Premiership Rugby Scholarships programme shows the best of British

He’s one of the programmes most experienced and well-travelled coaches, and Gareth Hatherley-Hurford believes at the core of the Premiership Rugby Scholarships programme is exporting the benefits of English rugby to wider corners of the world.

Hatherley-Hurford has been an integral figure in this coach education programme since its inception, working with a diverse range of coaches from the United States to help enhance their expertise and improve the quality of rugby in the country.

The 37-year-old has previously lead on Premiership Rugby’s award winning social inclusion programme HITZ, before taking up a lead role at Saracens Academy.

But he is currently working on the innovative Scholarships programme, a-once-in-a-lifetime experience where Premiership Rugby provides over 50 coaches from the US the chance to travel annually to England for a week to hone their skills. in March, 2019 US coaches visited Saracens, London Irish and Harlequins. The current tour will see 26 coaches from 19 different US States.

The Scholarship winners are being provided with a comprehensive introduction to the intricacies of working at a top-tier rugby club, visiting Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints and Wasps while also completing a Level 300 training course co-delivered by Premiership Rugby and USA Rugby this week.

Hatherley-Hurford, who was in Philadelphia when the programme was first conceived, says he is a firm advocate of broadening horizons and sharing the benefits of high-quality coaching with the rest of the world.

“I’ve always been a big believer that it’s just as important to try and grow the game elsewhere as it is just to grow the game in the UK, and help players receive a high-quality experience from coaches,” he said. “I want to share the benefits of rugby with as many people as I possibly can so everybody benefits.

“The Scholarships programme is a very positive initiative – it gives some really good coaches the opportunity to develop their craft and massively benefits the experience for players who receive the coaching.

“As a result of what it’s done, coaches are now able to return to the US and deliver higher levels of coaching sessions back home.

“I find the energy and passion for coaches to get better inspiring so it’s a really beneficial scheme.

“It’s about moving the game on and really growing the standard in the US – it’s first-class and helps to drive enthusiasm among coaches and make sure that the game gets better over there.”

As part of his work on the programme, Hatherley-Hurford has run some webinars for coaches. He adds: “It has been great to be involved in the first few webinars that we have run to engage the coaches that have previously involve in the scholarship programme.

“We were fortunate to work with Paul Gustard and Harlequins on the first webinar and I really enjoyed engaging with the coaches on the last one.”

The rugby guru has developed a wide range of coaching experience, being appointed London Scottish Highlanders head coach in 2017 and taking on the 1st XV Skills coach role soon after, where he currently remains whilst also working as Rugby Lead coach at Mill Hill School in North London.

He has also spent three years at the RFU as an England Rugby Community Coach, working across the Kent and Middlesex regions delivering sessions while simultaneously completing his Level Four badge.

Having enjoyed spells as a RFU Educator and Mentor and in England’s Performance Partnership at Saracens Academy, Hatherley-Hurford without doubt represents one of the Scholarships programme’s most eminent figures.

His experience has not just been confined to the UK, however – he has also delivered the programme on the ground in the US, crossing the pond to disseminate his expertise in the country where the initiative makes such a difference.

And, while the delivery of the scheme remains similar in both nations, Hatherley-Hurford believes being in the US has enabled him to see the more direct benefits personally.

“I learned a lot in the USA but I wouldn’t say there’s any real difference between the way the initiatives are delivered in either country,” he added.

“But the one real difference I would say there though is that when you’re in the US you become really immersed in the environment and it allows you to see directly how it impacts coaching.

“You can really see what they’re trying to do to grow the game and what they’re doing in order to mildly adapt their approach.

“It shows you the impact of what you are doing and the impact of how you’re delivering it.

“It’s more relevant and allows them to connect greater with what you’re doing and saying, and share their experiences with others.

“It’s been really, really enjoyable to do – America was where it all started and it’s absolutely brilliant to deliver the benefits of our high-standard of coaching to them.”

Applications for the 2020 Premiership Rugby Scholarships visit will open early in January, 2020. To be in with a chance of winning, you will need to submit a video outlining how the experience will positively impact your coach delivery and you must have completed your USA Rugby Level 200 coaching qualification prior to the trip.

In addition to the Friends of the British Council and USA Rugby the following partners have been instrumental in the Premiership Rugby Scholarships programme: Austin Huns Rugby Club, Austin Valkyries Women’s Rugby Club, Carolina’s Geographic Rugby Union, Glendale Raptors, Rugby ATL, Rugby United New York, Rugby New Jersey, Saint Thomas Aquinas Rugby, Southern California Rugby Football Union and the United States Rugby Foundation.

To access the last webinar with Gareth, please CLICK HERE