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Stephen Lewis: “Returning to Melrose is coming full circle…”


Joining the Co-Optimists’ coaching setup is Scottish expat Steve Lewis. Synonymous with the game of rugby in The USA, Steve is the current Director of Rugby Operations at Rugby New York in Major League Rugby, and has been awarded USA Rugby Coach of the Year twice. With a career as successful as his, he is lauded as one of the top coaches in America and we are delighted that he is bringing his wealth of experience to The Melrose Sevens as a Co-Optimist.


Having started his playing career at West of Scotland Football Club and the Glasgow district team, Steve emigrated to the United States and became player-coach in Vail, Colorado. His coaching career progressed rapidly, spanning every level of the American game - including clubs such as Denver Highlanders and Old Blue New York RFC. His ongoing successes saw him take charge of the USA Collegiate All-Americans (U-23), the Army West Point Women and the CT Bulldog 7's. Steve has also coached the national teams of Nigeria and Jamaica. The Scottish expat will be known to USA Sevens rugby fans as a regular analyst and commentator on shows such as Rugby Wrap-Up and ESPN.


Having played for West of Scotland and Glasgow, Steve is no stranger to The Greenyards, (nor the 1883 Centenary Cup) having competed in the Melrose Sevens during the 80s. The history and tradition of the Melrose Sevens is held very close to the native Glaswegian’s heart, and he still cherishes the 1984 Centenary Sevens programme – kept in pristine condition years later.


Speaking about The Co-Optimists’ revival, Steve has mentioned that he’s excited to be able to contribute to a proud Scottish brand that is the Co-Optimists. The Co-Ops have a rich history in the Scottish game, and the aims of the Club and Steve remain paramount: Reflect the roots and origins of The Co-Optimists within Scottish rugby, and provide exposure for some of the young, up-and-coming local talents.


Steve is committed to growing the game of sevens both locally and internationally, and as such, its universal appeal is growing exponentially. The intensity of the shortened halves and smaller squads mean that errors become magnified, and technique becomes critical. The perfect game isn’t necessarily about speed, power, or precision alone – perfection becomes a quick-thinking game of chess. Outsmarting the opposition in every facet of the game. Working out structures before anybody else, and planning the next move far in advance. It turns in to a brain game – and Steve Lewis has one of the best in the business.


On Coaching The Co-Optimists, Steve relishes the challenge of bringing together a team of talented individuals at short notice, joining together to create a common framework for success in a minimal time frame. One of Steve’s main strengths is player management. Generating a rapport with the squad members and adapting the structure to best suit the players available to him. The fact that he’s a two-time USA Rugby Coach of the Year with a proven record of success is testament these attributes.


Steve is looking forward to working alongside Melrose local, and previous Scotland Sevens captain, Scott Wight. Both are like-minded and have identical views regarding the resurgence of The Co-Optimists. Different generations of Scottish rugby combining to form The Co-Optimists Coaching Collective has many a Co-Op fan exuberant with anticipation for The Melrose Sevens come April.


For Steve – a Glasgow native and previous player of The Melrose Sevens – to return years later on the other side of the touch line, this is a homecoming of sorts – the first revolution of a full circle. A player-turned-coach plying his trade at the exact location where it all started is certainly something to cherish. The Co-Optimists are delighted to have Steve on board and we wish him all the success with The Co-Optimists, as well as with Rugby New York – and whatever the future may hold.


Good luck, coach.


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