Vancouver, BC – November 22, 2019: With the 2020 BC Rugby Conference just seven weeks away and tickets already flying out the door, we decided to catch up with one of the guest speakers at next year’s event, Russell Earnshaw.
Co-creator of The Magic Academy, decorated England Rugby Sevens player and RFU Level 4 Coach, Coach Developer and Mentor, Earnshaw has a distinguished track record and reputation within the sport of Rugby. His passion for progressive coaching ideas and practices has seen his work recognised beyond the walls of rugby union, having been invited to present sessions at Google, the FA, GB Hockey, British Triathlon, the Rugby Football League and British Swimming to name a few.
After a resoundingly positive reception at the 2019 BC Rugby Conference, we were excited to catch up with Earnshaw once again and hear what he has in store for next year.
The 2020 BC Rugby Conference will be held at St. George’s Senior School on January 11-12. For more information and to buy tickets, visit bcrugby.com/conference
What did you enjoy most about your last trip to Vancouver?
Vancouver? Best trip ever. It was the place I went last year that when I asked the question who wants to do more coaching, I got the most number of hands up ever. I enjoyed the fact that there was a huge number of female coaches, it blew my mind. One of the female coaches gave me the feedback that I needed more imagery of girls playing rugby in my coaching material, which I’m happy to say has now been sorted out.
Also the kids if I’m honest. I come over to Canada and the USA quite often and I find that the kids seem really responsive. What I deliver can come across as quite different to what those kids have experienced before and they seem really receptive to it which is fantastic.
What did you learn last time you were here?
I always learn a lot form people who coach girls rugby. I know in myself I’m not skillful enough to coach girls for a whole season, so I really enjoy the conversations I have around that. More than anything though, I learned that people want to get better, there’s a real appetite. Every time I coach I learn lots, so engaging with a new set of kids guarantees that I’ll walk away something new. There’s a difference in overall awareness of the game between kids in England and kids in North America, which challenges me to rethink how I coach certain topics. It really helps me hone my coaching craft.
What have you been up to since we saw you last?
Probably the biggest thing has been the gamification stuff. How do we take the principles from video game design and utilise them in sport so that kids become engaged in learning. The reason lots of kids play computer games, there’s a science behind it and we can learn a lot about how kids think by looking at them. Pausing is a good example of this. I’ll often ask groups of kids how often the wish they could pause a lesson in school, they all put their hands up and we’ll start to discuss why don’t they or why should they. Other areas like power-ups, banking, risk/reward all seem to be getting real traction with the kids I’ve been coaching and I’m working hard now to put this all in to a framework that I can share with other coaches.
What makes a good conference? What are we going to try and achieve?
A safe environment where we can all practice stuff, get things wrong, get things right. A good conference gives people the feeling like they want to get engaged with sessions and that there is a real positive environment. We started to touch on getting feedback from the kids as well, so that’s something I’m hoping to build on. My hope and intention is that people will be excited by the gamification stuff and we’ll learn loads off each other. I was working with Arsenal Ladies just last week and their coaches came up with some great ideas that I’ve stolen, so I’m excited to see what cool ideas I can steal from coaches in BC.
Why do you think gamification is so impactful?
I now look at sessions that I used to do 5 months ago and think ‘wow, I could have done that so much better’. It has really changed how I look at rugby coaching. I was talking with Amy Price (UEFA A License football coach) and we were talking about how across both sports it is really starting to take off as an idea, it just seems to really capture the imaginations of both coaches and kids.
If you had $1,000,000, how would you spend it on Rugby in Canada?
I work an awful lot with schools and what’s the best way to get great results for your kids in school? Have better teachers. What’s the best way to have really good rugby players? Have better coaches. Our generation was coached very differently to how coaching looks now, there are other ways to do things nowadays. So if we can make these new approaches accessible and help people understand new theories and skillsets, that is the best way we can make a real impact for these kids.
Tell us, in one word, what you think of when you think of:
Canada – Awesome people (that’s two words, but I’m sticking with it)
Conference – Disrupt…I want to disrupt what people think a conference should look and feel like.
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