New offering combines world-class rugby development program with academic studies
Former All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne and University of Wollongong (UOW) Global Brand Ambassador and former Australian cricket captain Adam Gilchrist AM joined forces on UOW’s Wollongong campus on Thursday (27 February) to launch an innovative, university-based rugby player development program.
Super Rugby champions the Crusaders and UOW have teamed up to deliver the program, which combines world-class rugby training with a world-class university education, enabling students to achieve their full potential in both areas.
The UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program will be offered at the University’s Wollongong campus from 2021.
Gilchrist and Thorne were joined at the launch by Crusaders International Academy Manager Grant Keenan, Canterbury Rugby and Crusaders Academy Personal Development Manager (and former Silver Fern) Maree Bowden, and UOW Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Frino.
At the launch, Thorne, Keenan and Bowden ran a 90-minute training session with players from a number of Illawarra schools and rugby clubs, focussing on key technical and tactical skills that are fundamental to any coaching program at the Crusaders.
The session gave the young rugby players a taste of the skills and techniques students will learn through the UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program. The Program will be taught by Crusaders coaches with experience at the highest level and will cover all aspects of rugby development, including:
- Technical aspects of rugby specific to playing position
- Tactical knowledge of the game and game simulation
- Position specific fitness and strength & conditioning
- Wellness and nutrition
The UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program will be scheduled around students’ academic schedule, including tailored sessions developed with each player around their University study timetable. Students will maintain a full academic course-load while also receiving 16 to 20 hours of rugby training and mentoring a week.
Crusaders International Academy Manager Grant Keenan said: “We’re really excited to come to Wollongong and launch a unique player development program for aspiring young male and female athletes.
“The Crusaders ethos prioritises both on field and off field player development, so the University of Wollongong’s vision to align rugby development with ongoing education is a great fit, and a really positive step for the growth of the game globally.”
Former Crusaders captain Reuben Thorne, who is co-head coach of the Canterbury men’s team in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup competition, added: “The Crusaders environment is unique and I’ve always been proud to be associated with a club that cares about its people, and celebrates its culture as much as any on-field success.
“The club take a holistic view of player development and it’s exciting to be a part of the launch of a global rugby program that reflects this.”
Professor Frino said the University was excited to be partnering with the world’s most successful rugby club.
“Teaming up with the Crusaders means we can offer students access to a truly world-class coaching system, and to coaches who know what it takes to succeed in professional rugby. Our students will be able to fully develop their rugby skills and talents at the same time as they are earning a qualification at a university with a five-star global rating,” Professor Frino said.
“This Program will create a new pathway for rugby talent, not only from Australia but from throughout Asia, the Pacific Islands, North America and elsewhere.”
Adam Gilchrist said the Program was a great opportunity for young rugby players.
“The great thing about this Program is that it means young players don’t have to choose between their sporting dreams and university. They can pursue their sporting ambitions to the fullest while also gaining a qualification that will give them career options when their sporting career ends,” he said.
The Program is open to male and female Australian and international undergraduate and postgraduate students at UOW or UOW College.
Applications open on 30 March 2020 for students studying at (or applying to study at) UOW or UOW College from 2021, for all courses available at the Wollongong campus.