A record number of American coaches benefitted from the once-in-a-lifetime Premiership Rugby Scholarships experience in 2019, as the programme returned bigger and better.
The ground-breaking initiative saw 55 coaches from 31 states travel to England across two trips to discover what it’s like to coach professional rugby in England through immersive experiences at six of our Premiership Rugby clubs.
And now applications have opened for the next trip which will take place in April. Click here for full details.
Saracens, London Irish and Harlequins hosted the first group of winners in March 2019 before the second band of coaches were welcomed by Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints and Wasps in October.
The programme, delivered in partnership with Friends of the British Council and USA Rugby, offered them the chance to take part in a series of high-level rugby and knowledge transfer sessions.
Wayne Morris the Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby said: “The Scholarships programme began in 2018 and thanks to our partners at Friends of the British Council and USA Rugby we are proud to have played a big part in the development of dozens of Amercan coaches. When they visited the UK they received unprecedented access to some of the best rugby minds in the game and when the next group arrives in April the next group they will receive a unique money can’t buy experience, so I would encourage all US coaches to consider this incredible opportunity.”
During their week in England, last October, the most recent group of coaches took part in a Level 300 coaching certification course and learned about Premiership Rugby’s award-winning community programmes.
The programme is primarily funded by Friends of the British Council and Director of Sports Partnerships’ Dallen Stanford hailed the scheme for the impact it is having on coaches from across the pond.
“We’re extremely proud to have had more than 50 coaches experience professional rugby in England and take part in the highly desirable and much needed Level 300 coach education course,” he said.
“In one year, this initiative has positively impacted 31 different communities, touching thousands of lives through the sport of rugby.
“Our coaches have brought back knowledge about working with traditionally underrepresented groups through Premiership Rugby’s Project Rugby program; the education and employability initiative called HITZ; as well as Tackling Health and Move Like A Pro which inspires long-term lifestyle change across the rugby fan community.
“The greatest asset here is the access our coaches are getting inside Premiership Rugby. And this goes beyond just meeting some of the world’s best minds in the game, but on-going monthly webinars delivered by these professionals.
“Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Wasps, Saracens, London Irish and Harlequins clubs are eager to support the development of the game in the US, and through the success of our program over the past 18 months we now have the remaining Premiership teams asking when we will be planning to see them. That’s wonderful to hear!”
One of those to benefit from the March intake of Premiership Rugby Scholarship winners was David Krosner, from Raleigh, North Carolina, who was looking to develop his coaching career.
“I saw the scholarship programme advertised throughout the rugby community,” he said. “I thought it seemed like a fantastic opportunity having been away from the game for so long.”
A further 26 coaches then arrived at the end of October for another comprehensive introduction to the ins-and-outs of top-tier English rugby, including Louisiana’s Boyd LeJeune.
The 47-year-old, who works in training and development at the Office of Juvenile Justice in the US state of Louisiana, wanted to learn more about how to use rugby as a vehicle for social change.
“I was really excited to learn and meet a group of new people – it’s been such a valuable experience and I love hearing about people’s personal stories and the certain values that they hold,” he said.
“People love to belong to something when it is powerful and positive. This is a very inclusive atmosphere, and everyone feels like they can belong, so it’s a great thing.
“This experience has been great – to have that exposure is amazing and I have found it incredibly valuable. It is really top-notch and the focus of the programme is just all so positive.”
Jessica Burda Leslie was one of the coaches on the trip aiming to help grow the women’s game and introduce the sport to new audiences in her country and said she was blown away by the experience.
“It’s hard when you’re growing up as a girl to envisage a professional pathway into something that could be a career, if you don’t see people like you,” said the USA Rugby educator.
“This trip has been fantastic, we have a really great diverse group of coaches and everyone brings a lot of insight from different levels.”
Olivia Benzan-Daniel was also thrilled to gain valuable experience from the programme, paying testament to the different Premiership Rugby clubs she visited along the way.
“I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience, it has been fantastic. What I’ve liked is we’ve gone to really different clubs, Wasps, Saints and at Tigers,” she said.
“I want to bring more of a player focus back from this experience. I thought I was player focused before but the session we had on player welfare made me realise I could do way more.”
Applications for the 2020 Scholarship visit are now open. 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, Colorado 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.
Premiership Rugby Scholarships winners from October visit:
Darrin Barner (Wayne, Nebraska), Nicole Bernsen (Orono, Maine), Olivia Benzan-Daniel (Waltham, Massachusetts), Blake Bradford (Atlanta, Georgia), Jessi Brewer (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Jessica Burda (Madison, Wisconsin), Alex Carlson (Spotsylvania, Virginia), Sarah Chobot (Glendale, Colorado), Austin Dacanay (Atlanta, Georgia), 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)