New challenges in the Ivy League

Gavin Hickie coaches rugby at Dartmouth college, part of the Ivy League

There is a very unusual challenge facing me here as head coach at Dartmouth College.

It is the first time I have been involved in a rugby environment, from a coaching perspective, where rugby is not the be all and end all.

There are some very good players here at Dartmouth and a couple of them would love to go on and make a go of it after they have finished their studies.

Dartmouth Rugby Club provides a unique collegiate rugby experience. We have one of the most successful rugby programmes in the country.

By and large most of our guys on the team will pursue successful careers outside of rugby.

Dartmouth is part of the Ivy League structure along with the likes of Yale and Harvard. They are all fiercely proud of their academic heritage and some very clever people leave these places and go on to have very successful careers in the business and corporate world.

That inevitable move into big business doesn’t stop there being a huge commitment to the cause, however, within the Dartmouth rugby programme.

Occasionally, someone will miss training because they have an important exam – but it doesn’t happen often and they would always send an email or get in touch to explain why they couldn’t make it.

There is plenty of physicality in the rugby we play. American athletes will never be short of that. But the main task here as a coach is to teach the skills and structural side of the game.

American athletes are always physical, and the Dartmouth gym helps them achieve that

More and more students are arriving having played rugby at high school and we are seeing the effect of this. While here in the US, we are still playing catch up with the developed rugby nations, in terms of skill levels, it is an area we focus on during the Winter term.

Training here is intense and, despite the snow on the ground at the minute, we are still training five days a week in our supposed off season.

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