Meet the Interns: Victoria Grant, Rugby Sevens, New Zealand

Name: Victoria Grant 

“Being immersed in our national team at a pinnacle event will be a great experience and will help me in future endeavours.”

Sport: Rugby Sevens

Mentor Coach: Stu Ross

Country: New Zealand

Games Responsibilities: Victoria will participate in all team management and coaches’ meetings, training sessions, and games and will observe the video analysis process during games. Her specific role will be to analyse the opposition and provide feedback to the coaches.

Current Occupation: New Zealand U17 Girls Head Coach

Athletic Background: Victoria played for both the Black Ferns Sevens and 15s. First involved at the age of 18, she was attracted by the opportunity to use her speed in a team sport. An experienced campaigner and great advocate for the women’s game, she was captain for the Black Fern’s tour to England in 2011 and was a member of the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup winning squad. She also played provincially for Auckland.

Coaching: Victoria chose a coaching career in order to give back to the sport that was such a big part of her life and also to help develop young women in the sport. She notes that she has always been well-supported by her provincial union and national sporting body. Her goal is to coach a national team. The challenges of being a woman coach in a male-dominated sport include dealing with men who have out-dated ideals of women in sport, which she describes as “frustrating”.

Education:

World Rugby Level 2 Coaching Certificate

World Rugby Level 3 Coaching Certificate (close to completion)

Sport New Zealand Performance Coach Acceleration Program

NZ Rugby High Performance Women in Coaching Program

Bachelor’s degree in Health Science majoring in physiotherapy

Post-graduate diploma in sports medicine

Importance of the WCIP: “I am grateful to be part of this program. Being immersed in our national team at a pinnacle event will be a great experience and will help me in future endeavours. My expectation is to learn more about the ‘art’ of coaching, especially under the pressure of an event such as the Commonwealth Games. Mentoring has great value; having someone to discuss with, learn from, support and challenge you is invaluable.”
 

After Gold Coast: Victoria intends to coach New Zealand’s U18s Girls Sevens. She is committed to working with and promoting other women coaches. “There are only a few of us in our sport so we need to support each other as much as possible.” She will have other coaching opportunities with national development teams and will continue the coach mentor program, the Performance Coach Acceleration Program, and the National Provincial Union Sevens Coaching Course.

Commonwealth Connections: “The Modern Commonwealth is more than a collection of countries with a loose historical bind. It is a reflection of how countries, once connected by the British Empire, have matured and developed their own history and identity. The Commonwealth Sport Movement is unique in today’s world, with a shared bond connecting countries that are vastly different in geography, culture, and history. The Commonwealth Games brings together these countries, providing a platform not only for competition, but a stage for each one’s culture and vibrancy.

“This is a pinnacle event within the New Zealand Rugby Sevens calendar and to be involved with a flagship team for our national sport is itself an achievement. But to be part of a Commonwealth Games carries its own importance within New Zealand society.”

 

Meet the Mentors

Name: Stu Ross

“I coach to create and uncover Eureka moments.”

Sport: Rugby Sevens

Country: New Zealand

Current Occupation: Black Ferns Sevens Assistant Coach and Video Analysis

Athletic History: Stu played Rugby Sevens at a provincial level, competing at eight national tournaments.

Coaching History: Stu was a coach at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He coached the 2015 Rugby Sevens World Cup Champions and was a coach of two World Rugby Womens Sevens Series Champions. As a player, he had a real interest in the technical and tactical sides of the game. Nearing retirement, he spent time mentoring players, which ignited a real passion for coaching. “I coach to create and uncover Eureka moments.” He began his coaching career as Assistant Coach Men’s Sevens with the Manawatu provincial team. The guidance, help, and patience of an passionate coach developer/manager opened opportunities that helped shape Stu as a coach. In 2011, he started coaching women’s sevens and won two national titles in two years. In 2015, he became the full-time Performance Analyst with the national women’s sevens and after Rio became the team’s set-piece coach.

“To coach at the 2018 Commonwealth Games you want to be at your very best, to be tested and challenged and know you have given your best for your athletes, team, and country. An awesome opportunity!”

Quote re WCIP: “The role of the mentor is to support, challenge, and grow …. The WCIP is an excellent opportunity to help develop and support a coach who has massive potential and passion to grow female rugby players in New Zealand. I expect Victoria to gain valuable experiences in a high-performance environment that she can implement into her programme as she builds towards the Youth Olympics. In New Zealand, a lot more women are coaching rugby at a provincial level and it is only a matter of time before a woman will coach at the national level … [However], rugby is a male-dominated sport at all levels, including administration and grassroots. Because there are a limited number of teams of the higher levels, there are limited opportunities to coach.”

Commonwealth Connections: “The Modern Commonwealth is about countries with a common historical connection through the Crown, growing and establishing their own identity and culture. The Commonwealth Sport Movement allows countries to showcase their spirit using sport as our stage.”