Global Rugby goes poaching for coaching

Published 22 May 2001

Southern Cross University sport management lecturer, Rudi Meir, is again in demand by the world of professional Rugby Union, accepting invitations to share his fitness training expertise with a top Japanese club in July and to help coach the England U21 team for next month's RICOH Southern Hemisphere Under 21 Championship in Sydney.

In addition to his experience training various top-level Union and NRL teams in Australia, Meir has also worked with English Super League teams Wigan, Leeds, Salford and Huddersfield, the South African Super 12 team the Stormers and Zurich Premiership club Bristol Rugby. His academic research and publication work have focused almost exclusively on rugby football.

The U21 championship, to be held over a two week period in June, includes teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, South Africa, Ireland, France, Argentina.

"This is an important tournament for England and they see it as a logical part of the process in developing players for senior international representation," Rudi Meir explained. "I was really excited when head coach Nigel Melville asked if I'd help him prepare the squad."

Melville, who is also Head Coach at Wasps, a Zurich Premiership team competing in the English professional rugby union competition, had approached Meir to do a session with his team when the SCU staff member was in the UK last December: "It seems that it was enough for him to get me on board for this tournament with England."

The Japan appointment follows an approach by Andrew McCormick, Head Coach of TOSHIBA rugby club in Tokyo, who wanted Meir to work with his squad in July after the commitments with England were over.

"The Japanese corporate Rugby competition is the biggest in the country and attracts crowds of up to 50,000 to its games," Meir said, adding that he was approached at the recommendation of Broncos and Queensland coach, Wayne Bennett.

His role will be similar to that with the England squad: "Andrew wants me to work with his team on their ball skill and defence. It's going to be a very interesting experience. I can't speak Japanese and I gather that very few of his squad can speak or understand English!"

Various staff at SCU's School of Exercise Science and Sport Management have extensive experience working with professional sporting teams and organisations in Australia and overseas, with former staff members becoming head fitness coaches to the US men's and women's ski teams. The School's expertise was further acknowledged recently when the academic program became the first Australian tertiary course in strength and conditioning to receive recognition from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) of America.

"This is the world's number one professional body in sports training and conditioning and has recently developed an Educational Recognition Program to identify and acknowledge university programs that successfully meet their established program criteria in strength and conditioning," explained the Head of School, Mr. Terry Woods.