Jess’ Rugby Union coaching crusade takes her halfway around the world

Having successfully completed an online leadership program run by Crusaders Rugby Club from New Zealand, Jess Bunyard, head of women and girls rugby at Huddersfield RUFC, wanted to further her learning experience. She decided to make a 24,000 mile round trip to New Zealand and join coaches from all over the world for a two week course at the Crusaders club itself.

Jess said, “Having gained so much from the online course I wanted to go out and get the practical experience. The in-person course was everything I thought it would be and more. 21 coaches from around the world took part and we learned so much from all the Crusaders coaches, including head coach Rob Penney. We also had sessions with their attack coaches, scrum coach and mental skills coach.”

Penney was an All Black trialist and had a 12 year playing career in New Zealand’s top flight before taking up coaching in 2005. He had a two year spell as head coach at Munster and took over as head coach at Crusaders this year. The Christchurch based club is the most successful club in Super Rugby having won the league title 14 times.

“We had presentations from the Crusaders Academy coaches and also from the Matatū coach Whitney Hansen,” said Jess, “And, I got the opportunity to coach the Crusaders International Academy squad.

“One of the best bits was chatting with the coaches and learning how they lead by caring. I also enjoyed engaging with the technical content around the forwards.

“I’ve gained real confidence about my coaching and I’m excited to use that to drive me on within my practice. That includes my schools work and coaching the women and girls at Huddersfield.

“Care and connection and being a good person is at the core of my experience with the Crusaders and it has reinforced and enhanced my current way of doing things.”

Written by Richard Sykes.

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