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Penguin Coaching Academy Tour to Rwanda 

Kigali, 16 to 22 February 2019 


Article by Tony Penn


This trip was arranged in conjunction with the Rwandan Rugby Federation (RRF) and World Rugby to assist the further development of the Rwandan Rugby Federation on two different levels. The first was the running of World Rugby Coach and Referee courses and the second to assist the RRF management with developing the game further. All activities took place in Kigali and Ruhango. 

Management and Administration Support 

As part of the ongoing support to the RRF Tony Penn and Keith Wallace spent four days focussing on management and administration aspects.   This was timely given that a new President, Kamanda Tharcisse (long term friend of the Penguins) was appointed in November and the Charity “Friends of Rwandan Rugby” (FoRR who fund the Rugby Development Officers) have a new Chairman Glyn Watkins, who was also in Rwanda at the time.  

Meetings were held with:  

  1. Kamanda and Livingstone (The Chief Administrator funded by the Penguin Charity). 

  1. Glyn Watkins. 

  1. David Hughes, long-time supporter of Rwandan Rugby and friend of the Penguins 

  1. The Rwandan Rugby Federation Executive Committee and Glyn Watkins 

  1. Charles Haba, the former President of The Rwandan Cricket Association and the driving force behind their outstanding new ground. 

  1. Uwiringiyimana Callixte, Director of Planning the Ministry of Sport and Culture 

Meeting 4 was of key value as we seek a unified approach going forwards, with everyone working together with a common plan. 

Time was also taken to visit three potential sites for the proposed new pitch.

Coach and Referee Development  

Joining Tony and Keith on the tour were James Wade and Colin Brett, from the Scottish Rugby Union, who ran the World Rugby Coach and Referee Education courses respectively. 

Day 1 – Monday 18th February 

16 Coaches from across Rwanda completed a World Rugby Level 1 in Coaching 15-a-side Rugby at Amorhoro Stadium - the course was a mixture of indoor theory, educator led practical’s and opportunities for the coaches to practice their coaching skills. 

The modules which coaches covered included: 

  • Principles of Play: e.g. how the game works – the focus for the course was developing go forward and continuity skills, whilst ensuring coaches could safely manage the contest for possession 

  • Coaching skills: the coaches learned about the coaching process of Plan, Do & Review, Coaching styles and the core coaching skills of how to use introduction, demonstration, observation and feedback to ensure that players learn throughout coaching sessions. 

  • Session design – how to coach using games 


The weather was sunny and a balmy 27 degrees so most of course was conducted outside, on the pristine main pitch of the National Stadium. The course took place in unique circumstance, with around 1000 Rwandans sitting a driving theory test in the stands so for the first hour, coaches had to practice delivering using only whispers! 

James led a model session, namely on how deliver small sided warm up games that physically prepared players whilst developing the go forward techniques and skills of running, passing and kicking, moving into a continuity game with a skill breakout to bring to demonstrate one way of running a session. 

The afternoon saw the coaches working in small groups to deliver their own games and skill breakouts, to demonstrate some of the concepts which they picked up in the morning. The coaches showed great group management and showed creativity in how they designed their sessions.  

The final part of the day was an educator led practical on how to safely coach the tackle and the breakdown, doing so on the side of the pitch, which had now been given to an Arsenal sponsored football session! 

A great day, with coaches showing they had learned some new concepts to take back into their coaching.  

One coach, who joined the course after watching from the stands whilst doing his driving exam, hopefully takes his new-found skills to a local club!

Left to right - Keith Wallace , Colin Brett, James Wade , Tony Penn and a Completed Level 1 coaching and officiating course at the Amahoro National stadium in Kigali.

Day 2 – Tuesday 19th February 

Day two in Rwanda saw us return to Amahoro Stadium to deliver the World Rugby Introduction to Match Officiating Course to 8 future Rwandan referees. 

The course began with some great discussion on the principles of refereeing and the game, the role of the referee and the benefits to preventative communication to the player's during the game. 

It wasn't long before we were outside playing some games and giving the referees opportunities to develop key skills, such as the laws of tackle, ruck, maul and set piece that will allow them to manage games. 

Rugby as a sport can be so powerful and has the ability to draw curious people toward the game.  While we were out on the paddock, a local named James, who is deaf, turns up and joins in with the rest of the guys to play some rugby.  Not a bad experience for his first encounter of the game, in the national stadium! 

A great day developing future Rwandan referees who now have the fundamentals of refereeing and will contribute to the growth of the game.

Day 3 – Wednesday 20th February 

After a day focussing on refereeing, James and Colin went to the Lion de Fer Rugby Club based at Mumena Stadium in the Mumena district of Kigali to take a training session. The session focussed on developing the fitness of the players – so using small sided games with small intense periods of play, the players were put through their paces for 45 minutes.  

The novel aspect of this session was that it took place immediately after a Rwandan Premier League Football match had finished, with the Kiyovu FC players still celebrating on the pitch as the Lion de Fer Rugby players were warming up. 

Day 4 – Thursday 21st February 

The final day in Rwanda took us out to Ruhango in the south west of Rwanda, about 2 hours outside of Kigali. The purpose was to visit Joseph, a Rugby Development Officer who attended the World Rugby Level 2 in Coaching which we delivered in November 2018. This was a chance to see him coach in both a primary and secondary school settings. The sessions being delivered were fun, purposeful and engaged all participants – James was on hand to provide feedback and pointers and help deliver parts of the secondary school session – looking at creating options in attack. 

The coaches were once again made to feel very welcome, and we continue to see the progress made which is extremely satisfying.

Tony Penn and Livingstone who is the CEO of Rwanda Rugby. This position is funded by the very generous support of the Penguins

Jack Speak
Community Group
Jack Speak
Community Group