The third annual Youth Rugby Coaches Forum at Nudge College last weekend sent a clear message across the country; Rugby in Queensland and Australia retains a heavy, vibrant pulse and the thirst for knowledge among coaches is as strong as ever.
This year's forum, the first to be held in 2022, will feature Australian coaching legend Larry Fisher, Junior Wallabies head coach Nathan Gray, Queensland Reds Super Rugby Pacific head coach Les Kiss and his entire senior coaching team (Brad Davies, Jonathan Fisher, Jonathan Fisher, Hilton and Dale Roberson). .
Former Reds back Morgan Turinui, Wallaby no. 782, the sold-out forum welcomed almost 300 coaches from schools and clubs across the country, as well as international guests from New Zealand, USA, England and Sweden.
Sean Graham, founder of the Youth Rugby Coaches Forum and director of rugby at Nudge College, first conceptualized the event in response to some of the participation challenges he observed at schoolboy level.
„I have seen a decline in the number of people playing in school competitions,” he explained to the QRU media unit.
Explaining why he identified coach development as a key way to address that, Graham said, “I'm a big believer in a quality player experience that ensures they play the next year, and the coach has a big responsibility in that.
„The aim and wider responsibility of the game was to seek to serve the wider rugby community, not just within the gates of Nudge College. We are fortunate to have the ability to host an event of this scale. The facilities and excellent staff.”
The rest is history. Backed by the forum's key partner, QRU Apparel Partner Canterbury, tickets sold out again in 2024.
Graham acknowledged the Queensland Reds and QRU's involvement from the start, with the entire Super Rugby Pacific coaching staff taking to the turf last Saturday to demonstrate their approach to the game in front of eager participants.
“The QRU has been a huge supporter of the forum since its inception; For example, we always have Reds academy players to conduct on-field training sessions for our coaches,” explains Graham.
„(Reds utility back) James O'Connor spoke at all three forums, and there was significant buzz about the involvement of the new Reds coaching staff at this year's forum.
„Having James and Jane Hilton on the panel on Friday night was another highlight as they gave great insight into the direction of the Super Rugby program going into 2024 and there is real excitement in the Queensland rugby community about the direction of the Reds.”
Reds head coach Les Kiss was impressed by the size, scale and talent of the event.
“Full credit to Sean and his team at Nudge College and all the presenters and participants who gave up their weekend to enhance the training experience,” said Kiss. “This was my first engagement with the Forum and I cannot speak highly of what I saw and was fortunate enough to participate in.
“We at the Reds are certainly proud to support the ongoing growth of the game in Queensland – and for the coaches who have tried to travel interstate or overseas – and it's a privilege to play a small part in such a great event.
Reflecting on the forum's success, Graham challenged fellow practitioners to take the next step, saying, „The challenge for us as practitioners now is to actively implement new ideas into our own practice, challenge the status quo and embrace innovation.”
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”