When New England Director of Coaching Luke Stephen applied for the 2019/20 NSW Rugby Emerging Talent Coach Program, he knew he was embarking on a journey.
Not only was it a physical journey that will see him travel from Armidale to Daceyville for various coaching workshops, but he was committing to a learning journey, one designed to take his rugby coaching to the next level.
“Being based in country New South Wales, opportunities to upskill or network with high performance coaches prior to the program were fairly limited,” Stephen said.
“So being part of the program, learning from the group, and sitting alongside the next generation of high performance coaches in the game has been an incredible learning experience.
“Getting down to the city and seeing how different people do things, and then to come back up here to the country and apply those learnings have been invaluable.
“The exchange of knowledge was the biggest growth for me personally,” he said.
As the first official graduate from the 2019/20 program, Stephen was thankful for the support he received over the 12 months.
“I learnt so much, not only for the presenters but also the NSW Rugby staff,” Stephen said.
“Being able to touch base with them throughout the year, in particular Owain, was incredibly helpful in my learning.
“To get an external look of how you do things is extremely valuable, and something that is not as accessible in the country.
“So to have those resources available for the last 12 months was great to help take my coaching to the next level,” he said.
As Stephen now looks to implement his learnings in his roles of Armidale Blues Head Coach and New England Rugby Union Director of Coaching, he encouraged other coaches to take up the opportunity, with applications for the 2020/21 Emerging Talent Coach Program now open.
“The opportunity to create those coaching networks, and help further your rugby knowledge, is too good an opportunity to pass up,” Stephen said.
“For developing and aspiring coaches it’s a great opportunity to learn more about coaching, in a network of highly skilled coaches,” he said.