Representatives from more than 30 unions and regions gathered in Dublin last week for the World Rugby Training and Education Conference 2018.

With rugby experiencing rapid global expansion and the number of participants at record levels, the conference is an important forum to enable alignment across the game in the implementation of programmes that support community rugby development globally. 

So far in 2018, World Rugby licenced trainers and educators have delivered more than 1,700 courses that underpin the delivery of rugby across the world. This has resulted in over 17,000 accreditations across the five strands of coaching, match officiating, player welfare, strength and conditioning and match-day medical staff. In addition, more than 104,000 online learning modules have been completed.

With player welfare at heart, World Rugby has also recruited two new part-time Medical Education Managers with a remit to accelerate the growth of medical education, management and injury-prevention across all unions at community level. 

With the number of course participants expanding and methods of training ever-innovating, the forum considered the latest in the training and education environment with World Rugby area experts delivering updates on:

  • Player welfare, and in particular injury-prevention and the evidence-based approach to reducing risk in the sport at all levels, delivered by World Rugby Head of Technical Services Mark Harrington and Dr Ross Tucker
  • The latest on the suite of global training and education programmes by World Rugby Training Manager Jock Peggie, including the ground-breaking Activate injury-prevention warm-up programme and developments in the strength and conditioning pathway
  • An overview by Development and International Relations Project Manager Jaime McKeown of how unions have successfully applied for Olympic Solidarity and the projects that are being run to grow participation and strengthen coaching and education pathways
  • Referee Education Consultant Bernd Gabbei on the match officiating education pathway, an opportunity for all unions to nurture and promote the next generation of their community referees
  • World Rugby Citing Commissioner Manager Steve Hinds and Senior Legal Counsel Ben Rutherford on the development of new citing and judicial manager training, achieving consistency and capacity across the game

With World Rugby committed to sharing best-practice and practical experience across a diverse global rugby footprint, there were also fascinating case studies from unions, regions and independent experts, including:

  • Rugby Canada’s Paul Hunter on building and maintaining an effective workforce
  • World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Carol Isherwood on the High Performance Women’s Coaching Project, an important programme to promote and strengthen opportunities for women in rugby under World Rugby’s Women’s Plan 2017-25
  • The Magic Academy and Coach Logic on how to make learning more fun and engaging and creating online communities of practice

The forum also offers an important networking opportunity for unions who would not usually come in contact with each other, strengthening relationships and sharing experiences.

Harrington said: “World Rugby is committed to ensuring that the game has the capacity to support and nurture phenomenal global growth.

“This forum is all about engagement, dialogue and dedication and it was great to see all of the delegates really getting into the content, sharing best practice and discussing areas of mutual interests.

“The delegates were particularly excited to hear of our plans to increase the delivery workforce of First Aid Educators, Medical Educators and Medical Trainers on a global scale, which underpins community rugby delivery.

“The feedback that we have received has been extremely positive and we will now focus on strengthening our global communications outreach to ensure that this group of committed people and their unions are always kept up-to-date with the latest from World Rugby and the world of rugby.”