Mark Griffin is a pioneer in the field of sports-themed youth development with a specific passion for using rugby as a vehicle for social change. As a past USA National Rugby Team player Mark now holds two professional national leadership positions in youth sports: one as the President of Play Rugby USA; the other as the National Youth and High School Director for USA Rugby – the National Governing Body for Rugby in America. Together the two organizations support rugby programming for over nearly 200,000 young people nation-wide. Mark is also an active member and proud representative of Up2Us a national coalition of approximately 500 sports-themed youth development organizations, representing over 5 million youth.
Mark founded Play Rugby USA in June 2003 as a wellness and prevention resource for America’s urban youth with a philosophy of “developing youth through rugby.” As President Mark has combined his passion for youth development and entrepreneurship with an intrinsic ability to establish buy-in with key stakeholders at multiple levels. The creation of strategic and sustainable partnerships has thus become a core component of Play Rugby USA’s success, which combined with a winning team of outstanding professionals, passionate coaching staff and dedicated volunteers this has placed the program at the forefront of youth development in its key markets served.
Mark’s achievements with Play Rugby were recognized in 2007 by the National Council of Youth Sports who awarded Mark the Hershey’s STRIVE award as National Administrator of the Year for pioneering such an innovative and replicable youth development program.
Prior to devoting his attention to working full time on youth development, Mark had 9 years of corporate banking experience with The Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.
Hailing from Rutland in England, Mark was educated at Stamford School and holds an honors degree in Business, Anthropology and Geography from Durham University. On the rugby field Mark was MVP at Durham and since arriving in America in 1999 played 9 times for the USA National Rugby Team, over 10 years starting for Super League powerhouse Old Blue RFC (NY) including 3 years captaining both Old Blue and the North East All Star Team to two of their most successful seasons in recent history. Mark is Certified by the IRB (International Rugby Board) as a Coach Educator and a member of USA Rugby’s National Congress and National Youth Committees.