The University of Washington had a tough year in the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference this past season. A late start, cancellations and a rigorous schedule saw the Huskies end with a 3-6 record, including a bitter loss to rivals Washington State.
Now, head coach Brian Schoener is making some changes to the program, and while not all the details are public yet, we do know one thing that will change: the coaching. Schoener and the Huskies will add on Kevin Swiryn as their backs coach to complement forwards and scrum Coach Joe Rissone.
“One of the areas we have kind of struggled with for years is our backline play and Kevin fits in perfectly for that spot,” Schoener said. “Kevin’s got a lot of experience with playing all three backline positions at the highest level and that will definitely be a boost. Moreover, I really liked his coaching style and positive outlook towards making the players and the program as whole better.”
Swiryn, like both Schoener and Rissone, has been capped by the USA. He has been playing professionally for Agen in the French Top 14, but asked for a release from his contract and retired due to persistent injuries.
“We’d heard the talk of his retirement and really wanted to strike while the iron was hot,” Schoener added. “We all have the same outlook as coaches and have very good ideas on how to take UW rugby to the next level.”
“[I am] just really excited to be a part of something special at UW,” Swiryn told RUGBYMag.com. “Rugby is growing rapidly in the Northwest and I just want to bring some excitement and passion to the game that these college kids can feed off.”
A native of San Jose, Calif., Swiryn got involved in rugby at college when the football program got cut at St. Mary’s. He excelled immediately for the Gaels as a flanker, but in his third season moved to the backline.
In 2008, he captained the All-American team that toured New Zealand. He was selected for the USA 7s team, helping them qualify for the 7s World Cup and he soon became a star for the team, becoming captain in 2010. Swiryn was first capped by the 15s team in the summer of 2009, earning his first cap against Ireland and getting 12 more – all on the wing rather than his preferred position of outside center.
Upon graduating Cum Laude from St. Mary’s with a degree in kinesiology, Swiryn went onto play professionally for the Sporting Union Agen.