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USA Rugby National Development Summit Recap Back
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Date: Friday - 02.03.17
Luke Turner | Tulsa RFC | President

Recently, I, along with Chris Smith of Rugby Oklahoma and Chris Woodard of the Jared Shoemaker Academy of Rugby, attended the annual USA Rugby National Development Summit (NDS) in Baltimore, MD. The USAR NDS aims to share the best practices in rugby development for all coaches, referees, administrators and players with sessions and clinics from the country’s top experts. The 2017 Summit saw its biggest attendance with over 550 people participating in the many presentations and seminars over the three day event dedicated to growing the game of rugby.

High Performance Friday

I was lucky enough to be allowed into a special high performace portion of the weekend with Women's Eagles Sevens' Ryan Carlyle and Richie Walker and High Performance General Manager, Alex Magleby.  The clinic Friday offered early attendees a glimpse into some of the skill sessions performed in a full-time, professional training environment. The Olympian and Team USA Olympic head coach, respectively, gave hands-on demonstrations from the most basic pass-and-catch drills to the breakdown work so important to the team on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series circuit. In Magleby's session, the High Performance (HP) Manager discussed the pathway to the Eagles and how HP practices can be used at all levels of rugby.


Featured technical and workshop sessions with rugby leaders covering many different topics. I was able to attend the following courses:

Attacking Patterns & Strategies - Mike Friday- Head Coach USA Men’s 7s
Recruit & Retain - Erik Geib - USA Rugby Club Department Manager
Diversity Panel - Moderated by Jason Thompson - USOC - Director of Diversity & Inclusion
USA Rugby Player Panel - Wheelchair Rugby's Chuck Aoki & USA Women's 7s Alev Kelter
Rethinking Women in Rugby
- Erin Kennedy - Rugby Mass Participation Program Consultant- Rugby Canada -
Fundraising for Your Clubs - Nikki Wierderanders - USA Rugby Trust -

Special Guest - Michael Cheika -
Head Coach of the Wallabies, Australia Men’s National team. The inspiringly honest former pro player and successful coach discussed his rugby and business achievements in a lively Q and A format. This is the second time I’ve had the chance to attend a session with Cheika and I really enjoy hearing him speak about team culture/identity and how to create an environment of success.

Keynote Speaker - John "Bradshaw" Layfield

This year’s keynote speaker was John “Bradshaw” Layfield, the former professional football player, professional wrestler and WWE champion and current member of the broadcast team on Smackdown. John is the founder of Beyond Rugby Bermuda (BRB), a partnership between the Family Center and Bermuda Rugby Football Union. BRB works with kids at two schools in Bermuda using the core values of rugby to help develop young people. John brought the house down with his humor and delivered a powerful message about how rugby can change lives.


Featured a focus on USA Rugby's Rookie Rugby development. These courses are especially important to our community at this time as we strive to build our own youth rugby program.

Rookie Rugby Leagues Case Study
Selling Youth Rugby Programming to Rugby and Non-Rugby Communities - Nathan Dalena - USA Rugby Regional Development Officer
Developing & Creating Rookie Rugby Leagues in Your Area - Nic Clapinson - USA Rugby Regional Development Officer
Eagle Technical Guide and Videos


Overall, USA Rugby put on an excellent event that was well worth the trip to Baltimore. Myself and other local representatives were able to take in some relevant content while networking with contemporaries from around the country with similar concerns, challenges, successes and issues. Most importantly, the weekend of engaging with other rugby folks recharged the batteries and renewed my enthusiasm for what we are doing here in Tulsa and NE Oklahoma.

Next Level Rugby's NDS Video Report

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