FIRSTPOINT USA, the world’s leading international sports scholarship agency, is delighted to announce the appointment of former Scotland Rugby captain John Barclay as its new Director of Rugby.
Barclay, who was capped 76 times by his country and led Scotland to Calcutta Cup glory over England in 2018, will begin his new role at the start of October where he will head up the company’s programme of rugby activities as they aim to build on the rapid growth of the sport in the States.
The former Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets and Edinburgh back row forward retired from competitive rugby in 2020, but has since become a high-profile media pundit, working with the BBC on their Six Nations coverage, BT Sport’s Champions Cup broadcasts as well as the United Rugby Championship with Premier Sports.
With the Men’s and Women’s Rugby Union World Cups being hosted by the United States in 2031 and 2033 respectively, the game’s rise across the pond is accelerating quickly no more so than across the country’s leading universities, with more than 100 varsity rugby programs now established. Coupled with the opportunities to forge a professional career in the game Stateside via the recently launched MLR (Major League Rugby), it’s an exciting time to be considering the USA as a route for young rugby players from established rugby territories.
“Playing rugby as a student-athlete in the States is certainly something I would have considered myself had there been opportunities at the time, so I’m looking forward to linking schools, clubs and other organisations to FirstPoint USA to educate them and make them more aware of the opportunities that now exist,” said John, who was a pupil at Dollar Academy before embarking on his professional career.
“As with any sport that the USA focuses on, they go for it in a major way and with the World Cups coming up in the next decade as well as the expansion of MLR rugby, the investment in the sport is significant. The campus sport facilities out there are incredible and the opportunity to continue playing at a high level, combined with a world-class education and professional support system around you, are important things to consider when deciding on the next step of your academic and playing journey.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started and channelling my expertise and relationships from my 16 years’ experience in a professional rugby environment into FirstPoint USA, while supporting colleagues in our other key sports, such as golf, tennis, athletics and swimming, to grow the business.”
Andrew Kean, founder and CEO of FirstPoint USA, welcomed John’s appointment:
“We are thrilled to bring John onto the team and his experience, network and profile within rugby and the wider sports industry, will be a great asset to the business. The opportunities for young players heading to the States are increasing all the time, and we’ve already had many clients enjoying great success out there, whether going on to play in the MLR or staying in the States and being recruited into fantastic jobs.
“Part of John’s role will be to raise awareness of the scholarship opportunities that exist and working with new and existing rugby partners to support those young athletes who want to explore those opportunities. We are building a great team across different sports, and we’re delighted that John will be a part of that.”
To find out more about playing and studying in the USA, visit firstpointus.com/rugby.