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Former Dartmouth assistant coach and current All-American assistant James Willocks will succeed Blake Burdette as the head coach at Penn State. After leading the Nittany Lions to an undefeated fall campaign, Burdette was let go for unstated reasons. The program has undergone several coaching changes over the last few years, as Willocks will be the fourth man to lead the program in that time.
Willocks takes over at PSU having spent four years at Dartmouth, not only assisting with the rugby program, but also serving on the football team's strength and conditioning staff. A native Kiwi, Willocks cut his teeth playing in New Zealand, also interning with the Otago ITM Cup team.
“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 in a release. “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.”
On the docket for Willocks' Lions this spring will be the Varsity Cup and the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.