In addition to the international pathway being revamped for women’s rugby in the United States so too is the Talent Identification process. More domestic competitions are set to be reviewed by USA Rugby staff, who will in turn promote athletes into the newly-designed pathway. The increased scouting is combined with USA Rugby Academy Camps, Eagle Recruitment Festivals, and the growing Olympic Development Academy program to create the most comprehensive approach to selections ever for the women’s game.
“Our goal is to broaden the number of selection opportunities for athletes,” USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby said. “Athletes physically mature at different ages – we have multiple “training ages” at different levels – so it makes sense to give both current rugby players and crossover athletes multiple entry points into the pathway.”
Along with the pathway change, USA Rugby is combining the Women’s Eagle along with the College and Junior All-American Talent Identification process into one program. As a result, every competition will help to identify players for the AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans, AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans, and Women’s Eagles. Scouting will also be done for talent regardless of sevens or 15s.
“All venues will be reviewed for talent that fits the game of rugby,” Magleby said. “As players come up and through the pathway they may end up as a sevens player, a 15s player, or both, but at the start we are scouting them as athletes and rugby players.”
Once identified, players will be promoted to a women’s National All-Star Competition (NASC) event. The NASC will be a primary selection tool for the pathway and senior international sevens and 15s players. However, outstanding players could potentially jump straight to a national team event depending on timing.
“NASC events will help place identified athletes into the highest level of competition that they are capable of playing at the time,” USA Rugby Women’s National Team Pathway Manager Tam Breckenridge said. “The year after the Rugby World Cup is an exciting time because there is a lot of opportunity for players to step up for the next cycle and we are looking to identify players that can compete as quickly as the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 World Cup, as well as beyond.
“Those that are not recognized at a particular event, or were not selected this time, have the opportunity to grow through a USA Rugby Academy or the Olympic Development Academy program and a chance to be selected in the future.”
Players that cannot attend a selection venue have the ability to apply online to be considered. Staff will review the application before deciding to extend an NASC event invitation.
“All of these opportunities are meant to create the broadest entry point possible into the pathway,” Magleby said. “We are establishing an explicit women’s player pathway that gives every athlete an opportunity and increases the velocity of which players become Eagles.”
Once players have been selected to an NASC event, they will have the chance to compete for selection to a USA Rugby representative side.
2015 June NASC Selection Venues:
- High School All-Americans will serve as a pathway to the NASC event.
Eagle Recruitment Festivals:
- Atlanta, Ga. – March 13
- Ann Arbor, Mich. — April 19 (info to come)
- Portland/Seattle – May 2 or 3 (info to come)
- New York
- Northern California
Competitions to be scouted by USA Rugby staff in 2015 include:
- Collegiate 15s Playoffs – April 24-26
- Collegiate 15s National Championships – May 9
- High School National Invitational Tournament – May 15-16
- College 7s National Championship – May 23-24
- Club 15s Playoffs – May 30-31
- Club 15s Championships – June 13-14
- Club 7s Championships – Aug. 8-9
- Elite City Sevens – TBA
- Women’s Premier League Finals – TBA
- Collegiate 15s Fall Regionals – TBA
- Collegiate 15s Fall Championship – TBA
There will be eight USA Rugby Academy sessions that will lead to the June NASC:
- Boston, Mass. (Feb. 21-22)
- Charlotte, N.C. (March 1)
- San Diego, Calif. (March 8)
- College Park, Md. (March 14-15)
- Glendale, Colo. (March 21-22)
- Parsippany, N.J. (March 28-29)
- Clermont, Fla. (May 9-10)
- Minneapolis, Minn. (May 9-10)
- Providence, R.I. (June 6-7)
- Denver, Colo. (June 23-27)
Olympic Development Academies supporting the women’s game are slated to open in the coming months in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Diego, in addition to the recently-established American Rugby Pro Training Center in Little Rock, Ark., and the Serevi Institute in Seattle.