Scottish rugby coaches will have the chance, this summer, to further their knowledge and experience in coaching performance rugby.
Some nine club, age-grade and professional coaches have been appointed to undertake three different opportunities.
They are Shade Munro (Glasgow Warriors) and Alex Duncan (Aberdeen Grammar and Scotland under-18) who will travel to Christchurch as part of the John MacPhail Scholarship; Gordon Henderson (Scotland under-18) who will attend the IRB Talent Optimisation Programme at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and Kenny Murray (Ayr), Peter Laverie (Ayr), Phil Smith (Heriot’s), Grant McKelvey (senior regional academy manager), Gary Mercer (regional academy coach and Scotland under-16) and Chris Dewsnap (regional academy coach and Scotland under-17) who will be present at the 6 Nations Coaching Conference in Rome.
The opportunities will be undertaken between June and July this summer.
Scottish Rugby coaching development manager, Jock Peggie, said: "It is great to be able to offer these opportunities to our Premier Division coaches as well as our national age-grade coaches and staff coaches.
“Development opportunities such as these provide a chance for them to learn from other coaches and other cultures and how they work in performance environments.
“Part of the selection process involved the coaches informing us how they plan to share their learning with their peers on their return and I look forward to listening to their experiences when they do so.”
The Macphail Scholarship was established in 2005, as a partnership between The Robertson Trust and Scottish Rugby.
Created in memory of John Macphail ex-Scotland Internationalist (1949-1951), the scholarship was initially developed for talented young players however, since 2011, it has been extended to support coaches with Iain Monaghan, Ben Fisher and Chris Paterson being recent recipients.
The three-week scholarship is based in New Zealand between May and July and selected coaches will spend this time developing and working on an individual coach development plan within the Canterbury High Performance Unit. Coaches will also get the opportunity to experience all levels of rugby within New Zealand and to learn from a wide range of coaches and coach educators.
Shade Munro said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity and a brilliant trip to be going on. To be sent to shadow the Canterbury Crusaders coaching set-up is absolutely invaluable.
“Given, at Glasgow, we operate at the highest level of the game in Scotland it’s good to get a different perspective from what others do. The Crusaders are one of the best teams in the world.
“It will be good to share ideas and learn new things and make a comparison between what we do at Glasgow and what they do.
“I had two six-month stints playing provincial rugby in New Zealand when I was younger. The place is just immersed in the sport, which suits me down to the ground.”
Alex Duncan said: "This is a once in a lifetime experience and I'm delighted to have been selected. The high performance unit at the Canterbury Crusaders is the benchmark for coach development so I hope to return with a new wealth of knowledge in technical and tactical coaching, that I can share back home."
Kenneth Ferguson, director of The Robertson Trust, said: “We’re delighted to offer Scottish coaches the chance to advance their rugby knowledge for a third year.
"Along with the Trustees and the Macphail family, I look forward to following the progress of the two coaches in New Zealand and in their subsequent careers."
The IRB Talent Optimisation Programme is aimed at coaches with significant experience and qualifications who are looking to optimise their talent in a high performance environment.
Each day will begin with a lecture from a renowned rugby personality and then participants will split into specific programmes. The programmes are very practical and participants will get the opportunity to coach every day in Stellenbosch University. Whilst the programme is an information/professional development type course each participant will receive on-going feedback and a detailed report at the end of the course.
Gordon Henderson said: “This is a chance to optimise my development as a coach and further my knowledge base.
“I’ll be given detailed feedback from elite coaches at all times which will be challenging, but will help me to improve. This is the first chance to undertake something like this so I’m really excited.”
The annual 6 Nations Coaching Conference sees coaches from all of the competing nations coming together to share good practice whilst also learning from a number of performance coaches and coach educators.
The conference is a mixture of theory and practical sessions and coaches will work in small groups, alongside those from the other 6 Nations countries to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge. This year’s theme is ‘developing and coaching the attacking game’.
Kenny Murray said: “This is an excellent opportunity for my personal development. The quality of the personnel speaking is outstanding, the likes of Joe Schmidt and Conor O’Shea.
“There will be the best coaches from the 6 Nations countries there so it will be a chance to network and share ideas and experiences, so I’m really looking forward to it.”