West Chester University Men’s Rugby On The Rise With Haglid’s Arrival
Sept 24, 2014
Q & A with Bjorn Haglid
Bjorn Haglid Bio: Player – U Delaware, U Arkansas, Wilmington RFC, Schuylkill River RFC
Head Coach: Wilmington Colts, Wilmington RFC, U Delaware, EPRU Collegiate All-stars HC, Villanova and Current HC West Chester U (D1-AA Keystone Rugby Conference)
RTR: Every program you have coached has significantly improved. You are in a unique situation recently having been the Head Men’s College Coach of D1A, D2 and now D1-AA programs. What similarities & differences exist with developing these programs?
BH: Firstly, my experience and how I deal with rugby programs has a lot to do with my profession, which is a structural engineer. So to me is about building a solid foundation, which sounds corny. With all these programs and most others is having players coming from or being part of a coached system. To use progression of skills and refinement, that every dropped ball is potentially a score for the other team. Overall, the biggest issue is the lack of core skills. Passing and catching correctly. Backs knowing different kicks and the ability to apply them. Once this is achieved then we can really start to learn how to play the game of rugby.
RTR: With your experience with college teams what are some similar issues that programs have?
BH: College programs, ugh. Schools want the players to manage themselves but want coaches to be around to take blame when it goes all bad, which it will when left unchecked. Structure in a program, in that the officers are aware of what they are supposed to be doing to run it. How the team is perceived on social media is a big problem. Facebook is ‘cool’ but not a good format for everyone to see. Having a good website that provides information for potential incoming students, contact to schedule games and an up to date schedule. Using a free site is okay but gives you a ridiculous web address, use a web hosting site like Go Daddy and buy a name like DelawareRugby.com and use the forwarding application to direct to the free web address.
RTR: You have a signature rugby match attire of a coat & tie with rugby shorts that has drawn smiles for the last decade. Do you have a consistent coaching philosophy that you maintain?
BH: It is about dressing for the occasion. When the referees look over to the sideline they have no doubt who the coach is on that day. It is goofy in one sense but it is my attempt at a professional attire with a rugby attitude. The same for my players, dress to play. Have rugby cleats, team socks and clean shorts. Be prepared and show it to others.
RTR: Describe an accomplishment of a rugby program in which you coached that is a source of pride. What is a change that you also deemed necessary to help a program be successful?
BH: That would be University of Delaware. When I started coaching the squad it was a bunch of goofballs. Low attendance with senior selection to position. Which means most senior, not ability, gets to pick his position. It took a couple of years to ultimately change the culture, only when that happened we could grow as a coach and team to become one of the best on the east coast. The accumulation of the years of hard work was traveling out to Utah to play BYU and then Utah University back to back on Friday and then Saturday for fun. The team played great and it was a perfect road trip.
RTR: West Chester University is a member of the D1-AA Keystone Rugby Conference. This Conference is a quality ACRC conference. Who do you see as the leading contenders for the Conference title? When needs to happen for West Chester to contend?
BH: Well we just got rolled over by West Virginia, so I would have to say that they are poised to win the conference again this year. I also see St. Joe’s as a contender, they have a great program and good recruiting from some of the local strong high school programs. For West Chester to start contending, we need learn to work better as a team and stop watching and start playing. Quicker reaction time and understanding the fundamentals of the rugby game.
RTR: I am aware that one of the first partnerships with West Chester was the connection to the New Zealand Bay of Plenty Rugby Study Abroad Program. How was this connection received by the University and how will participation make a difference for the Men’s program?
BH: This is one of my many connections that I had started and have with programs outside our area while at University of Delaware. Their program director reached out to me and asked if U of D would be interested, I told them that actually West Chester University would be more. I sat down with head of International Studies at WCU, Dr. Peter Loedel and explained the possibilities for the school. We then met with the Bay of Plenty representative, Mr Peter Sommers and exchange thoughts and talked about costs to students and how to implement a study aboard for our students and theirs. Hosting one or two future all-blacks didn’t sound too bad for me…
RTR: Many would find it interesting that the Women’s Rugby Program at West Chester is a Varsity sport, while the Men’s program is a Club sport. Achieving parity with the programs is not the intent of this of this question. Could you describe the support that the Men’s rugby program receives, as well as, what would need to occur for this support to increase?
BH: Unfortunately, these are questions I hope to find out in the future but at this time we use a field at the edge of the campus that we share with others and they have a beautiful maintained rugby only one on south campus.
RTR: Lastly, a program grows with the numbers of quality experienced players choosing to attend the University. What would you share with prospective players and their parents about the benefits of attending and playing rugby at West Chester University/
BH: The rugby program has been around and on campus since 1973. It is well received and supported by the school. The campus is tight and easy to get around. Beautiful architecture for the campus and many upgrades in living and supporting the students on campus. They have a two story indoor rock climbing wall that is amazing. Come check out the campus and put us on list of schools to visit.
University Website (http://www.wcupa.edu/)
Men’s Rugby Website (http://www.wcuramsrugby.com/)
As an alumnus of West Chester University, I hope that the Men’s Rugby Club has a successful Keystone Rugby Conference season and develops into a quality rugby program.
Thank you Bjorn for taking the time for this interview.