BOULDER, Colo. – Former Men’s Eagle lock Luke Gross has taken over the position of head coach for the University of Colorado’s Men’s Rugby Club.
After a playing career that tallied 62 international caps, including 61 starts and 41 appearances in the English Premiership, Gross now works down the street from the Boulder campus as the High Performance Coaching Manager for USA Rugby.
In his role with USA Rugby, Gross has become familiar with coaching college-grade players in elite environments, but for only brief stints at a time. The former Newcastle Falcon second-rower says the ability to make a greater impact in player development as a collegiate head coach inspired him to accept the position.
“It’s a challenge that I’ve never taken on before,” expressed Gross. “After years of assisting and working with young men and women in high performance camps that last only days at a time, this is an opportunity to develop student-athletes over the course of an entire season and collegiate careers.”
While still getting acquainted with the University and the team’s returning roster, Gross is more concerned with personal growth than conference championships at the moment.
“Off the pitch, the goal is to develop good young men who will contribute positively to campus and their communities, as well as excel in the classroom,” Gross explained. “On the field, all I’ll ask is for the boys to compete and give it their all. If they do that, then the wins will take care of itself.”
Gross takes over for a coaching staff that included former head coach and director of rugby Sean Edris, as well as assistants David Benson, Phil Kelly, and current head coach Jim Snyder. The voluntary exit of Edris and his longtime colleagues, Benson and Kelly, ends a 22-year run at the helm of the Colorado Rugby program, while Snyder had been on the staff since 2007.
During his tenure leading the Denver Barbarians, the 2008 RugbyMag Coach of the Year noticed collegiate players weren’t entering club environments with the proper skill sets needed to compete at a high level. This led Edris to accept his first collegiate coaching position, and one that would last for over two decades.
“At the time there was very little high school rugby going on,” recalled Edris of the rugby landscape in 1993. “I always considered myself more of a teacher than a coach, and recognized that I could make a greater impact at the college level.”
Under Edris’ watch, the Buffaloes produced several AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans and conference championships, as well as a National Semifinal appearance in 2008.
Competing out of the West Conference, the Buffaloes finished the 2014-15 season with a 2-4-2 league record, and ranked No. 19 in the Canterbury D1A Top 20.