The game of rugby has taken USD women’s coach Bryn Chivers across the globe. He’s coached two different national teams for a total of nine years.
But, if you ask him, he likes where he’s at in Vermillion, coaching a team of rugby players new to the game.
“I am enjoying coaching a team that is very much in the developmental phase,” Chivers said. “They are players who are brand new to the sport. And you’re coaching them some basic stuff to start them off. And a pathway to really falling in love with the sport, as opposed to you know honing preexisting skills to play high-level competition. It’s a different way of coaching.”
Chivers, a native of Wales, fell in love with the game at an early age. He eventually went to soccer, but something about the game called him back, he said.
“I went to a school where you have to play rugby, and after you played rugby for a certain amount of time, then you were allowed to then play football – soccer,” Chivers said. “And so, rugby was my first sport. And then, soccer. After that, if you wanted to go back to that remedial round ball. I grew up with the sport as my national sport and following specific teams, like the Wales national team.”
Family brought Chivers to the United States, but he said it wasn’t long before he saw a connection to the game he loved and his newfound country.
“It became one of those things that was important enough for me to base decisions about life around; moving to places, because they will have a good rugby team and I could go coach as well as do another interesting job,” he said.
After guiding various collegiate teams, he coached the USA U20 women’s squad from 2005-2012. He led two different teams to Nations Cup finals in 2009 and 2011.
“When I first moved to South Dakota, which was about 15 years ago, I coached briefly,” Chivers said. “I was living in Sioux Falls and the travel was just too much, and then I’d come up the opportunity to go coach the USA women’s U20 national team came up and that took me away from coaching at the college level for seven or eight years.”
He said one of his favorite places the game has taken him is Asia. They didn’t share the same language, but did share a passion for the sport.
“I’ve had lots of really exciting experiences some in the sport,” Chivers said. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world with the sport and have a wealth of memories. I really enjoyed Southeast Asia. Some of the challenges of the language, trying to convey your love of a sport, while being pampered by not speaking the language is a challenge.”
After his stint with the USA women and the Laos men, Chivers found himself in a different role within the game – Director of Women’s Rugby at the National Small College Rugby Organization – a role he holds to this day.
“Every day is about rugby for me,” Chivers said.