by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
The first half of the year is generally the most demanding for everyone at USA Rugby, the Emirates National Championship Series reach their conclusion and the international window (June) opens for the Eagles. I enjoyed watching the The Emirates National Championship Finals, such passion and real quality, well done to all the teams who participated! The Eagles Men and Women Sevens teams played their final tournaments of the season, London for the men and Amsterdam for the women. On top of this pretty hectic schedule we also hosted our first official IRB International 15’s event, the Junior World Trophy, the State Based Rugby Organizations and Congress held their annual meetings in Houston, the Board met in New York and we held our first All American College Combine. The Women’s National team held a camp for nearly 100 players in Colorado and the All American High School team commenced their preparations for their challenging South American tour.
Highlights, there were many! The Mike Tolkin Eagles era opened their account with a game they should have won in Canada followed by an excellent performance against the powerful Georgians. A capacity crowd in Glendale was followed a week later with a record crowd of over 17,200 at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston versus Italy. A superb event and a crowd that really got behind the Eagles, but lets be brutally honest, with only 13 players on the field in the final quarter, the Eagles were not going to pull off a memorable victory!
I believe that the record crowd in Houston was the culmination of a number of factors including a new stadium, support of the City, a passionate hard working local organizing committee, solid marketing and a much awaited return of international rugby to Texas. Add to that the growth of the game, increased media interest and a win the previous week against Georgia for the Eagles. Well done to all that made this work, and thanks to everyone for their support of the Eagles. Mike Tolkin has an exciting squad, he is creating an excellent environment and is building on the progress made during the last 2 years.
Whilst there was plenty of excitement around the Eagles performances, in Salt Lake City USA Rugby hosted the Junior World Trophy. It was our first IRB International Fifteens event, and despite plenty of challenges, we delivered a quality event, with some exciting rugby and passionate support. The four game days had capacity crowds and a Junior World Trophy win for the Eagles was certainly welcomed by the home crowd!
Coach Scott Lawrence and his coaching team did a terrific job preparing the team, the hard work started a year ago after what was a disappointing Junior World Trophy in Georgia. We recognized that in order to compete we had to be physically strong and develop our individual skills and units. We also had a squad that could compete up front in the tight, as well as wide out in open space with a stand off who could run the show and keep the opposition guessing. During the year the squad held mini skills camps, team unit camps and then played Canada twice in the run up to the event itself. In the pool stages we beat Tonga (the favorites), Russia and Chile convincingly and in the final we inflicted a fourth final loss on a very strong Japanese team.
Congratulations to the whole squad, a huge step forward and a new challenge ahead with promotion to the 2013 Junior World Championship in France – we are working on the plan!
USA Rugby New Coaching Initiatives
At the beginning of the year I was delighted to announce that former USOC Director of Coach Development, Dave McCann had joined us our Director of Coaching. It was becoming clear to me that the world of coaching and particularly coach development was changing at a pace. As a member of the USOC National Governing Body Council I became a ware of a number of challenges that all sports face with regards to support of our coaches and protection of our athletes. Notable high profile cases in the world of swimming and others were simply disturbing, then of course the shocking revelations from Penn State in the last few months emphasized the importance of protecting both our Coaches and our Athletes.
Of course, we can close our eyes and pretend that these are other people’s problems, or we can do whatever we can to make sure that our coaches are of the highest quality and our coaches and players are provided with the tools to recognize the signs when something is going wrong and understand what they need to do about it. USA Rugby are fortunate that Dave’s experience with all sports has the knowledge and contacts to provide our coaches with world class support and training in this area. In June, at the Annual Congress Meeting, Dave presented his plans to Congress who wholeheartedly endorsed his recommendations and we will be implementing them in our new membership cycle in August.
Below I have outlined the plan, the goals and the benefits, this will make USA Rugby one of the leading National Governing Bodies in the USA in terms of coach education and reflects our desire to put the players at the center of everything we do, I would be interested to hear your feedback?
To assist in establishing Rugby as a major participation Sport in America, and as a competitive powerhouse in the world.
Do what is right, not just what is easy.
The Player/The Coach/The Game
The American Rugby Model (ARM): An integrated strategic sport development system that aligns the major components of the Long-Term Development Model with the organizational and competitive structure of rugby and sports in the US.
1. Protect our Players and Coaches
- Background check
- Sexual abuse and molestation education
- First Responder Training
- Concussion prevention and management training
- Ethics and sportsmanship education
- Harassment and bullying education
2. Grow our Coaches and Volunteers
-Best supplementary training from the US and around the world
-No repetition of courses, just progressive education and professional development
-Scope of curriculum based with National Standards for Sport Coaches
-Brand and recruiting strategy based on the top level of coach development and player protection in the USA
3. Prepare for Victory
In conclusion, it’s not good enough to just turn up and call yourself ‘Coach’, we have to have standards and develop respected rugby coaches who care about their players and provide parents of young players with the re-assurance that their children will be coached in a safe environment by coaches who know what they are doing! We still have a long way to go, but we are heading in the right direction.
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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