CHICAGO (June 23, 2021) – The Midwest Rugby Football Union (MWRFU) announced its Thunderbird Program Men’s Select Side executive coaching staff. These individuals will be focused on presenting MWRFU membership with higher performance playing and coaching development opportunities.
“We are extremely excited with the group of coaches that have accepted our invitations to lead the Men’s Thunderbird selects,” said MWRFU Vice President of Competition and Thunderbird Program Manager Gary Lobaugh. “This group brings a wealth of high-level international and domestic rugby experiences along with a deep-rooted enthusiasm for the Thunderbird program.”
Thunderbirds Head Coach: Paul Vercoe
- A native of New Zealand, Paul played and coached for Power House Rugby Union before moving to the United States in the late 1990s.
- Former Head Coach of the Chicago Lions while they were competing in the US Super League.
- Former Chicago Area Rugby Football Union (CARFU) and Midwest Select Side coach.
- Served as the Forwards Coach for the USA Rugby U-19 Boys Team at the 2003 World Championships.
- Former Coach Educator and Coach Trainer for World Rugby, Course Leader and Program Reviewer for the USAR Coach Development Program for 15 years.
Assistant Head Coach/Eastern Conference Head Coach: Steve Walsh
- A native of Australia, Steve brings more than 25 years of experience to the staff, which includes playing and coaching in Australia, France, England, and the US.
- Earlier in his career, Steve played Union with Randwick Rugby Club.
- Played League professionally for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
- Presently serves as head coach of the Pittsburgh Forge (D1).
Assistant Head Coach/Western Conference Head Coach: Josh Allen
- A native of England, Josh formerly played for Sale Sharks (Union) and the Leeds Rhinos (League) player.
- Represented England at the U-16 level internationally.
- Current player/coach with the Chicago Griffins (D1) and Chicago Rugby Club.
Assistant Thunderbird Coach: Charlie Jacobson
- Charlie brings more than 20 years of rugby experience, including playing, coaching, and serving as an administrator.
- Former Midwest Thunderbird and CARFU Select Side player.
- Former Chicago Griffins (D1) player.
- Former Midwest Men’s Division 1 Coordinator.
Assistant Thunderbird Coach: Al Lucas
- Al brings more than 25 years of coaching at various levels, including Men’s, Women’s, Collegiate, and Youth rugby.
- Former select side player and coach.
- Player and coach for the Cincinnati Rugby Football Club (D1).
- Serves on the USAR Board of Directors as the representative from Senior Club Rugby.
Lobaugh added, “In addition, the staff also will be hosting elite-level coaching and training sessions online throughout the next months. We also are enlisting Thunderbird alumni that advanced in their rugby careers to the international and professional playing and coaching levels to assist as technical advisors.”
The coaching staff of the Thunderbirds will be working closely with Local Area Unions (LAUs) to develop and promote the best players to the conference-based representative sides. Each LAU will be sending a side to the LAU Tournament on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
The Eastern Conference sides will compete at the Fortress Obetz outside of Columbus, Ohio; and the Western Conference sides will compete at the Des Moines Rugby Club’s Rugby Grounds in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Following that competition, Eastern and Western Thunderbirds sides will be chosen and invited to compete August 14 -15, 2021, in Chicago. From that competition, a Thunderbird and Thunderbird Elite side will be chosen and scheduled high-level competition in November and December of 2021.
Please stay posted for additional details regarding this competition and for announcements related to Thunderbird Women’s coaching and competition. For more information regarding Midwest Selects, please email email@example.com.