Skip to content

Business, Engagement Edition Player Pathways


By: Adrian Thompson •  4 years ago •  

I started playing rugby at 13 through school ended up playing club rugby at GPS “Jeeps” in Brisbane, but retired due to injury at age 20. I was greatly influenced by our coach, Chris Carberry, an ex-Wallaby who was ahead of his time for those days in terms of modern conditioning and pre-session planning. My coaching career started with some lower grade work with the Jeeps in 1988, as well as at Easts. In 1997 I started working full-time at Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in Development and was at Easts as first grade coach from 1999 for 2 years.

From 2001-2002, I went to the Queensland Academy of Sport – a Joint program with QRU as their first rugby coach. I also coached in Japan for 6 seasons from 2005 to 2011. The rugby culture did change while I was there and again since. While still uniquely Japanese, it is becoming more modernised in the training set up, if not selections and administration. After Japan, I went to Brothers for a season in 2011, before starting with the ARU again the week after the Grand Final.

As the current National Performance Programs Manager, I currently coach the Australian U20s and work closely with each of the 5 super franchises academy and U20s programs. We also look at the Junior Gold Cup coaching staff for the U15s and U20s. From this we try to identify and ensure that coaches from this system have a pathway to progress. For example, Cameron Blade and Shane Arnold progressed through this system to become the Waratah’s forwards coach and Brisbane NRC coach respectively.

The ARU are now delivering several new programs nationally including the Viva 7s and Game On. Game On is targeted at schools, and Viva 7s is a version of touch football for all ages to get the broader community involved. This year we’re using Jason Gilmore from Queensland and Tim Rapp from the Waratahs with the hope that this will be a development opportunity for them to move into coaching in their respective Super programs. On top of that, we have the Junior Gold Cup (as mentioned) and school’s rugby to find the next level of coaches. We have also invited a number of school-boy coaches for observation and skills based sessions to link into the U20s.

The hardest thing in Australia is providing opportunities for coaches as there are currently not a lot of opportunities to work full-time here. We are aiming to change that with the National Rugby Championship (NRC), creating an opportunity for both coaches and players. Once they get to the professional level, there is a risk of losing them to Rugby League but we have created a player pathway to keep players in the sport and in Australia, developing a clear pathway to Super Rugby, Sevens and Wallabies Level for these athletes.

Jayson Brewer is our National Coach Development Manager who identifies and runs our National Performance Coach program (Level 3). I work with him in identifying coaches and provide support and resources for coaches in the system. He is working on a number of levels of professional development for coach development. Over to you, Jayson.

Coach Pathways – Jayson Brewer

As part of my role I am responsible for leading and delivering strategic initiatives to support, educate and identify rugby coaches from grassroots to elite levels in Australia. I work closely with key stakeholders including Super Rugby Clubs and State Unions with an emphasis on communication, consultation and collaboration.

From an early age my passion for coaching and working with athletes was strong. Having been a Director of Sport and Physical Education, I am well aware of the challenges that face learning and development across a variety of levels. I spent several seasons coaching with South Sydney Rugby League and really enjoyed the experience. At the time, I was at the crossroads, deciding my own coaching pathway. I am really keen to keep developing others but do also love the feeling of a team environment.

Having played for Randwick Rugby, NSW Waratahs Academy and South Sydney while growing up, I have seen the game change across both codes. Players are bigger, faster, and even the learning methods have evolved ‘for good or bad’ over a number of years. Good quality coaches though will always have the athlete at the centre of all programs, from relationship development to communication and wellbeing. Our role as coaches is very simple – some coaches just get it, while others need further support and development. This is why we continue to develop and refine our coaching strategy. In 2016, our theme is ‘Transforming Coach Development’ which is built on existing research and insights across all levels of coaching and player development.

In conjunction with our member Unions, we have developed a new Coaching Framework which was launched in 2015. Our national curriculum continues to develop alongside this framework, as well as coaching process behaviours, self-reflection tools and player welfare, which are at the heart of all our offerings. The Coach Development model includes the 6 entry points that exist across the coach development education pathway. The Key features in the creation of this model is the development of coach education that is player-centred, provides diverse learning experiences, and embraces informal learning concepts when embedded in formal learning contexts.

