Sunshine State prevalent in Women's Eagles Sevens squad for São Paulo Sevens

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The Women’s Eagles Sevens will continue their 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series campaign next month at São Paulo Sevens with two substitutes made to the squad that finished seventh in Dubai.

AIG Women’s Collegiate All-American Kristen Thomas of University of Central Florida will travel with the Eagles for the first time in her career. She joins fellow Floridian and WCAA Dana Meschisi, who will make her first appearance on the circuit this season.

“[Thomas has] good size, good speed, and she’s got a great attitude,” Suggitt said of his newest Eagle. “We’ve had her out here for about a half dozen camps already. We’ve just been monitoring her progress and were fortunate enough to get her out for the last half of her school year.

“She still has her classes that she’s going to take and she’s going to be able to finish off her degree, but that was the biggest concern for all of us – that she was able to do both. She’s been able to do that and we’re happy to have her out.”

Thomas and other prospective Eagles suited up in the BLK kit last week when the women’s sevens teams of Canada and Ireland trained at the Olympic Training Center. Two days of scrimmages put each squad to the test, with the second day featuring full, 20-minute matches one would play in a Cup Final.

“We were trying to get ready so the girls aren’t shocked with the energy systems and how fatigued you might get just from being in the Final,” Suggitt said. “Ireland and Canada are all over that, especially Canada; they’ve been in Finals and know what it’s like. That put us under immense pressure.

“We’re not consistent so with the change in personnel we needed to get that look and that feel to really see what it was like.”

The Eagles have only been in one Cup Final out of 10 total events since the Women’s Sevens Series began with the 2012-13 season. The Final was a home match for the Eagles at Houston 7s at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The inclusions of Meschisi and Thomas meant two players would not be traveling to Brazil, the home of the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games. The coaching staff revisited the team’s performance at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens and pinpointed one aspect of the game that could elevate the Eagles’ play.

“We looked at the speed of our team and sort of where we were going to go from there,” Suggitt said. “The main changes we made were based around speed and the speed of sevens.

“Everyone works pretty hard, but there are two tireless workers on our team and one’s Amelia [Villines] and the other is Lorrie [Clifford]. Dana’s been practicing really well and so has Kristen when she’s come in, and they’re both pretty quick.”

Lauren Doyle and Jessica Javelet will also bring pace to Suggitt’s roster, while Kelly Griffin will captain the squad in Brazil. Victoria Folayan, who leads the Eagles in scoring and sits fourth in the Series’ player points table with 35, has fully recovered from an injury sustained in Dubai and has been selected for the trip. Last year, the Eagles defeated the host at São Paulo Sevens – then the third leg of the Series after Atlanta 7s – to win the Bowl.

The Eagles are in Pool A with France, New Zealand, and Spain, and will kick off their scheduled matches against the Series leader Saturday, Feb. 7, at 9:06 a.m. ET. Each leg of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be free to view live on the World Rugby website. Live match updates will also be provided on Twitter by @USARugby.

Women’s Eagles Sevens | São Paulo Sevens
1. Kathryn Johnson
2. Kelly Griffin (C)
3. Megan Bonny
4. Hannah Lopez
5. Jessica Javelet
6. Lauren Doyle
7. Victoria Folayan
8. Alev Kelter
9. Joanne Fa’avesi
10. Dana Meschisi
11. Melissa Fowler
12. Kristen Thomas

Women’s Eagles Sevens | São Paulo Sevens
v. New Zealand – Saturday, Feb. 7 – 9:06 a.m. ET
v. France – Saturday, Feb. 7 – 11:50 a.m. ET
v. Spain – Saturday, Feb. 7 – 2:34 p.m. ET

Cutrell, Kuxmann awarded Shanagher Morrison Scholarships

BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced Thursday the two recipients of the Shanagher Morrison Scholarship for 2015. The scholarship, named after two of USA Rugby’s most storied referees, will send Nick Cutrell and Cody Kuxmann to the Maties Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

It is the belief of Maties Academy that “the development of a good referee can only be achieved through a holistic approach – having enough practical experience as well as access to high performance training facilities.” Maties Academy offers access to “26 hostel games per week, WP League and school games on weekends, as well as to the University’s Gymnasium, Vision lab, and a curriculum developed specifically for referees.”

“Having had multiple referees train at Maties, we believe that this is a great opportunity for Cutrell and Kuxmann to hone their skills among the world’s best,” said USA Rugby Referee Manager Brittany Jacobs. “We look forward to supporting their referee development abroad and anticipate great things for each of the scholarship recipients upon their return to the States.”

