As a legacy of the Premiership Rugby match played in Philadelphia in October 2017, between Saracens and Newcastle Falcons, this is the third group of Scholarship winners who have come to the UK, following in the footsteps of those who made the trip last March.

And former USA Eagle and Head of Sports Partnerships for FOBC, Dallen Stanford, is thrilled by the opportunities that have been borne out of the collaboration, resulting in a truly unique programme.

“We want these passionate coaches to return to the US to further positively influence their communities, their players, and share the knowledge they’ve gained.,” he said.

“The level 300 coaching certification is not frequently offered, certainly not in all States.

“We felt it would be a remarkable week for our coaches to experience professional rugby in the UK, interact with each other, visit the birthplace of the game – at Rugby School – and learn more about rugby culture in England.”

“This group has a wonderful balance of youth and experience, spread across 19 states. Congratulations to all selected! Those that just missed out will have another opportunity in 2020.”

· Darrin Barner (Wayne, Nebraska)
· Nicole Bernsen (Orono, Maine)
· Olivia Benzan-Daniel (Waltham, Massachusetts)
· Blake Bradford (Atlanta, Georgia)
· Jessica Burda (Madison, Wisconsin)
· Alex Carlson (Spotsylvania, Virginia)
· Sarah Chobot (Glendale, Colorado)
· Austin Dacanay (Atlanta, Georgia)
· Jessi Brewer (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
· Ron Eriksmoen (Albert Lea, Minnesota)
· Tom Feury (Morristown, New Jersey)
· Simon Gillespie (New York, New York)
· Steve Harris (Boca Raton, Florida)
· Holly Iker (Norman, Oklahoma)
· Kaitlyn Kelly (Washington, DC)
· Boyd LeJeune (Alexandria, Louisiana)
· Renee McLane (Savannah, Georgia)
· Timaris Montano (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
· Jacob Nelson (San Diego, California)
· Ben Nicholls (Huntsville, Utah)
· Ben Reynolds (Costa Mesa, California)
· James Saddler (Henniker, New Hampshire)
· Rick Sullivan (Middletown, New Jersey)
· Mose Timoteo (Lafayette, Colorado)
· April White (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
· Marcus Wood (Washington, DC)

The Premiership Rugby Scholarship winners will experience what it’s like to coach professional rugby in the UK, visiting Northampton Saints, Wasps and Leicester Tigers whilst taking part in a series of high-level rugby and knowledge transfer sessions.

The Level 300 coaching training course, will be co-delivered by Premiership Rugby and USA Rugby.

Coaches will also learn about and engage with Premiership Rugby’s award-winning community programmes 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 instil the core values of rugby.

This short-term intensive programme 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.

After its inception back in 2018, the programme has since gone from strength-to-strength, with the response proving overwhelmingly upbeat, as explained Premiership Rugby’s International Community Programmes Manager Dan Absolon.

“The feedback has been incredibly positive,” he said. “We ensure that all the coaches get a true taste of the rugby culture here in England, but really the proximity they get to the clubs is the key to the trip.

“When they arrive in October they will have the opportunity to speak with a Director of Rugby, watch the players train and really get immersed in the club.”

The Premiership Rugby Scholarships initiative is funded primarily by Friends of the British Council, through the generosity of individual donors, foundations, corporations, clubs and organisations, who recognise the value of international exchange and networks for professional development.

“We would like to thank our partners: Austin Huns RFC, Austin Valkyries, Carolina’s Geographic Union, Glendale Raptors, Rugby ATL, Rugby New Jersey, Rugby United New York, Saint Thomas Aquinas Rugby, Southern California Rugby Football Union and the United States Rugby Foundation for all their support,” said Stanford.

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