Harrogate’s Ashville College has made a key signing with the appointment of a former New Zealand international as its first Head of Rugby.
In addition to taking up his coaching position, Gary Mercer – who during a long and illustrious career has played for Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves as well as helping coach the Scotland U20 squad – will become a resident tutor in one of Ashville’s boarding houses.
He is the second big name to join the independent school’s coaching staff this year with the first being former American professional basketball player Voise Winters, who spent a season playing with the Philadelphia 76ers and his rookie year in the NBA alongside Michael Jordan.
Gary, who won 21 international caps playing rugby league for the New Zealand Kiwis, has spent the majority of his 25-year career playing and coaching league and union in Great Britain. He played for his country against Australia in the 1988 Rugby League World Cup and, in the same year, playing for The Rest of the World against Australia.
He made 83 appearances for the Warrington Wolves and 164 appearances for the Leeds Rhinos, retiring in 2001 to take up coaching.
Following successful spells at Yorkshire Carnegie and Strathclyde University, Gary joined Biggar RFC as a National 2 head coach.
During his time with Scottish Rugby he worked closely with the Scottish Institute of Sport. His role as Regional Academy Coach was to identify talent, recruit and nurture using the expertise of institute staff based around strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, sports psychology, nutrition and performance lifestyle
Ashville College headmaster Richard Marshall said:
Rugby has been an integral part of school life since day one and having Gary Mercer join as Head of Rugby will add a new dimension to the coaching, alongside our existing talented and committed Rugby coaches.
His appointment reaffirms our commitment to the sport, which has also been further enhanced by us becoming a partner of Harrogate Rugby Club, and I have no doubt Gary’s expertise and passion will take Ashville to new heights in competitive Rugby whilst also allowing a wider group of pupils to share his love for the sport.
Gary Mercer said:
I’m very much looking forward to taking on the new role of Ashville’s Head of Rugby. It has superb facilities, dedicated sports teachers, and, from what I’ve heard, some really great young players.