Coaches Week Spotlight: Ryan Clancy

September 19, 2022


Coaches Week Spotlight: Ryan Clancy

September 19th, 2022

(Whitby, ON) - National Coaches Week is an annual campaign lead by the Coaching Association of Canada. Coaches Week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by taking the time to recognize and thank them for all their efforts. Join in on the week by recognizing your favourite coach on social media using the hashtag #ThanksCoach. Tag Rugby Ontario in the post so we can recognize them as well!

In celebration of National Coaches Week, Rugby Ontario is profiling volunteer coaches from across the Ontario rugby community. This spotlight features Ryan Clancy. Ryan has coached teams for London St. George's and St. Anne's CSS. He has also served as a coach for the Ontario Blues High Performance Program. Read below to learn more about Ryan!

How did you first get involved with rugby?

I was introduced to rugby in grade 9 at my high school. A teacher/coach and a few friends encouraged me to play, and I quickly fell in love with the contact and strategy of the game. 

What is your favourite rugby memory?

So many ideas run through my mind regarding a favourite rugby memory. I think the pinnacle moment was coaching our girls high school team during an epic bronze medal match winning 10-5 in extra time to earn our first OFSAA medal. The group had so many terrific kids who had worked for years and this was a culmination of those efforts. I fought back tears of absolute joy as I called each player’s name in the medal ceremony.  

What do you love most about the sport?

There is a spot on the field for everyone in rugby and I absolutely love that fact. Teams are always looking for good athletes, but rugby is one of the few sports where big strong players, and small quick players not only have a role, but they can be stars and have impact in team success. Those kids might not make another team like volleyball or soccer, but rugby welcomes them, and they can be massive components of the team.   

What made you want to become a coach?

I’ve had some great role models for coaches throughout my life. Starting with my father and numerous others across many sports, I have always loved athletics and have found ways to be involved even when not playing. I’ve been able to officiate, assist other youth teams, keep stats for teams and leagues and even enjoyed watching games to dissect strategy and decision making. Becoming a teacher made it an easy transition to enter the coaching ranks for school teams and this allowed me to start trying to repay all I had been given by coaches in my life.    

What role have mentors and mentees played in your coach development? Anyone you want to give a shoutout to?

Over the last 20+ years I have been blessed to have great coaches and I’ve tried to absorb, borrow and steal any great game strategy, training idea or leadership points I see. I think all good coaches do this and I try to do the same. An old baseball coach named Ben had a huge impact on me when I was taking results too seriously for my own good. We had a terrific sit down and he told me that “life is too short not to smile when you are playing a game. If you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself, go do something else”. That talk had a profound impact and provided much needed perspective. I always try to live that philosophy when coaching but also everyday in life. 

What challenges come with being a coach?

The time and energy required to foster individual skills and love of the game can be draining, especially when winning results might not be occurring. Finding small successes and incremental growth isn’t always appreciated by players and parents in today’s society that often demands instant gratification. 

What is your favourite part about coaching?

The relationships I’ve built over the years with players and fellow coaches is right up there, but helping kids develop skills and seeing them grow from young adults to solid members of their community is my most enjoyable accomplishment as a coach. I really hope I’m having a positive impact in the lives of people and encouraging them to be coaches, administrators, spectators, and general supporters of sport for decades to come.  

How have you changed as a coach over your career?

I’ve definitely calmed down or mellowed out over the years. Learning to trust athletes more and empowering them to be creative while not worrying about being perfect has made me a better coach and allowed me to enjoy sport more as well. 

What have you learned during the pandemic that can help you grow as a coach?

Zoom during the pandemic has technology can assist in team communication. However, I think the importance of a positive atmosphere and solid team culture has become one of the most critical points for success. This time has seen many of those norms break down when sport was absent and thus can’t be taken for granted. 

What would you say to someone who is considering getting into coaching?

Get involved if you can. Sometimes, the challenge of organizing a whole team can feel overwhelming, so you could start small and fill a minor or part time role. Finding enough help is very difficult, and it is so appreciated when someone gives their time and effort to help kids in sport. It can also be extremely rewarding. Having a former athlete you haven’t seen for years say hello in the grocery store can make your week.   

What are your goals as you move forward in your coaching career?

My major goal would be to try and continue having a positive impact on people in sport. I really enjoy the challenges provided in the various levels I’m involved in. While I’m probably not going to ascend much higher than where I’m currently coaching, the joy I feel upon watching kids progress is more than enough to keep me energized and coming back to the sidelines every season.   


Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.

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Dalton Finkbeiner

Communications and Marketing Coordinator - Rugby Ontario

    647-560-4790 x 1006


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