Internationally renowned as the gentlemen’s code, Rugby Union has earned its place in history as dignified and nuanced, while ensuring an exciting future with its ‘Sevens’ now being an Olympic sport. With teams from France to South Africa it is also one of the most globally affecting. Keeping this in mind, and with the aim of internationally being ahead of the rest, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Level Three Coaching Course is designed to provide their coaches with advanced education to enhance their abilities in high-level competition.

The high-performance coaching course consists of pre and post season live-in camps, features both rugby union specific and broad learning modules, and rigorous assessment.  Modules are delivered by a range of field experts including senior coaching staff, elite coaches from neighboring sports as well as leading technicians from the Australian Institute of Sport. All this, combined with academic expertise from leading Australian Universities, makes for a comprehensive learning program.

Coaching Pathway Services Manager for the ARU, Matthew Wilkie, who has a Master’s degree in Coaching and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Talent Development, leads the course.  He says the ultimate aim of the program is creativity, and an interest in being able to think like this bodes well for coach participants. The most successful coaches in rugby union are leaders first, athlete centered, excellent communicators, challenge learning, enjoy what they do, and “work harder off the field than on it”.

The program’s philosophy is to shift the focus for coaches who have a belief in and desire for ‘the ultimate playbook’ in which they perceive their success will lie.  “Instead, a greater focus is directed towards striving to be athlete centered and meeting the needs of their players and team overall.  This means more education and training around successfully managing and communicating with athletes, staff, management and their boards.”

Matthew says that the CoachDISC Profiles, together with the theory and application of DISC, is used heavily throughout the course and is an invaluable tool when developing coaches at this level.

The biggest challenge for Australian rugby union coaches is the domestic opportunities for talented coaches to take on and that there is currently a significant step from club to professional rugby, with limited opportunities.  However, Matthew does elude that this is all about to change!  (Watch this space.)

One of the most important facets of this course is that the opportunity exists for further training and ongoing development once the course has finished. This maintains momentum for ongoing improvement and raises the bar in how they continue to progress.


  • ARU Level 3 Coaching Course
  • 12 month course (2 x 4-day residentials, 10 assessment tasks)
  • 25% on field | 75% in class
  • 20 coaches every 2 years
  • Coaches are Professional (SuperRugby), Premiership Grade and High Level Youth representative coaches from across Australia
  • Most important goal of the program: Provide education and training to coaches working in environments that engage with professional athletes in their rugby programs (either full time or part time).

“The CoachDISC Profiling is a practical way to emphasize to coaches the importance of understanding how people communicate, interact and respond to different approaches; of thinking beyond the technical/tactical; as well as better understanding for coaches of ‘how’ they coach and do what they do.”


“Athlete Assessments adds value to our course through expert delivery of information in an area that complements and integrates with the ARU coaching development approach.”

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Bo Hanson

Senior Consultant & Director

Bo Hanson’s career within the sport and the business sector spans over 25 years, delivering leadership, management, and coach development. In addition to his own athletic career comprising of four Olympic appearances and including three Olympic medals, Bo has worked for many years with coaches and athletes from over 40 different sports across the globe. Bo was also the winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) 2023 Award for L&D Professional of the Year, for his dedication to L&D and transformational work across various industries.

After a successful career in sport including four Olympics and three Olympic Medals, Bo co-founded and developed Athlete Assessments in 2007. Bo now focuses on working with clients to achieve their own success on and off ‘the field’, and has attained an unmatched track-record in doing exactly this.

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Now, watch us interrupt him for a round of quick fire questions.