Cutrell, 22, began refereeing during his college’s off-season as a way to better understand the intricacies of rugby law. For his first two years as a referee, he specifically refereed high school matches.

“Refereeing was a way of giving back to the rugby community as well as aid my progression as a player,” says Cutrell. “This past year I have refereed one high school state championship, one high school all-star tournament final, and a handfull of collegiate and Division II men’s rugby games.”

Kuxmann, 23, began officiating in 2008 at the young age of 16. His abilities were noticed quickly and he moved from officiating high school matches to officiating men’s college and club matches within his first year. Kuxmann continued his officiating career during his time at university in England, where he had the opportunity to work with the London Referee Society. Now back in the U.S., Kuxmann is an incredibly active referee in Wisconsin.

“This experience will allow me to further my understanding and experience of the game,” Kuxmann said. “I intend to bring back this knowledge and use it to the best of my ability.”

The Shanagher Morrison Scholarship is made possible by the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund, which raises the bar and creates international learning opportunities for up-and-coming referees through generous contributions to USA Rugby Trust. If you would like to support this worthwhile program, please visit the USA Rugby Trust page.

Men's Eagles Forwards Camp set for Olympic Training Center

BOULDER, Colo. – Head Coach Mike Tolkin and the Men’s Eagles coaching staff will work with 20 Rugby World Cup hopefuls at the United States Olympic Committee Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., next week.

Capped Eagles John Cullen, Olive Kilifi, John Quill, Louis Stanfill, Kyle Sumsion, Ben Tarr, Phil Thiel, Matt Trouville, and Nick Wallace will help integrate newcomers to the national team setup at the Forwards Camp Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.

“This is the first time we’ve done this, and from my recollection, it’s the first time that it’s been done with the Eagles for at least 10 years,” Tolkin said. “This is an area that we want to continue to strengthen.”

Bringing a wealth of knowledge on the subject is Forwards Coach Justin Fitzpatrick, who joined Tolkin’s staff in the fall of 2013. Holder of 26 caps for Ireland, including each of Ireland’s matches in Rugby World Cup 1999, Fitzpatrick played prop professionally for 18 years for London Irish, Ulster Rugby, and Castres Olympique.

“Generally speaking, we’re coming in [to an assembly] and building towards a test match, so we have to taper the work loads because we’ve got a performance element at the end,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is an opportunity for us to look at the domestic depth pool in terms of forwards and put them through a very rigorous scrummaging- and lineout-specific weekend where there is no match to hold us back in any of that training.

“We can really push the envelope and hopefully expand the learning curve with that.”

“We can put in some quality time just on set piece that we don’t often have available to us in camps and assemblies,” Tolkin said. “The scrum is an area that we want improvement in, so we feel that this is a really good investment of time and resources.”

In total, five flanker-specific athletes, three hookers, six props, and three second row-specific players will attend the skills camp. Ben Landry, Mike Lawrenson, and Angus MacLellan were each selected for the USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans’ New England Tour last summer, which propelled MacLellan to a roster spot with the Eagles at the 2014 Americas Rugby Championship and November Tour.

“It gives us a great opportunity to look at who’s currently in the domestic depth chart that’s been capped, that has been on a senior tour, but also what’s around the corner,” Fitzpatrick said. “We get to have a look at them and compare like with like over the course of the weekend. Those guys that have been capped to the younger guys; we can see where they are at these two technical areas and see whether they’re ready for the jump up or to give them appropriate feedback so they can go back into their programs so the next time they’re given the opportunity they can push themselves on a little further.”

Cullen, Tarr, and Trouville were among a number of Eagles who earned playing time during the most recent November Tour with multiple overseas-based professionals unavailable.

Titi Lamositele, the youngest capped Eagle, is unavailable for selection due to injury, but should begin more rigorous training in late February.

The Forwards Camp is the first of three camps specifically aimed at domestic players, hailing from such clubs as Glendale Raptors, Santa Monica Rugby Club, and Seattle Saracens, to enhance their upcoming club seasons. A full, 35-player assembly is also scheduled for late February in Florida.

“It’s hard to say [what I’m looking forward to the most],” Tolkin said. “The most obvious thing would be the South American Tour and the games and seeing new faces play. We get to harden up these guys a little more while gaining valuable international playing time.

