The 2011 programme, run in partnership with the South African Rugby Union, Western Province and Stellenbosch University, featured 26 men and women from 17 IRB member Unions.
The coaching course was run by current Georgia head coach Richie Dixon and Western Province Institute coach Steph Nel, who previously coached Connacht, Ireland 'A' and Ballymena.
The match officiating course by IRB referee assessor Tappe Henning and IRB referee development consultant Bernd Gabbei, while IRFU fitness education manager Des Ryan ran the strength & conditioning course.
Key note speakers included Brendan Venter (trends in modern rugby), Henning (the playing charter), Alistair Coetzee (managing pressure), Rassie Erasmus (performance indicators and momentum) and Craig White (the principles of successful coaching).
Throughout the week professional coaches and referees assisted with the running of specific workshops, with SARU kicking coach and former Springbok Louis Koen taking a session on developing the kicking game and South Africa Sevens coach Paul Treu on lessons to be learnt from Sevens.
"The Talent Optimisation Programme is a course designed to nurture identified talent and prepare coaches and referees for the unique pressures and specifics of the elite rugby environment," said IRB medical and training manager Mark Harrington.
"The course is aimed at IRB member Unions who may not have specific elite development pathways in place.
"However, all IRB member Unions can nominate talented coaches or referees who they feel will benefit from this unique environment.
"The feedback that we have received was extremely positive and from an IRB perspective it is great to know that coaches and referees from the likes of Japan, Portugal, Romania, Brazil and Belgium will return to their Unions and continue to progress their career pathways."
For the participants, the course provided a golden opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business and immediately put their learnings into practice in the challenging environment of the Stellenbosch University Rugby programmes.
"Working alongside coaches, referees and conditioning coaches was invaluable. They have all achieved considerable success in their careers and to tap into their knowledge was an incredible experience," added Suzanne Weidemann, who is coach of the German Women's Sevens team.
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