Emil Signes, following 9 ½ years as Head Coach to Princeton Women, is now assisting Head Coach Chris Ryan as Coaching Consultant. Emil began coaching rugby in August 1974, with the newly formed Bethlehem Hooligans RFC.
In that period he has coached club, college and high school rugby, men and women, boys and girls, 15s and 7s. He has coached at the LAU (local area union), territorial, and international levels.
Between 7s and 15s, men and women, club and All-Star, his teams have won 14 national championships.
He has coached the US national women’s team in both 15s and 7s and the US national men’s 7s team. The US men won the Hong Kong Plate Championship and made the Cup round once; the US women were 4-time runners-up to New Zealand at the Hong Kong Sevens. In addition he has coached or consulted for national teams from other countries.
He founded Atlantis US Sevens Rugby in 1986. Between 1986 and mid-2014 Atlantis – men, women, boys, girls – has fielded 206 squads at 145 tournaments in 31 different countries. In their spring 2014 efforts, Atlantis Women won the Madrid Sevens (Spain) and the Atlantis High School Boys won the Surfside Sevens (NJ).
He has championed, helped to inaugurate, and developed, international women’s sevens. Through these efforts he has been credited with being an integral part of setting the stage for rugby’s entry into the Olympics.
Emil has coached more than 25 players that became US national level coaches as well as several that became coaches of other national teams.
Besides his coaching achievements, Emil has been US Men’s National Sevens Team Manager and was a member of the USA Rugby Board of Directors. He was the chair of a newly formed USA Rugby Sevens Committee from 1988 until approximately 1995.
For 9 ½ years, from 2004 until 2013, Emil was Head Coach of the Princeton Women’s team. The team was Ivy Champions in 2005 and 2013, in the US Round of 16 five times, in the Final Four twice, and made it all the way to the USA Rugby national final in 2004.
Emil coached Princeton Women Sevens from its first sevens venture in 2011 through 2013. They were 3rd in the USA in 2011 and 2012 and won the Ivy League championship in 2012 and 2013.
Since 2013, Emil has assisted current Princeton Head Coach Chris Ryan as Coaching Consultant for the women’s team.
Alex Goff published a Rugby Magazine article back in October 2009, “Why Should we Thank This Man for Rugby Getting in the Olympics,” in which he stated “Rugby would not be an Olympic sport without the women, and women would not have an international 7s presence were it not for one man – Emil Signes.”
A path, in fact, can be traced from Emil Signes’ Atlantis men’s trip to the 1995 Dubai Sevens, to the Hong Kong Women’s Club Sevens in 1996 to the Hong Kong International Women’s Sevens in 1997 to a 1999 Hong Kong Sevens with the women final integrated with the men’s event, to the first Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 to the IOC’s selection of rugby as an Olympic Sport.
Emil’s favorite accomplishment has been enhancing the mutual appreciation of men and women rugby players for the other’s dedication, skills, achievements, and love of the game. He helped organize the first Atlantis women’s tour – to Spain in 1992 – to coincide with the US Men’s National Sevens Team participation in the same tournament; he went as both US manager and the Atlantis women’s coach.
As a small token of appreciation, Princeton Women’s Rugby began hosting the Emperor 7s Tournament, named for Emil’s rugby nickname. The first annual tournament was held on March 31st, 2018, in which 10 collegiate 7s teams competed. Princeton Women’s Rugby capped the momentous day by bringing home the championship.