Back to school. Some 265 participants from World Rugby’s virtual High Performance Academy have been learning from some of the best rugby coaches in the world to prepare themselves for when international rugby restarts.
Launched in May when most of the world was in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual Academy aims to further on-field performance in emerging nations by building capability, sharing knowledge and connecting personnel via a series of dedicated workstreams.
A first for the sport, the programme has gathered some of the world’s top coaches, conditioning and high performance experts, including England’s Eddie Jones, Australia’s Scott Wisemantel and World Rugby’s Craig Joubert to share their rugby knowledge across seven key streams of coaching, athletic performance, match officials, performance analytics, management and leadership, team management and tournament operations.
In total, 265 participants from 33 unions from the Pacific Islands to the Americas have taken part in the Academy so far. Feedback from the knowledge-sharing exercise has been overwhelmingly positive, both from participants and presenters.
Video assets and transcripts of interviews with England coach Eddie Jones, Australia attack coach Scott Wisemantel, Japan women’s coach Lesley McKenzie, Fiji General Manager High Performance Simon Raiwalui, World Rugby Referee Talent Development Coach Craig Joubert, USA men’s sevens coach Mike Friday and World Rugby General Manager High Performance Peter Horne are available for editorial use
USA men’s sevens head coach and virtual Academy participant Mike Friday said: “What I’ve really enjoyed about this Academy and the coaching module is we get to share ideas from fellow colleagues around the world and we get to understand and discuss with some experts from the game of rugby on all aspects, not just the what, but also the how and the why.
“It is hugely rewarding, and it gives you an opportunity and the ability to learn lots of new things and consider how to implement them within your team.”
Australia attack coach and virtual Academy leader Scott Wisemantel echoed the comments: “Whilst some countries are competing against each other, there is the willingness and the trust to share knowledge and ideas. You are constantly learning throughout the course.”
England head coach and virtual Academy presenter Eddie Jones added: “I really enjoy the cultural nuances of how each country goes about their rugby and the problems they have when they try to become more international.
“I love the game and I want to see rugby being the number one sport in the world.”