Guest post by Sean Duffy, Head Coach, University of Arizona Men’s Rugby
So, you get the call, email, or a coach comes up to you. It’s a college coach, and they want to talk to you about joining their program. Awesome, right? Well, it is, and this is the coach who you could be playing for over the next four years. But what’s the best way to handle communicating with that coach during the recruitment process and when should you make your decision?
1) RESPOND TO COMMUNICATION
Check your email regularly - if a coach emails you, try to respond in a reasonable amount of time (a couple of days). Don't wait a week or more to respond.
2) ASK QUESTIONS This is YOUR time to find out if this is a good fit for you. Yes, coaches are going to ask you questions and get to know you, but remember you need to make sure their program is a fit for your needs and goals. Here are some example questions:
-How many players do you have that play my position and how many will you have next year?
-How are selections made for the starting side? -Do most players get a lot of playing time?
-Do you allow players to play for national teams? -What is the time commitment like - year round? School year only?
4) SPEAK UP, THEN HAVE PARENTS SPEAK
I know a lot of parents are reading this, so let me first say how much I love you. You are the stockholders in this business and you should be asking a ton of questions…however, it is a red flag to me when the parent speaks and the player is silent. In about 70% of recruiting cases, I will have a separate call or email chain with mom and/or dad, and that’s great. But if I don’t hear at all from the player, that’s concerning. If a parent tells me his son is very interested and I have yet to hear from that player, that’s a bad sign and typically goes to the bottom of my recruiting pile.
5) FOOTAGE > REC LETTERS
Game footage is what I want to see. Doesn’t have to be a highlight tape, but that’s cool too. A letter of reference from a high school coach I’ve never met telling me how good you are does not help me when I have no idea who your coach is. Oh, and do not send weight room numbers. Nobody’s reading them*. (*Note: this can be dependent on certain coaches. There are a handful who do value seeing stats and numbers)
7) DECISION TIME DO’S AND DONT’S
This one is a really, really important one. Probably the most important one. Here is how you should approach the decision. After you’ve made your decision, you should 100% notify all coaches who are recruiting you that you are not coming. If you really want to be nice, notify coaches after you’ve narrowed down your list. Now I know that’s uncomfortable, but TRUST ME you are doing them a favor by freeing them up to go recruit others. They will thank you. A quick email or a phone call is great. Don’t do it via text. 99% of coaches will say “no worries, if you change your mind let me know.”
8) SIGNING DEADLINE IS NOT A THING
If any coach tells you “you have to make a decision by this date” he’s lying to you and afraid you’re going to go somewhere else. It’s not a thing in College Rugby and never has been.* (*Note: this can be dependent on certain programs – especially Varsity or NCAA programs.)
9) PROOFREAD YOUR EMAILS
I know many of you will write one email, and then send that to 5-6 different colleges. That’s fine. But make sure you put the right name in the right email. “I’ve always wanted to go to ____” and having it not be the correct school happens quite a bit and can be pretty embarrassing. Also, tons of typos can show a lack of attention or care in this communication. If you really are interested in a school, take your time and put together a well-written email.
10) BE PATIENT
Most coaches take a while to respond. Most are not full-time coaches so they have full-time jobs during the day and then coach and administer rugby in their spare time. If they take a while, cut them some slack. I’m full-time and it even takes me a while sometimes when we’re in-season.