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Leeds Beckett University student named England Rugby Union under 18s Head Coach


Leeds Beckett University MSc Sport Coaching student, Jonathan Pendlebury, has been appointed Head Coach of England Rugby Union’s under-18s academy team.

Jon P

Jonathan previously worked at Yorkshire Carnegie, and more recently Wasps in their academy programmes.

His new role with the Rugby Football Union will also see him help develop players through the national development pathway.

Dr Andrew Abraham, Head of Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Sport said: “We in the Carnegie Sport Coaching subject group are thoroughly delighted with the news that Jon has been appointed as coach to the England under 18s.

“This achievement underlined Jon’s commitment to his own development and work ethic. Jon gained his BSc Sport Coaching degree with us in 2015, completing the course while working fulltime as Assistant Academy Manager at Yorkshire Carnegie.

"He has since taken the decision to enrol on our MSc Sport Coaching and we were delighted to have him back around.

“Jon’s willingness to share his knowledge and experiences and learn with and from others enriches the programme immeasurably.

“Fundamentally, he has always shown a desire to challenge his own practice in order to help the development of his players.

“We are certain Jon will excel in his role, both in working with the players and working collaboratively with the clubs that players come from.”

A former professional player, Jonathan enjoyed success playing for Gloucester, Rotherham and Yorkshire Carnegie, as well as representing England at age group level before he hung up his boots in 2012.

His first task as the new head coach will see him guide England through their fixtures at the start of 2020 before his team compete in the under-18s Six Nations Festival and summer development tour.

Jonathan Pendlebury said: “I am really excited for the opportunity to join the RFU and England age group pathway, working with a staff team that is in a position to support the 14 regional academies and the emerging ‘best’ players.

"I think with the Junior age groups progressing up to the U20s and beyond we are at an exciting time where we can influence ‘better practice’ from an NGB point of view, as well as creating a challenging and supportive environment for the 16-18 year olds at this point in their development phase.

"Going forward, I will be creating a programme of development that draws on my coaching experience gained from being out on the grass and the learning gained from my RFU awards, Sport Coaching degree and what I am currently working on through my MSc with Leeds Beckett University.

"In particular I am excited about working with the ideas gained from my time at Leeds Beckett University around curriculum building and long-term planning and seeing them come to life.”

In his time at Leeds Beckett University, Jonathan has been heavily involved as a practitioner in supporting Carnegie School of Sport’s rugby union research, working alongside Professor Ben Jones. 

Professor Jones said: “This appointment is fantastic for Jonathan, someone we have worked closely with for a number of years.

“Jonathan was Assistant Academy Manager, then Academy Manager at Yorkshire Carnegie working alongside a number of Leeds Beckett University PhD students who were embedded within the club.

“Jonathan actively engaged in the research programmes, using the findings to inform his coaching planning and practices.

“On moving to Wasps as Academy Manager, he appointed a Postdoctoral Research Fellow through Leeds Beckett University to continue the research within his new programme. Jonathan was passionate about his own professional development, and that of others, so we are really pleased for him.”

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