Glendale Coaches Corner

Glendale Merlins Rugby

Glendale Rugby Steps Up Local H.S. Involvement

by | Feb 16, 2018 | Coaches Corner

As told by Director of Amateur Rugby Luke Gross

Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 2.9.18, the location – Glendale’s Try Club

Tonight Glendale rugby players and coaches hosted East High Rugby Football Club’s parents for a Rugby 101 session. We had a turnout of about 30 individuals, most of which were fairly new to the sport. Myself, Assistant Coach Tim Gilligan, Raptors Casey Rock (an East H.S. alumn) and Luke White, DI players Chris Hathaway and Scott Smith and Women’s players Chinyere Isaac-Heslop, Danya Clark and Madison Slaught all came out to help explain the game, give various demonstrations and add their personal accounts for these parents. From our Glendale Rugby perspective it seemed to be a very positive affair. The parents were asking good questions and seemed to be learning a lot about the sport. We hope these kinds of events really boost a love of the sport and help add to the local rugby fan base! We definitely hope to arrange more of these in the future and do plan on continuing our ‘Rugby 101’ sessions in the stands during each of the Raptors home matches, as well.

Glendale Rugby Steps Up Local HS Involvement

Photo by Sara Wright

Just as little background, East High School Rugby Club formed in 1988 and offers competitive play for eighth grade and up. No player is cut and there are multiple matches for different levels of play (A and B sides as well as a series of Freshman/Sophomore matches) with other high school clubs. They also have recently been looking to form a girls’ team, which is exciting, and East High Rugby is supported by a very strong parent’s organization, with many alumni returning as coaches and trainers.

As the Director of Amateur Rugby, I spend a lot of time and energy developing relationships with local high school rugby clubs, as well as the leadership at Rugby Colorado, the State-Based Rugby Organization that fosters the growth of youth and high school rugby across the state. The Executive Director of Rugby Colorado, Angus Peacock, and I meet on a monthly basis to strategize how Glendale Rugby can help the organization in its various objectives.

Just this week alone, Glendale and Rugby Colorado partnered together to host a Level 300 Coach Accreditation Course, worked on some strategies for coaching safety in the tackle and scrums to our H.S. coaches and administrators, announced Glendale’s Jamie Burke as the new head coach for the Girls All-State Rugby Team, as well as worked out a partnership to help local rugby clubs who buy Raptors tickets get 20% of that ticket price back to support both their club and Rugby Colorado.

Part of Rugby Colorado’s mission, as well as Glendale’s undertaking, is to conduct rugby outreach and equip volunteers, entrusted with a child’s rugby development, to learn the game’s nuances and, more importantly, understand what is developmentally and cognitively appropriate for their players. During my time at USA Rugby and even now as Director of Amateur Rugby here at Glendale, I have felt an immense responsibility to give back to the game and do everything in my power to share my knowledge and resources to do just that.

Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 2.12.18 and 2.14.18, location – Wheat Ridge, Colo.

So although I currently spend every Tuesday and Thursday evenings leading our Merlin’s DI practice, this week I also spent Monday and Wednesday night with members of the Warrior Wheat Ridge Youth Rugby Football Club. This club is more than 10 years old, but as with most clubs at this level, the coaching staff is made up of parent volunteers with a wide-range of rugby and coaching experience. Monday night, I spent time meeting with members of their coaching staff at a local Perkins to discuss structures of attack and defense for their team. The Wheat Ridge Warriors are a mix of players from Bear Creek, Lakewood, Green Mountain, Golden and Wheat Ridge, Colorado schools and the coaches seemed grateful for my expertise and were eager to learn. I spent an hour or so over coffee and a white board discussing the ins-and-outs of rugby offensive and defensive strategies and I’m sure I gave more than one person a headache. But, I think it’s imperative to have everyone on same page (myself included) before going into a training session where I am stepping in as the guest coach. On Wednesday night, after a bit of a warm-up and quick introductions, I stepped right in to run practice with their regular coaches looking on. I got down to business going over some of the basic fundamentals, bringing the ball into contact, explaining various attack patterns, as well as the defensive structures. It’s a lot for the players to take in, but they did a great job with the limited time I had available. I hope that I was helpful to the coaches and the players and allowed them to see the game from a different angle. It will also be interesting to follow the team and see how they compete and improve throughout the season in the DII North H.S. Boys League. Now, it’s back to preparing for the weekend and our Merlins match against the Austin Huns.