Intro: Yale University is delighted to announce that Director of Rugby Greg McWilliams has been named as the USA Men’s National Team Attack & Backs Coach for the America Rugby Championship (a tournament played between USA, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay) over the next six weeks. We caught up with Greg before his departure.
Lucas: Can you tell us a little bit about your USA Men’s Rugby coaching experience so far?
Greg: After the last Ivy League game of the 2017 fall season, I assisted on the European tour with the USA Men’s National team so it's great to get another bite at it. I had been coaching with the USA Men’s Collegiate All-American side (U 23) since 2015 so I got to know a number of the players and staff which made the integration easier. We played Germany & Georgia on that tour and competed well, it's an exciting time with the World Cup on the horizon. The players are a very tight group who are prepared to work hard to get better - that's essential. The squad will meet up in San Diego on January 24th to begin the prep for the ARC. It's going to be a testing tour but we will learn a great amount as a group. We can test a lot of players over the course of the six games as we reduce the player pool leading into the summer tests.
Lucas: How will you manage the role alongside being a Yale coach?
Greg: I'm very lucky that USA Rugby runs parallel with the Yale Rugby program. For example, this upcoming tour with USA Rugby will not clash with the Yale Rugby schedule. For the next six weeks during our winter off season training block, the program is prioritizing our strength and conditioning to establish good habits off the field. We have a great coaching staff with Craig Wilson, with Brad Dufek, Corey Jones and Teofe Ziemnicki. It's also a great chance for them to lead. At the end of the day, the players will be taking the lead role, we are there to facilitate and support, this staff has a critical part to play in that.
Lucas: What are your number one goals for Yale Rugby, USA Rugby, and your personal coaching career?
Greg: At the moment It’s about establishing best practice that promotes consistency at Yale for years to come. We have lots of moving parts working together, it's a lot of fun. The FYR alumni board helps to drive that. The current crop of players are driving those standards day to day and are beginning to understand the dynamics needed to be more competitive, particularly away from the field. It takes time to build that. Lastly, it is about getting the balance right between academics, rugby, family, and their social life, we continuously strive for that.
For USA Rugby, my goal is to try and help as much as I can in the next six weeks in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in Japan (2019). That is my main and only focus for the team at the moment. The support from Yale has been incredible, I'm grateful for that. I am also grateful for my amazingly patient wife Sarah. She will travel to the west coast with me which is a bonus.
As a coach, I am always trying to improve and learn something new every day. I will pick up many learnings from the players and staff that I am excited to bring back to the Yale program in time for our jam-packed spring season. The competition is only getting stronger on the east coast so we have work to do..
Lucas: It was great to hear from you before you head off on your tour. Best of luck coach.