Academy Director Johannes Gericke joins USA Rugby
Rugby ATL Academy Director Johannes Gericke (aka “Neets”) has accepted a position with USA Rugby as a set piece and defense coach for their pathway teams. Academy Manager Emil Walton will take on more responsibility in his role, while Neets will continue to be involved with Rugby ATL on specific initiatives.
Neets joined Rugby ATL as a player in 2019 and played with the club through 2021. He took up the Academy Director role upon his retirement in 2021. Following the Academy match on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Silverbacks Park, there will be a presentation expressing Rugby ATL’s gratitude and thanks to Neets at 3:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be hard putting 4 years in a small quote…Rugby ATL allowed me the opportunity to play professional rugby with old and new friends,” Neets said. “I mean, Kurt Coleman, Ryan Nel & I played rugby together in 2009. 12 years later we played in the 2021 MLR final together. On the other side of the white lines, it has been amazing seeing the academy boys and men grow. It has truly been a challenging and most rewarding experience of my life. I thank everyone here in Atlanta that pushed me to be the coach and person I am today. I am excited to see what Rugby ATL will do on and off the field this year.”
“Neets is an incredible coach and academy director,” head coach Steve Brett said. “USA Rugby have made a great decision bringing him on board to coach the USA rugby pathways. His ability to create a strong bond with a player is one of his strengths. We wish Neets all the best on his next adventure and only wish for a successful journey in his role.”
“We are very excited for Neets and this new challenge he is embarking on,” assistant coach Blake Bradford said. “Our first core value is People Development and I’ve had the privilege of playing a small role in the development of Neetsie first as a player and then as a coach. Neets has been massive for Rugby ATL over the last year in growing our academy both on and off the field. We would like to say a massive thank you for all he has done and wish him all the best on his new journey.”
Rugby ATL Academy’s core purpose is to grow the game of rugby in the Southeast United States by providing playing opportunities at all age grades, developing coaching pathways, which elevate the standard of rugby across the region with the end goal of producing future MLR players and future Eagles.