USA Rugby High Performance National Development Pathway Verification Process

USA Rugby Release

USA Rugby High Performance has announced a verification process to officially recognize National Development Programs (NDPs) as part of its pathway.

To have verification potential, organizations must provide development outside of scholastic or club programs to players aged 12-25.  Operations should run 6-12 months out of the year — with weekly or bi-weekly sessions — including rugby, strength & conditioning and nutrition programming.

To achieve NDP status, applicants will be evaluated on the degree to which they meet set criteria under the following benchmarks:

  • Organization and Planning
  • Player Development
  • Coaching Development
  • Information, Reflection, and Growth



Each benchmark has its own set of key performance indicators (KPIs).  Potential NDPs will be rated on a scale of zero to four, based on how closely the minimum standard is met. Those who average 2-3 across all KPIs will receive status as an NDP while those who score above 3 will be recognized as a Gold NDP. Verified NDPs are re-evaluated every year while Gold NDPs will be reviewed every two years.

For players, coaches, and parents, verification provides a roadmap to programs that deliver high-performance development and may yield opportunities for identification and entrance into the national team pathway. USA Rugby may also direct athletes to verified programs in their area.

Verified programs will be listed on the USA Rugby website and receive opportunities to shadow pathway assemblies. Access to guidance, support, and best practices from high-performance staff will be regularly available, as well.

The submission period for verification will run from July 1-31 each year with a notice of status provided by early September.


For questions, contact Men’s High-Performance Pathways Manager Brendan Keane at

Director of Women’s High Performance, Emilie Bydwell said:

“The verification process for supplemental high-performance programs that support the development of elite players has been long-awaited by the rugby community.  The revised system will provide much-needed clarity in the community and also allow USA Rugby to better

direct aspiring Eagles to programs that meet best practice standards.”

Men’s High-Performance Pathway Manager, Brendan Keane said:

“In addition to recognizing programs that provide high-performance development around the country, this process is an important piece of building a more connected development ecosystem in the US; one focused on individual and collective excellence.

“As we look to improve and deepen our connections and cooperation with the club and school teams, it is necessary to do the same with programs seeking to provide additional player development. We also hope this initiative will deliver a framework to help offer advice, support, and information sharing for those who wish to create high-performance programs.”

General Manager of USA Rugby High-Performance Pathways, JD Stephenson said:

“This process and structure are vital to ensuring we provide clarity around high performance for all stakeholders in the rugby community. It also ensures that we can continue to work hand-in-hand with those who are developing tomorrow’s Eagles.”

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant