Willocks comes to Penn State after serving the past four years at Dartmouth College, where he was assistant coach and the team’s strength and conditioning coach. He also served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Big Green football program the past three years.
A native of Balclutha, on the South Island of New Zealand, Willocks helped the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club win four Ivy League XV and 7s Championships, become a Div. I-AA finalist and the U.S. Rugby 7s bowl champions.
“James Willocks has demonstrated a high level of passion for, and understanding of, the values of Penn State and the student-athlete experience,” said Assistant Athletic Director Michael Cross, who oversees the men’s and women’s rugby club programs. “His energy, enthusiasm for recruiting, core values, relationship building skills and technical knowledge of rugby will be extremely beneficial to Penn State Rugby’s dedicated students and give the team an opportunity to achieve at the highest levels. I look forward to working with him to fully implement his vision for the program and welcome him and his family to State College.”
“I would like to express my gratitude to Michael Cross, Sandy Barbour, Phil Esten and the entire search committee for this opportunity,” Willocks said. “Thank you to all those involved, past and present, with Penn State Rugby who have contributed to the program and helped develop it into one of the nation’s leading rugby programs. Penn State is a world class institution that excels in academics and athletics, my family and I are very honored and extremely excited to accept the position and lead the men’s rugby program.
“I also want to thank Alex Magleby, Gavin Hickie and Buddy Teevens for the opportunities that I have been provided during my time at Dartmouth and for the opportunity to learn from and work with people of such great character.”
A graduate of New Zealand’s University of Otago, Willocks earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in exercise & sports science and exercise prescription. He has served as an intern for the Otago ITM Cup rugby team in New Zealand, where he also played Premier Level rugby for the Alhambra Union Rugby Club.
Willocks serves as an assistant coach with USA Rugby’s Men’s Collegiate All American team, and will tour Australia with the squad this August. He previously served as a strength and conditioning and skills coach with the squad.