UOW and Crusaders announce international rugby player development program

Partnership with Super Rugby champions offers unique opportunity for aspiring players

UOW and Crusaders announce international rugby player development program

Super Rugby champions the Crusaders and the University of Wollongong will foster the next generation of rugby talent in the region with an innovative player development program to be offered on campus from 2021.

The UOW Crusaders Global Rugby Program will bring Crusaders coaches with experience at the highest level to UOW’s picturesque Wollongong campus, enabling participants to achieve excellence on the field and at university.

Participating UOW or UOW College students will train for 16 to 20 hours a week over 36 weeks a year, while earning a qualification at a university with a five-star global rating.

Applications open in 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. The Program is open to male and female Australian and international undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The Program will provide students with a unique opportunity to combine the world-class rugby training program with academic studies at one of the world’s best modern universities, enabling them to achieve their full potential in both areas.

The Program 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 Program will be scheduled around students’ academic schedule, including bespoke individualised sessions that will be developed with each player around their University study timetable.

The Crusaders are renowned across the rugby-playing world, not just for their outstanding success in the Super Rugby competition, which involves teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan, but also for the player development and coaching program on which that success is built.

As well as winning 10 Super Rugby titles in the competition’s 24-year history, the Crusaders have produced more than 70 All Blacks, including a number of all-time greats, such as All Black captains Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock, and world rugby record points scorer, Dan Carter.

The Crusaders club has also produced many world-renowned rugby coaches, including former All Blacks coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, and former Scotland coach, Vern Cotter.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: “This is a unique opportunity to grow the Crusaders organisation globally, with an extension of our existing international programs. Our club, through the Crusaders International Academy, has links in Europe, America and Asia already, so this partnership with University of Wollongong is a natural progression for us and an exciting opportunity for our organisation.”

Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson added: “The Crusaders is about more than just a world-class high performance program. Over the last 24 years of Super Rugby, our culture, connectedness and sense of community has been a point of difference, and led to our success both on and off the rugby field. We’re excited to take the Crusaders club to the world, and look forward to this innovative partnership with University of Wollongong.”

The University of Wollongong has more than 34,000 students across nine Australian campuses, three international campuses in Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and partner institutions globally.

As well as delivering world-class education, the University also has a long history of sporting success, with many students going on to compete at elite level. In 2020, UOW commences a Global Football Development Program in partnership with the UK’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The University’s Wollongong campus is also a training base for several professional teams, including the St George Illawarra Dragons in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) competition.

Professor Alex Frino, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy) at the University of Wollongong said: “UOW is excited to be partnering with the most successful rugby club in the world. This unique Program will enable our students to develop their rugby under a truly world-class coaching system, while also receiving a world-class university education. It will strengthen the place within our university of a rapidly growing international sport and fill a gap that exists for aspiring professional rugby players to learn both on and off the field.

“The Program will bring to Wollongong players of tremendous ability and potential, both on the field and in the classroom, who will contribute their skills to local rugby teams, competitions and associations. It will strengthen the place of union in the local community and contribute well-trained players to the game globally.”

University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE said the partnership was a natural fit for the university. “We are delighted to be partnering with one of the best rugby clubs in the world, and particularly one that shares our personalised approach to helping students reach their full potential. This partnership continues the University of Wollongong’s long history of combining sport with a world-class education that prepares sportspeople for life after their playing careers.”

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