The ARU continues to acknowledge that coaches learn in varying contexts. Therefore, the Coach Development Model aims to provide this and emphasises the importance of expanding supportive environments in coaching courses to better facilitate and develop coaching knowledge and practice. Most NSOs in Australia are working with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in developing their framework and we are fortunate enough to be part of a pilot review in 2016. We have great mentors such as Alan Gaffney, Ben Whitaker and Adrian Thompson who have helped shape the way we develop, align and continue to challenge our philosophy for national integration. Of course, Michael Cheika and the Wallabies team will also be influential in further developing our national coaching blueprint and the new resources for coaches across our pathways.

I am also working on developing our Elite Coach Profile system which integrates with the University of Queensland and AIS in working with targeted coaches of national interest. We have identified this is an area we need to further develop and provide access and opportunity for coaches within our system. We also run a female development program for targeted coaches and they have the opportunity to continue their development in our National Wallaroo camps.

Another exciting feature is the launch of our new Rugby Learning Centre (RLC) that provides full access to coaches, match officials, volunteers and administrators. Our framework and learning pathways are embedded within this system and this resource will continue to develop throughout the years to come.

Our National Schools Strategy has also identified areas we need to evolve, so we will be piloting a new Emerging Coach Program this year for targeted school’s coaches. We know the environment that teachers and club coaches provide is critical in many ways for players, especially at the foundation and grass roots levels.

I am currently Randwick Rugby First Grade assistant coach and have been at the club for over 15 years as a player then coach. My advice to any coach would be to develop networks, get out of your comfort zone and find a mentor that will ultimately challenge you for the better. During the Rugby World Cup last year, I visited 6 premiership clubs across the UK and 1 premier league academy. The year before I was fortunate enough to spend some time at a top League team in Japan, but I believe we have quality coaches and high performance systems right here in Australia. Our National Pathway programs will continue to provide opportunities for coaches and leaders across our sport.


Having over 20 years’ in sport experience across Education, Sports Science and High Performance Programs, Jayson is well equipped to lead the ARUs National Coaching Strategy and explains key strategic plans for coach development and the critical element of aligning education, training and professional development across all levels of the athlete pathway.

Share this article

Featured Articles

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Too often we hear of the accountant whose books don’t balance, the...

Becoming an International Coach

By: Bill Sweetenham •  4 months ago •   Here is my detailed outline for a developing…

Coaching in the Time of COVID-19

By: Maria Newport •  4 months ago •   What they don’t Teach you in Coaching School…

One Question

Being a business coach is a dream job. The click you have with your coachee……...

This content is for Community Coach and Career Coach members only.
Login Join Now


By: Sean Douglas •  2 years ago •   Is data analytics the future of sports coaching?…

Are Coaches Educators or Trainers

By: •  2 years ago •   Are Coaches Educators or Trainers As all coaches know this…

Negotiation Skills: Art or Science

By: Margot Smith •  4 months ago •   We learn how to negotiate from a very…

Trust, Purpose, Anxiety, Identity

By: Steve Barlow •  4 months ago •   “It was my first day on the job….

A Wake Up Call for Business

By: Alan Ste •  4 months ago •   Recently Bill Gates said that the one question…

Leading the Lost in Love

By: Renee Slansky •  4 months ago •   Welcome to the New World We are no…

Stress Free

By: Richard Maloney •  4 months ago •   How to Thrive Under Pressure in Unprecedented Times….

Coaching Through COVID and Beyond

It happened so fast. One minute it seemed that I was gearing up for a…

Creating a Sense of Safety in Your Remote Conversations

I belong to a community that gathers online once a week to help each other…


By: Michele Toner •  2 years ago •   If you are working as a coach, there’s…


By: Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. MCC •  2 years ago •   Coaching is a way of being….

Cancer Coaching

By: •  2 years ago •   1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian…

Career Snakes & Ladders

By: Margot Smith •  10 months ago •   Careers can sometimes be like Snakes & Ladders….

Coaching Behind the Mask

By: •  1 year ago •   Coaching Behind The Mask 7 Steps to Success By Steve…


By: Marie Zimenoff •  1 year ago •   How Career Coaching is Evolving to Serve 5…

Busyness Obsessions

By: Kasia Jamroz •  1 year ago •   How to win a race without the finish…


By: Michele Toner •  2 years ago •   If you are working as a coach, there’s…