Old Glory DC Continues to Ramp Up
Old Glory DC has had a series of big announcements for the organization leading into the 2021 season. Today, Old Glory announced The St. James, the area’s premier sports, wellness, and entertainment complex, as the team’s Official Performance Training Center.
The partnership elevates Old Glory’s program, giving players and coaches use of the top-quality indoor complex, which includes a 110,000 sq. ft field house for rugby field sessions and a high-performance training center for strength and conditioning work, among many other features such as an Olympic-size swimming pool, two NHL-sized ice rink, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Old Glory will hold its preseason camp, in-season training, and strength and conditioning sessions there between February and August. Additionally, The St. James will play host to two much-anticipated Old Glory pre-season competitions with the U.S. Naval Academy and MLR’s New England Free Jacks.
Earlier in the fall, the club also launched the Old Glory DC Academy, a high-performance player pathway for players between the age of 16 and 18. The Old Glory DC Academy has begun to identify and even develop talented young athletes from the Mid-Atlantic region. Led by Old Glory coaches and staff, young rugby players will have the opportunity to learn from the likes of Head Coach Andrew Douglas.
Hailing from New Zealand, Douglas has implemented a framework used by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and their 6 Pillars of Player development. These include:
- Technical: Catch & Pass, Tackle, Running Lines, Positional Specific
- Tactical: Understanding your role, game plan, rugby laws
- Physical: Aerobic fitness, speed, power, strength
- Nutrition: General, pre & post-training/game, individual needs, hydration, supplements
- Mind Skills: Routines, mindfulness, visualization, dealing with pressure
- Leadership and Professional Development
Much of Douglas’ early coaching career was spent developing young players. Between 2008 and 2011, Douglas served as an assistant coach and as a head coach of the prestigious New Zealand Schools program.
Composed of students towards the end of their time in school, Douglas coached a variety of players, with several going on to achieve star status in the world of rugby. For example, Sam Cane is now the captain of the All Blacks, where he plays alongside his former New Zealand Schools teammates TJ Perenara and Codie Taylor.
Not only has the New Zealander made a career from developing young rugby players, Douglas’ career for 20 years was as a teacher. He is not alone in that either. Across Major League Rugby there are several head coaches that started off in the classroom.
Rugby United New York head coach, Greg McWilliams, was a geography and business teacher at St. Michael’s College in Dublin, Ireland and incoming New England Free Jacks Head Coach, Ryan Martin, was the lead coach at Otago Boy’s High School for many years.
In the greater world of rugby, former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt taught in New Zealand too, as did England coach, and San Diego Legion consultant, Eddie Jones and World Cup winning All Blacks coach, Graham Henry.
“I think, if you are going to be a good teacher, you have got to be able to relate to people and people of all backgrounds and ethnicities,” Douglas said. “I think teaching gives you that ability to interact with a wide variety of people, but also you come back to your structures around planning and the details and what makes something successful.
“There is an old adage; that once you start teaching something, you understand it a lot more. I think that ability to break something down and then put it back together again in steps that people understand, is something that you learn at the front of a classroom.
“The best teachers are the ones that really care about their students and I think that is probably the same for rugby coaches. If they really care about their players and want to see them do well and they will do everything to give them confidence and all the tools to succeed. That ability to reach people is probably the biggest thing.”
Predominantly working for St Peter’s School in Cambridge, New Zealand, where he performed the role of Deputy Principal, Douglas was always coaching in the background. Not wanting to jump into the schedule of full-time coaching until his own children had completed their education, Douglas has a lot of praise for his former employers.
Allowing him to take time off work periodically to coach Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup competition in New Zealand, as well as coaching the region’s U19’s team and performing a consultancy role with Super Rugby side, the Chiefs, it was in 2017 that Douglas took a leap into the unknown to work outside of his home country.
Moving to Italy for a season to coach Biella Rugby Club, Douglas had tremendous success in the northern hemisphere. Gaining promotion from Serie B to Serie A, mere days after that milestone, Douglas announced that he would be on his way to Japan to perform the role of backs and attack coach in the Top League.
It was after that season in Japan that Douglas took on the head coaching role in DC. It was a third move in three years, but one that the New Zealander could not turn down, whilst also knowing that his background in education has lent itself well to his new full-time profession.
“MLR is an emerging competition and it is an exciting time,” Douglas said. “For me it was just the experience of coming to the States and being able to absorb yourself in the culture, but also doing something that you love every day. I think teaching and coaching go hand in hand.
“When you are teaching and when you are training, you can play rugby at the same time you are training back in the day, it just gave you that flexibility to be able to do the things you love. You enjoy people if you are teaching, or you should do, and that translates to coaching.
“There aren’t many professional coaching jobs in the world, although there are a few leagues, but it is actually very hard to find a professional job in rugby because they are actually quite rare. I count myself pretty lucky to be a professional coach here in the States and with great owners in a competition that is really looking to grow.”
Andrew Douglas and Old Glory DC will be back in action when MLR restarts next Spring but will be at a new venue. Moving to Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia, Old Glory DC will be looking to recapture some of the form that took the side to third in the overall league standings, behind San Diego and Toronto.
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