TOOWOOMBA, Queensland – Head Coach Gavin Hickie has selected his first starting XV of the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans Tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog, with Central Washington University’s internationally-capped Aladdin Schirmer captaining the side against a Darling Downs Select Side Saturday.
The sides have agreed to use an extended bench and unlimited substitutions in the exhibition match, set for Downs’ Gold Park at 6 p.m. local time outside of Brisbane. Streaming information for the match is unavailable at this time, but updates will be announced on Twitter by USA Rugby’s All-American handle (@aarugby).
Following a flight delay and apparent two-day trip to Australia, the MCAAs arrived in Brisbane Tuesday, Aug. 2, before getting to work on the training field. Though the 29 players in camp hail from more than 15 schools and clubs, they came together rather quickly with the common goal.
“The most positive aspect of tour so far is how quickly the players have gelled and how tight this squad seems to be,” Hickie said. “We have been training two-a-days since we got here with virtually no down time, yet all the players have bought in and are working extremely hard. Their work ethic and attitude has been fantastic.
“This group of players have so far been a joy to work with. The coaching staff are delighted with their team spirit.”
Schirmer first broke onto the international stage in the summer of 2014, jumping from the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Sevens team to the senior developmental Falcons side at Serevi Rugbytown Sevens. From there, the CWU Wildcat made a World Rugby Sevens Series debut and won his first two caps for the XVs Eagles in the Americas Rugby Championship. As captain for the MCAA Tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog, Schirmer has been tasked with bringing that experience to the squad.
“Aladdin was named captain as he has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities from the start of tour,” Hickie said. “Obviously as an Eagle, Aladdin is a senior member of our tour. We want to facilitate him getting back into the Eagles squad and we expect him to be a standout on the pitch to match his leadership off the pitch.
“The challenge of performing and leading this team has been laid out to Aladdin and he has responded exceptionally well. He has demonstrated maturity and confidence as the squad leader.”
Three forwards in the starting XV – Malon Al-Jiboori, Mason Pedersen, and Chance Wenglewski – were with the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans at the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Zimbabwe earlier this year, linking the men’s national team pathway.
The half-back combination of University of California, Berkeley’s, Nick Boyer and Conor Kearns will run an attacking platform based off of the Eagles’ game plan instituted by Head Coach John Mitchell. With capped Eagle Deion Mikesell on one wing and a sevens pool player in Tua Laei in the full back position, the MCAAs are set to play a free-flowing game against Darling Downs Select Side.
“We have been working hard on a simplified Eagles play book,” Hickie said. “We want all our guys to make the next step to the Selects and Eagles. By the time they get to that next level they should be familiar with the Eagles’ plays.
“This has been an important focus for us. Our attack and defense shape, along with ensuring we win possession from the set piece, has been our main focus.”
The match at Gold Park will kick off at 6 p.m. local time in Toowoomba, with no live stream information available at this time. Match updates will be provided on Twitter via @aarugby, with a match recap to follow on USARugby.org.
AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans | v. Darling Downs Select Side
1. Chance Wenglewski
2. Chad Gough
3. Mason Pedersen
4. Malon Al-Jiboori
5. Matt Jensen
6. Wes Hartmann
7. Aladdin Schirmer (C)
8. Vili Helu
9. Nick Boyer
10. Conor Kearns
11. Deion Mikesell
12. Cody Melphy
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Vetekina Malafu
15. Tua Laei
Darling Downs Select Side | v. AIG MCAAs
1. Jack Cook
2. Sam Hogarth
3. Brett Corish
4. Sonny Power (C)
5. Sam Tweedy
6. Lachlan Tulloch
7. John Vinson
8. Tom Simpson
9. Will Gilbert
10. Andrew Turner
11. Zac Boland
12. Harry Hawker
13. Cameron Griffin
14. Nick Poole
15. Mic Jamieson
Darling Downs Select Side | Reserves
16. Brett Huth
17. Baci Wilson
18. Matt Roberts
19. Robert Patterson
20. Luke Johnston
21. John Moloney
22. Steve McVeigh
23. Eric Donaldson
24. Paul Maguire
25. Dan Ostwald
AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans | Tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog
v. Darling Downs Select Side – Saturday, Aug. 6 @ 4 a.m. ET
v. Brothers Rugby Football Club – Wednesday, Aug. 10 @ 4 a.m. ET
v. Queensland Premier Barbarians – Saturday, Aug. 13 @ 5:30 a.m. ET