One of the favorite parts of my job is meeting college rugby coaches, learning about their programs, and sharing these insights with rugby families. Many coaches have asked for some ideas and tips to help them “recruit” more prospective rugby players, especially if they don’t have “official” recruiting power (such as the ability to offer athletic scholarship money or admission support).
There are many ways college coaches can recruit, even if they can’t "recruit". Below begins a three-part series that addresses how college coaches can encourage prospective rugby players to consider applying to, and ultimately attending and playing for, their program.
1. Get to know your college or university
Many times coaches say to a student, “I don’t know much about the school, but I can tell you about the rugby program.” This is problem number one. Virtually all of the families I meet have specific academic needs and goals in mind, so you can better sell your rugby program if you can also sell the academic program at the same time. It sends a very powerful message when, for instance, Arizona State University says to a prospective student: On top of playing on a wonderful rugby program, you mentioned interest in studying business. Did you know ASU is ranked as a top 25 undergraduate business program?
Here are some typical questions a student and his or her parents like to have answered:
a) What is your school academically known for? (e.g., Is it world renowned for its engineering, nursing or business program?)
b) How selective is admissions to your school? (What is the acceptance rate? What is the average GPA, SAT or ACT of an enrollee?)
c) What is the completion rate? (Do students graduate in 4 years? 5 years?)
d) How big is the school? (Total student population, total undergrad population)
e) What is the total cost of attendance? (This is the approximate cost including tuition, room & board, meals, books, fees, etc.)
You can typically find these answers with a bit of research on your college's or university’s website - or better yet, take a trip to the admissions office and speak with an admissions officer. More than likely, the admissions team will be happy to share this info with you because the more you recruit for your team, the more you help increase overall interest in the school. It’s a win-win for them. As a bonus, it is wise to build a good rapport with admissions. Sooner or later, you may be able to demonstrate rugby's influence on an increasing application pool and convince someone to offer admission support or athletic scholarship dollars.
2. Update your website
This one is a no-brainer, but it is still common to find rugby team websites either non-existent or outdated. There are thousands of high school-aged rugby players hungry to reach out to rugby teams; to find out more about the team and see if the program is the right fit for them. But many college teams are shooting themselves in the foot by not keeping their information portal current. Make sure there is a designated Webmaster who can keep your info up-to-date. The savvier teams include many social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., to post game updates, photos and other information about the team. Social media is a high school student's world, and the more info they can access, the more they can envision themselves as part of that program.
3. Respond to inquiries
Even worse than outdated information on a team website is being unresponsive. I recently reached out to a couple teams to find out more about their program and after a couple of e-mails and phone calls with no response, I gave up. How many players have also tried to reach these teams, received no response, and therefore decided against applying to that school because they assumed the program was not very organized? Don’t let this happen to you.
This is an extensive laundry list of things for one coach to accomplish, and many of these items should be action items for your current active players. Ask your team president to designate a current player to handle recruitment for your team, or better yet, contact your alumni base and ask an invested alumni (like what University of Washington has done) to handle all recruiting inquiries.
Stay tuned for Part II soon!
The Rugger’s Edge, founded by Karen Fong Donoghue, provides college athletic advising for rugby players. Karen guides rugby families through the entire college search and recruiting process to help each student athlete achieve their goals. Call today for a consultation and see if the program is right for you!
The Rugger’s Edge: www.ruggersedge.com
, 858-880-7325 (cell)
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