Three of Scottish Rugby’s most recent modern apprentices are already forging a career in sport with full-time jobs in rugby, helping to inspire more youngsters to share their passion for the game.
Ayrshiremen Craig Davidson and Michael Kirk and Highlander John Mann have used the lessons they learned on Scottish Rugby’s Modern Apprentice two-year course to gain full-time jobs in the highly competitive employment market.
For Craig and Michael they are on familiar territory working close to home as rugby club development officers.
For teenager John next week it will be a case of Moray Firth to Malta as he begins his first full-time job on the Mediterranean island.
Paul Kesterton, Scottish Rugby’s Education Manager, explained: “Undoubtedly the MA programme gives an immeasurable opportunity for young people to experience rugby coaching and the management of programmes out in the rugby community.
During the course, modern apprentices attached to rugby clubs, schools and councils throughout Scotland, learn how to coach and learn how to manage, including time management and the skills they acquire help to prepare them for the world of work.
“Our many partners support us in providing a wide-ranging programme that allows young people with potential to develop their practical and personal skills and take them on to another level whether it be as a Development Officer or in to further and higher education and maybe then return to rugby development.
“I cannot recommend the Modern Apprentice programme highly enough as a practical, hands-on way of learning the skills to help coach, manage and grow the game of rugby all across Scotland and, perhaps, ultimately in John’s case, beyond.”
Those words were echoed by Carrick Academy former pupil Michael Kirk, who is now the rugby development officer at Irvine RFC.
Michael, a hooker, had already completed his level one coaching course while he was at school, encouraged and inspired by teacher Gordon Brown.
“Gordon explained to me how the Modern Apprentice programme worked and I was taken on as an MA through Carrick Rugby Club. I’d already done quite a lot of voluntary coaching to help out while I was at school but the two year Modern Apprentice course was really helpful as it gave me a better idea of what was required, especially in the management sense, to become a development officer,” he said.
Michael started as the Irvine RFC DO in August and working in tandem with the club and teachers his mission is to spark growing interest in the game at Irvine Royal Academy, Greenwood Academy, Kilwinning Academy and the 11 feeder primary schools.
His former school-mate, Craig Davidson, 20, a loose-head prop, followed a similar path and is equally enthusiastic about his experiences.
“It was challenging,” he recalled. “I had just left school at Carrick Academy and then when I got the chance of the Modern Apprentice post through Carrick Rugby Club I was walking back into the school and teachers who’d been teaching me, I was now working with.
Once I moved into the second year of the course both the teachers and myself were more comfortable with it as you’ve gone from pupil and former pupil to colleague.
The interest in rugby that Craig and Michael helped to ignite had to be fuelled and thanks to Gordon Brown and Carrick Rugby Club, a Development Officer post was created at the club and Craig, after interview, was offered the job.
Now he has three new modern apprentices working with him and his beat as development officer encompasses Girvan Academy as well as Carrick Academy and the 16 feeder primary schools.
For 19-year-old stand-off John Mann the Modern Apprentice course has opened up the most exciting opportunity.
John, a stand-off, was piloted through the course at Ross Sutherland RFC in Invergordon and the mileage he covered during that period – travelling from Tain to Invergordon to Alness, Dingwall and Fortrose, not to mention more than 20 feeder primary schools, will stand him in good stead when he arrives in Malta.
“The job in Malta is part of the community coaching programme there. The Maltese have three key age-groups, under-10s, under-12s and under-14s and I’ll be working in three school sectors where they’ve either enjoyed some rugby coaching or are completely fresh to the game.”
John undertook a 45 minute interview via Skype to get the job and though he jokes that he’s looking forward to getting a tan – and the Moray Firth and north-west Scotland have had a good summer! – he reflected that the challenge of working with children who have very little or no experience of rugby is one that he’s relishing.
For more information on how you and your club can become part of the Modern Apprentice programme please contact [email protected].