Rugby New York Announces 2023 Coaching Staff

Rugby New York announced their coaching group for the  2023 Major league Rugby season.

Photo: Rugby New York

James Semple

James Semple is the head coach. He is from Tauranga, New Zealand, and lives in Hamilton. James, who will be 33 years old in January has expensive rugby experience as both a player at fullback and flyhalf and as a coach. He played rugby at Auckland University, New Zealand Universities, Currie Rugby Club in Scotland, Farul Constanta in Romania, Counties Manukau, North Harbour, and the Utah Warriors.

His coaching resume includes being the Development Officer for Currie Rugby Club, The Development Officer for the Edinburgh area, and the Rugby Coach Development Coach of Chiefs Rugby Club with responsibilities for being the Waikato Mitre 10 kicking coach, Waikato Women’s Assistant Coach, Chiefs Under-18s resource coach, and the Waikato Representative for 10 clubs and 6 high schools.

He was also the Assistant Coach and Academy Manager with the Utah Warriors, the Hamilton Old Boys Ruby Club Head Coach, the Chiefs Women’s Assistant Coach, the Waikato Women’s Head Coach, and the Blues Aupiki Women’s Assistant Coach.

While he was the Waikato Women’s Head Coach, the team was FPC 2020 Runners-up and in 2021 won their first National Championship in the Club’s history. This led to his nomination for New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year in both 2020 and 2021, as well as, as New Zealand Team of the Year in 2021.

Ben Afeaki

Ben retired from playing rugby at age 27 after the effects of concussions. He played prop for the New Zealand U20s, North Harbour, the Chiefs, and the Māori All Blacks, and had one cap for the All Blacks (#1119) where he played against France on 8 June 2013.

Ben, who is from Auckland, New Zealand, will be 35 years old in January. He was the Forwards Coach at North Harbour and the Scrum Coach of the Blues. He will have similar responsibilities with Rugby New York as the Forwards Coach.

Andy Ellis

For the past two years, Andy played scrum-half and flyhalf with Rugby New York until his retirement after winning the 2022 MLR Shield Championship. He played rugby with the New Zealand Colts, New Zealand Under-21s, the Barbarians, Canterbury, the Crusaders, Kobelco Steelers in Japan’s Top League, and for the All Blacks (#1068) where he earned 28 caps.

While with Rugby New York he was instrumental in providing coaching assistance while playing and has recently conducted coaching clinics.

Andy, who is 38 years old, is from Christchurch, New Zealand, and attended Lincoln University studying Landscape Architecture. He has had business interests in bringing satellite communications to rural areas of New Zealand and has been involved in the hospitality industry with wagyu beef.

Ollie Richardson

Ollie is Head of High Performance with Rugby New York and joined the team in 2022. He has had similar roles in rugby union, rugby league, and in mixed Martial arts.

Ollie has worked with the Huddersfield Giants Rugby League, the Kubota Spears, England Rugby, and Leicester Tigers, and consulted with Kurita Rugby.

Steve Lewis

Stephen Lewis is from Glasgow, Scotland, and played rugby as a scrumhalf. He has been in the United States for many years and was a coach with Vale Rugby Football Club while he was involved with Real Estate in Colorado.

Steve has a BA in International Politics from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, an MA in International Relations from the University of Denver, and an MS in Sports Business from New York University.

He is a two-time USA Rugby Coach of the Year and has been a USA Rugby Representative in Congress since 2017, as well as one of the high-performance coaches in rugby sevens. He has won USA Rugby National Club Championships and has been the Head Coach of both Nigeria and Jamaica Sevens.

Steve previously was the founder and Director of Coaching for the Northeast Olympic Development Academy and the New York Sevens. He is on the Board of Directors for the National Collegiate Rugby and is the part-time Director of Rugby for the Co-Optimists Rugby.

Steve is the Director of Rugby Operations for Rugby New York and the team’s Coaching Coordinator. He is frequently involved with coaching clinics and in providing community outreach to area rugby clubs, as well as with consulting with the USA Sevens. He also has been involved with Rugbytown Sevens coaching with Jesters Rugby.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant