Age-Grade Summer Programs, Pathways Take Shape
BOULDER, Colo. – As the domestic rugby season is in its final stages, USA Rugby’s All-American and Under-20 National Team programs are gearing up for a busy summer of representative rugby.
USA Rugby announced in the fall that the Collegiate All-Americans, Under-20 National Team, and High School All-Americans, would pursue a seasonal calendar, which would focus on assemblies in the breaks of the academic and domestic sporting and rugby calendar. This new focus emphasizes partnering with domestic teams on the development of elite players, as well as avoiding interfering with young players’ academic requirements.
The new schedule puts an emphasis on the summer calendar, following a natural progression to the domestic competitions post season. The purpose of the All-American program is to identify and develop the next generation of future U.S. Senior Eagle XV’s and Sevens, including potential future Olympians. USA Rugby has been pursuing a competition window that provides the best opportunity for elite players to be available and to achieve that goal.
The Collegiate All-Americans will again be coached by former Eagle and Collegiate All-American Alex Magleby from Dartmouth University. Coach Magleby will be assisted by former Eagles Luke Gross in the forwards and former Eagle and All-American Kimball Kjar from BYU in the backs. The All-Americans will be managed by UC Santa Barbara’s Kevin Battle, who brings experience from the NA4’s and USA Sevens National Team as a coach and manager.
The All-Americans are currently planning a tour to London in August where they will play three matches against a combination of National Division 1 and Premiership Development/Academy Sides.
Coach Magleby notes that this will be a great opportunity to take the next generation of Eagles on a challenging tour to a home nation to test and develop them as players.
“As in years past, we will endeavor to expose our best collegiate players to the pressures of international competition,” Magleby said. “One of the All-American program’s KPIs is to not only find future Eagles in each year’s group, but to help accelerate their development from collegiate rugby-athlete to senior Eagle. Playing against professional academies in the UK offers that opportunity.”
The All-Americans will be selected based on performance throughout the domestic collegiate season and playoffs, as well as from the National All-Star Collegiate Championships, which all aspiring elite players are encouraged to attend.
The All-Americans will be selected from players who attend a domestic American University and compete for an American University Team shortly after the Collegiate National All-Star Championship. Criteria to be selected as an All-American is separate from criteria to be selected for the All American Touring/Assembly Side. The touring team that assembles in the summer will be selected from the pool of named All-Americans, but may also include players eligible to play for America, who are studying at Universities domestically or abroad, but are not competing for an American University Team. The All-American team and touring side will be selected by the All-American staff and selectors from representative from each Territorial Union below.
Pacific: Blake Burdette firstname.lastname@example.org
So Cal: Kevin Battle Kevin.Battle@essr.ucsb.edu
West: Bill Sexton email@example.com
Mid West: Sean O’Leary firstname.lastname@example.org
South: Curt Huckaby email@example.com
North East: Mike Dimantopoulos firstname.lastname@example.org
MARFU: Don Farrell email@example.com
The U-20s (players born in 1990 and 1991) will finish the remainder of their 2010 cycle by competing in the Collegiate National All-Star Championship as the eighth team and will be replacing the Combined Services Team. Over the previous few seasons, the Combined Services has struggled to field a competitive side in the tournament for multiple reasons, primarily being players were unable to attend due to military commitment and players choosing to play for their Territorial Union within which they competed throughout the collegiate domestic season.
For the U-20s, this is an opportunity for many of the best college freshman in the country to play against older elite opponents and provides a natural progression/pathway to the Collegiate All-Americans.
“Including the U-20s in the National All-Star Championships creates another positive connection between our age-grade teams. It pits our best 19-20 year olds against the wider pool of our best emerging junior and senior college athletes. Age-grade U-20 National Team players, will then “graduate” to their Territorial side in the coming year, helping to improve the level of play in the TU rep sides as well,” Magleby said. “The U-20s will be competitive, and it gives selectors, TU coaches, and national team coaches the chance to compare the pool of our best age-grade / collegiate-age players on a relatively level field.”
Following two matches at the Collegiate National All-Star Championship, the U20’s will remain in Denver for a third match against a young touring the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC). UWIC are the 2009 British University Champions and will offer the U20’s a very tough challenge.
“Playing UWIC will be a big challenge to the team and players,” said U-20 Head Coach Ray Lehner, “and we look forward to having a long assembly with that big test at the end.”
Selection for the final U-20 Assembly will based off the previous U-20 New Years camp, the matches vs. New Zealand University, as well as performance throughout the collegiate, high school and U-19 club season and playoffs.
6/10: Match vs. North East Collegiate All Stars (Glendale)
6/12 Match vs. TBD (Glendale)
6/18: Match vs. UWIC (TBD @ 12:30 pm)
High School All-Americans:
The High School All-Americans (2010 high school seniors and younger) will have their final assembly for the 2010 team with a tour to Toronto, Canada. The students will travel to Toronto in late June to play a Toronto U-20 club team in a scrimmage, and will then play the Ontario-18s in two matches.
Head Coach Scott Lawrence looks forward to the time together, saying, “As a staff we’re excited to have the opportunity to bring the team on a tour that has the benefit of three very challenging games. This assembly will provide us a real opportunity to measure our objectives of identification and improvement against quality Canadian sides in a short period of time and our players to continue to experience a spirited rivalry between ourselves and Canada.”
The Ontario U-18’s feature many members of the 2010 and 2009 Canada U-17 team and were winners of the Canadian U-18 provincial championship in 2009. Coach Lawrence anticipates the fixtures to be a big challenge.
“Given the Ontario U-18s defeat of the BC U-18s and the age gap of playing a U-20 side, we know that the players will have quality competition to benchmark themselves against,” Lawrence said. “My staff and I look forward to coaching a quality group of young men through their last High School All-American assembly and watching them progress into the U-20s. There are some graduating seniors in this group that we expect great things from.”
Selection for the tour will be based on performance at previous High School All-American camps, as well as performance and recommendations from the High School domestic season and the High School and U-19 National Championships.
Summer Development Camp for 2011 Cycle
In the latter portion of the summer, the 2011 cycle for both the High School All-Americans and U20s will begin with a development camp.
For the U20s that will mean players born in 1991 and 1992, and for the High School All-Americans this will include incoming High School Seniors and younger players. The anticipated dates and venue for this camp are July 28-Aug 2 at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.
The camp will include skill development, specialist coaching, strength and conditioning testing, sports science nutrition, psychology seminars and will conclude with a scrimmage.
All-American program director Matt Sherman is excited at seeing many of the best young prospects come together in one venue.
“Bringing in a larger group of players allows us to cast a wide net, while bringing in both teams gives us an opportunity to bring in specialist coaches and resources that can work with both squads. Having the two teams together also helps to solidify the pathway between the two teams,” Sherman said.
The next anticipated camps for both the 2011 teams and players selected to move forward from the development camp, will likely include an assembly over the New Year’s holiday.
Development Camp Selection
There are numerous pathways for selection to the development camp. Players will be selected based off of performance at previous All-American and U-20 National Team Camps, the High School and U-19 Club National Championships, and from the following U-19 and U-17 Regional All-Star Championships.
Team selectors will attend the Seven Regional All-Star Tournaments listed below. All aspiring elite players are encouraged to attend. The tournaments follow a 2010 based U-19 and U-17 format (U-19: players born in 1991 and 1992; U-17: players born in 1993 or after). The tournaments are spread throughout the country and provide a wide geographic spread for Local Area Union and State Based Rugby Organizations to supply Regional All-Star Teams to compete.
Rugby California Regional All-Star Tournament
June 5/6- 2010
Rocca Field, Treasure Island
San Francisco, CA
USA South All-Star Challenge
June 12/13, 2010
Mallard Creek Park
Midwest Challenge Cup Regional All-Star Tournament
June 12/13, 2010
Moose Rugby Grounds
Challenge Cup Age Grade All-Star Tournament
June 19/20, 2010
10th Annual Rocky Mountain Challenge Regional All-Star Tournament
June 19/20. 2010
Aurora Sports Park
Great Northwest All-Star Challenge
June 19/20, 2010
Gretchen Rhodes / Tory Doxey
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
New England Regional All Star Tournament (TBD)
June 19/20, 2010
Wachusett Regional High School
Christopher St. Onge