We’re excited to continue our new series, “Pioneers of the Pitch,” where we celebrate the groundbreaking athletes, administrators, coaches, referees and fans who’ve left their mark on rugby in the USA. Each installment takes you on a journey through the inspiring stories of rising stars and seasoned legends, both on and off the field. Join us as we shine a light on these exceptional individuals and uncover their tales of dedication, passion, and triumph.
Today, I’d like to take a moment to commend a long-time friend and a champion of the sport, Austin Hall, for his unwavering dedication and service to Norwich University Women’s Rugby. As Austin steps down from his head coaching position after an astounding 19-year tenure, his legacy stands tall, much like the players he has coached.
Austin, over the past two decades, you have been more than just a coach. Under your leadership, the team transitioned to varsity status, rose to national prominence, and made a mark on the NCAA, forever changing the narrative of women’s rugby at Norwich.
It was under your expert guidance that Norwich won six National Championships, a testament to your strategic prowess and deep understanding of the game. Your 2011-12 women’s rugby team and the 2012-13 7s national championship-winning squad were rightfully inducted into the Norwich University Athletic Hall of Fame, marking their place in history.
Your coaching style, a blend of artistry and strategic play, allowed individual player strengths to flourish in a team-centered environment. You fostered creativity, hard work, and, most importantly, fun. You’ve always believed that these elements are paramount to a team’s success, and the records stand as evidence1.
Your contribution to the game extends beyond Norwich. You’ve served the United States Combined Services Team, coached the Mad River Men’s Rugby Club, and were a part of the Under-20 Women’s National Team coaching staff. As a founding member of the American College Rugby Association, you’ve played an integral role in promoting and developing varsity women’s rugby1.
But beyond all these achievements and accolades, it’s your love for the game that truly stands out. Born into a rugby family, your passion for the sport is palpable, always on the lookout for a pick-up rugby match, keeping your rugby boots and mouth guard in your car at all times1.
Your devotion isn’t just limited to rugby. You’ve shown that family and personal development have a place of importance in your life. The joy and calmness you derive from playing games and sports with your twin sons, Tucker and Simon, reading, solving puzzles, and enjoying music illustrate your dedication to a balanced life.
As you transition into an assistant coaching role, your impact on Norwich rugby will continue to resonate. Your tireless dedication, passion for the sport, and genuine care for your players have left an indelible mark on the program and everyone who has had the privilege to work with you.
Austin, thank you for your 19 years of selfless leadership. You’ve inspired many, not just to be better players, but better individuals, and for that, we are forever grateful.
Here’s to the next chapter of your journey!