An integral part of the club’s remit is to help grow and develop the sport around the world and this is carried out by the Penguin International Coaching Academy. The coaching remit of the Penguins was formalised in partnership with club sponsor HSBC and in 2004 the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy was created by Alan Wright and Craig Brown. Whilst HSBC is still a supporter of the Club reference to HSBC in the formal title was ended in 2014.
Since formation in 2004, the Academy, made up of Penguins from all over the world, has travelled to many different destinations and coached thousands of children and adults. As well as introducing youngsters to the sport – many for the first time – through HSBC Rugby Festivals, special ‘Coach Education’ sessions are held with teachers and non-qualified coaches around the world to increase the number of IRB qualified coaches and ensure a legacy remains. Kit donation has also been a key part of the programme, especially in South Africa during the HSBC sponsored British and Irish Lions Tour in 2009.
Along with traditional rugby markets like the UK, Ireland and South Africa, the Academy has been very active in Asia, working in the likes of Hong Kong, China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Sri Lanka and the UAE. The Academy has visited a broad variety of rugby clubs, orphanages, inner-city schools, isolated villages and even prisons around the world.
In partnership with ARFU (Asian Rugby Football Union), the HSBC Penguins played a key role in the delivery of the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour which began in 2010. The following year, it grew as it supported not only host countries in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament but also the new HSBC Asian Sevens Series, while also travelling to emerging rugby nations like Mongolia and Macau.
In its first two years, the Coaching Tour has travelled to over 15 different countries across Asia and introduced thousands of youngsters to the sport. HSBC ambassadors including former All Blacks John Kirwan and Jonah Lomu have joined the HSBC Penguins in coaching children and inspiring youngsters of all ages to play rugby.
Made up of players from several different nations itself, the Penguin International Coaching Academy is able to communicate with different ages, nationalities and coach all levels of experience as well as helping adults who have never coached before to become qualified coaches.