USA: Irene Gardner

Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens bronze medallist hopes that the Gallagher High Performance Academy will lead to more elite coaching roles for women

Irene Gardner already has an impressive coaching CV, but the former USA Eagles Sevens player would like to see more women taking on similar roles.

Gardner is currently USA Rugby’s women’s pathway head coach, with responsibility for the development of Under-23 and Under-18 players. She is also assistant coach for both men’s and women’s rugby at Stanford University, head coach of the Rocky Mountain Experts Premier Sevens side, and founder of the Legends Rugby Academy, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at increasing access to sevens rugby for women and girls in the United States.

She is now among the latest cohort of coaches from around the world to join the Gallagher High Performance Academy, a programme Gardner hopes will lead to an increase in the number of female coaches and other high performance roles at the elite end of the sport.

“It is incredibly important to support a shift that focuses on more female coaches, and all support staff and roles, in elite sport,” Gardner told World Rugby.

“Many female coaches at present take on multiple coaching roles simultaneously to ensure a female presence for athletes.

“There is so much value to our athletes having female coaches and staff. Programmes like this can help close the gap of where a coach is, to where they need to be, in order to succeed in high performance roles. It helps to create a network of coaches which otherwise might not exist.”

Although Gardner did not start playing rugby until her second year at university, she made rapid progress and was a member of the Eagles Women’s side that beat Spain in extra-time to win the third-place play-off at the 2013 women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens, in Moscow.

Gardner took on coaching roles while she was still playing and discovered she had an aptitude for what is now her chosen career.

“Saying ‘yes’ to coaching opportunities as a young adult led to me seeing and beginning to understand the potential of another person through sport,” she said.

“On the Gallagher High Performance Academy, I hope to get an understanding of how to enhance the level of Sevens, not just domestically; and how we can support each other to increase opportunities for high level Sevens.

“I also want to learn how to best utilise staff and develop in the weekly, monthly and annual planning of a programme.”

Last updated: Mar 1, 2024, 1:51:24 PM