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The Recruiting Mistakes College Coaches Make

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The Recruiting Mistakes College Coaches Make

Got to get those players signed. But there are pitfalls.

This is a weird time for college recruiting as the COVID-19 pandemic has led schools to shift to online learning, or to shut down or curtail sports; meanwhile, reports are that college enrollment, expected to be down this year, is likely holding steady or may even be up at some institutions.

It's weird. All the things that are supposed to make college more fun—the social stuff and the activities and sports—are on hold or limited, but kids are still going to college. Why? Well, beats being stuck at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

So the college rugby recruiting game is still on. Some programs have found that players they recruited from overseas can't come to the country because either their home nation or the US isn't issuing visas.

Late Report Due To Pandemic—The New College Preseason 

We asked D1A coaches what are some of the key recruiting mistakes teams make. Here are some of their answers.


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Mistake #1

"Thinking they are ready to make the jump, they all require development!"

There are freshmen who break into the starting lineup, but, yes, it's easy even with those players to assume they are a finished product. Even the phenom needs to improve.

Mistake #2

"Over-promise what they can do to help."

This is basically a mistake of transparency. Successful coaches are very clear about what assistance they can provide in admissions or in costs. Yes some coaches have influence over admissions, but players still need to meet certain academic standards. 

Another coach said pretty much the same thing, but added to it:

"Over-promising on aspects of program they can’t deliver."

This could also apply to the team itself—oh yes, we play the best teams in the country (do you?); we have access to the school's best facilities (maybe?).

This kind of over-promising can get the student-athlete into the school, but will he stay? One coach thinks not:

"They make promises which are not deliverable; they think only about today, not disclosing poor rugby retention rates alongside poor graduation rates."

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Mistake #3

"Thinking that alumni-funded rugby scholarships are worthwhile. If it’s less than 20% of the tuition bill, nobody cares."

Ouch. This seems a bit harsh. If a scholarship hits 10% or 15% of the tuition bill, is that nothing? In fact, this writer has experience with small scholarship. as my father started one at his alma mater. It was designed to provide a small addition to an accomplished student already enrolled. Several times he received thank-yous from seniors who said they were cash-strapped for their final year and weren't sure they could finish. A few thousand dollars ensured they could pay their tuition and graduate. So Mistake #3? We disagree.

Mistake #4

"Giving potential student athletes an exploding offer. It is an often used predatory practice. I encourage all students who receive them to just immediately say no thank you."

An exploding offer is akin to "this message will self-destruct in five seconds." Recruits are told that the offer, whatever it is, expires in a day, or a week. It's designed to push a student into making a decision now, and taking the bird in the hand over what may come down the pike later. It can also backfire on a coach because a student can still change his mind.

Mistake #5

"Investing too much time in kids who cannot get into your school."

This is related to Mistake #2, but from the other side. Both the coach and the student have to be realistic about a student's chances. If your grades and standardized tests are not good, it's unlikely your rugby skill will erase that. You're better off going to a two-year college to prove that 

Another coach concurred that this was a problem, saying: "spending too much time on recruits who won’t be competitive for admission," is a mistake coaches make.

And finally, a big one:

Mistake #6

"Negatively commenting on other teams and coaches."

This is a huge one. If you know anything about us at GRR, we don't approve of coaches badmouthing other coaches. Hey, you never know where you'll want to be coaching next. Players hear the negative comments and remember them. Sometimes they are persuaded by them, and sometimes they're turned off.