Leicester Tigers believe a new exchange programme with Sydney University Football Club can provide mutual benefits for coaches and players in the long term.
Tigers duo Sam Eveleigh and James Whitcombe are settling into new surroundings in Australia this week at the start of a three-month stay to train and play with the University club as the first steps in building a relationship which can benefit both parties.
‘The Students’ compete in Sydney’s Shute Shield competition and have provided more than 100 Australia internationals in their history, including 1991 World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones, 1999 World Cup winners Richard Harry and Jim Williams, and former Tigers player and coach Pat Howard.
The club also unearthed well-known Wallabies Phil Waugh, Brendan Cannon, David Lyons, Dan Vickerman, Luke Burgess, Dean Mumm, Dave Dennis, Will Skelton and current internationals Nick Phipps, Tom Robertson and Bernard Foley.
And Whitcombe, who can play on both sides of the scrum, will get a first taste of southern hemisphere rugby when he starts at tighthead for Sydney's Colts' second XV against Eastwood this Saturday, June 22.
Tigers head of rugby operations Ged Glynn oversees the work of the club’s academy system, and said: “We see this as the start of a long-term relationship with the rugby programme at the Sydney University club which will involve the exchange of ideas in coaching, medical, and strength and conditioning as well as players.
“We hope to welcome university coaches as part of their professional development and we will be looking to welcome a couple of players in exchange next year as well as enabling some of our younger coaching staff to go there and gain different experience.”
Eveleigh and Whitcombe both played in Tigers’ Under-18 League title-winning team in 2018/19 and will train and play within the university set-up before returning to join the Tigers development squad in 2019/20.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Sam and James to embark on the next phase of their own development this summer,” added Glynn.
“They have the chance to move out of the familiar surroundings of the Tigers to a new environment in a new country to continue their rugby education.
“The transition of players from academy to development level is an extremely important area and the players have a chance to gain some exposure and experience before they join the senior group back here.”