Lots of things have been happening with the development of women’s rugby at USA Rugby in the past few months. First it was the announcement of the new Women’s Eagles Pathway (including bringing back the NASCs), then Pete Steingberg weighed (defended) in on the NASCs and finally the Elite Coach Pathway & Elite Coach Development Program was released.
Lets first take a closer look at the new Women’s Eagles Pathway. FINALLY they’ve aligned the Women’s Eagles, Women’s Collegiate All-Americans and the Women’s Junior All-Americans. We’ve wondered for years why these programs were run apart from each other and the rumors mostly pointed towards differing opinions among the staffing units. One also wonders if this was a part of the drastic drop off of players after their time on the Collegiate and Junior All-Americans? Routinely this was an almost 95% dropoff as players simply stopped playing rugby, much less playing high level rugby. USA Rugby is also taking a deeper look into this with a grant from World Rugby.
Along with aligning the pathways and bringing more high level rugby for all, the National All-Star Competition (NASC) has been brought back. The format of this tournament looks quite different than the old ITTs but the goal is also different as well. The big difference in the tournament is that it happens three times a year (June/August/January) and player selection is through the new USA Women’s National Team Pathway, not through selection of Regional or Territorial All-Star teams.
“Players will be identified at the various official selection vehicles throughout the year and invited to the camp. Players selected during this process will be broken into teams and will compete on an even playing field, through a week long competition that is run as close to an international event as possible.” Steinberg commented from his opinion piece on NASCs.
Other key points:
- The new pahtways provide a much broader selection opportunities for players to be seen. The Women’s National Team program will be recruiting for all levels of play, basically 18+. The National Recruiting Festivals are open to all players and cross-over athletes.
- Players will be available to play and move more freely between teams so they can compete for multiple teams in the pathway, maximizing the opportunity to develop.
- Aligned talent identification and development opportunities with the USA Rugby Academy, High School All-Americans and National Development Academies – which are being launched this year.
- The launch of a super-club level of play with the National All-Star Competition (NASC).
To further compliment all of this USA Rugby has most recently announced the Elite Coach Pathway and Elite Coach Development Program. The goal of this program is to grow a larger pool of high performance coaches. Coaches will enter the Elite Coach Pathway through the ECDP as “Emerging Coaches.” The Emerging Coaches will participate in an intensive, three-month program that culminates with coaching and shadowing roles for each of the participating coaches at the National All-Star Competition.
Interested in this opportunity? Coaches can apply until April 1 to participate in ECDP with 10 to 15 coaches selected to participate. All interested applicants must be USA Rugby Level 200 Coaches and will need to commit to a bi-weekly, distance-learning schedule. Additionally, coaches will need to be able to participate in the National All-Star Competition from May 30 to June 7 at James Madison University. The fee for the program is $900 and covers all program costs, materials, food, and accommodation at the NASC but excludes transport to the NASC.
Overall we feel that the changes are moving in the right direction and it’s about damn time! Now we just need the effort from the players, administrators and coaches to help move this model forward. Talk to your GU or territory about creating an All-Star team and playing other All-Star teams so you’re players are ready for the next level. Create High Performance 7s and 15s teams and travel to tournaments to help players gain experience. Then send all those players to the regional camps and start pushing them through the system. Help your players attend the Olympic Development Academies…the list goes on and on!
Same thing for the coaching opportunity, lets FLOOD the application process with anyone and everyone who is a L200 Coach to show them that their is an interest in this. Even if you don’t think you’ll be chosen, show them there is an absolute need for this development. Maybe next year they will have more room and you can then improve your credentials.
What are your thoughts on all the developments? This is your chance to SOUND OFF in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social media outlet. Start the conversation….