“But I’m also eager for the camps, too, where our goal is to address the individual skill set and work on our playing style, which we’re hoping to build on. I am really looking forward to taking the next step in developing the game plan, and sharpening it up a little more.”

The Eagles forwards will get the perfect opportunity to put next weekend’s lessons into action when Tolkin’s squad travels to South America in April for matches against Uruguay and Argentina Jaguars. The trip will be the first time the U.S. National Team has traveled to the Tucuman region of South America, which has produced several professional props for Argentina.

Men’s Eagles | Forwards Camp

Name Position Club
Chris Baumann Prop Santa Monica Rugby Club
Demecus Beach Prop Life
John Cullen Second Row Seattle Saracens
Zach Fenoglio Hooker Glendale Raptors
Alec Gletzer Flanker University of California
Olive Kilifi Prop Seattle Saracens
Ben Landry Second Row Seattle Saracens
Mike Lawrenson Flanker Palmer College
Angus MacLellan Prop Davenport University
Al McFarland No. 8 New York Athletic Club
Brodie Orth Second Row Kansas City Blues
Ben Pinkelman Flanker Denver Barbarians
John Quill Flanker Dolphin Rugby Football Club (Ireland)
Mike Shepherd Hooker Seattle Saracens
Louis Stanfill Flanker/Second Row Seattle Saracens
Kyle Sumsion Flanker Brigham Young University
Ben Tarr Prop Glendale Raptors
Phil Thiel Hooker Life
Matt Trouville Flanker/No. 8 Seattle Saracens
Nick Wallace Prop Glendale Raptors

Men’s Eagles | Forwards Camp Coaching Staff
Mike Tolkin – Head Coach
Justin Fitzpatrick – Forwards Coach
David Williams – Strength & Conditioning Coach
Chris O’Brien – Video Analyst
Zach Vyhnanek – Physiotherapist
Brian Finn – Physiotherapist
Tristan Lewis – Manager
Sean Lindersmith – Assistant Manager
Nick Kennedy – Line Out Consultant
Didier Retiere – Scrum Consultant

BHSAAs announced for 2015 Las Vegas Invitational

BOULDER, Colo. – The roster for the USA Rugby Boys High School All-American sides competing in the 2015 Las Vegas Invitational has been announced.

Twenty-eight players will convene for three days beginning Tuesday, Feb. 10, before the Serevi High School Boys Elite 7s division competition starts alongside USA Sevens, the fifth leg of the 2014-15 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series.

The BHSAAs’ division includes a strong Canadian contingent in British Columbia, Ontario Blues, Toronto Rugby, and Upright Rugby Rogues. The domestic teams include Atlantis, Palo Verde Rugby, Utah Lions, and Washington Loggers.

The BHSAAs return three key players from 2014 in Brian Hannon, Aaron Matthews, and Austin Taefu. All three played in the Las Vegas Invitational in 2014, as well as Rosslyn Park National School Sevens and II Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

The graduation of Cian Barry, Matt Brenna, Ben Cima, Hanco Germishuys, Seth Halliman, Vili Helu, Jesse Mander, Malcom May, Wes Parker, Michael Reid, Tyler Sousley, Jojo Tikoisuva, and Calvin Whiting means Salty Thompson’s team is a squad with a big challenge ahead.

“Graduating a core of solid players naturally makes room for the new generations,” the head coach said. “The challenge is to blend the boys into cohesive teams in a few practices. Vegas has been instrumental in providing a rare opportunity to play on home soil.”

In 2014, the BHSAAs took home the High School Boys Elite 7s Division Cup and Plate, the top two trophies at the tournament. Follow @AARugby on Twitter for more updates from the Las Vegas Invitational.

Name (FIRST) Name (LAST) H.S. Year Height Weight (lbs.) Rugby Club Name State/Country
Malon Al-Jiboori Senior 6’3″ 225 Union High School OK
Keagan Barnes Junior 5’7″ 155 Summitt Academy UT
Luke Bienstock Junior 6’1″ 185 Greenwich High School CT
Chase Bixby Senior 6’6″ 207 Granite Bay Rugby CA
Ryan Bradfield Senior 6’1″ 200 St Edward High School OH
Will Brennan Junior 6′ 185 Seattle vikings WA
Adam Channel Senior 6’3″ 184 Belmont Shore CA
Evan Clark Senior 5’10” 170 Santa Monica Dolphins CA
Alfonso Cornu-Labat Senior 6′ 175 East Side Lions WA
Erik Cortinas Senior 5’7″ 160 Peninsula Green CA
Christian Dyer Junior 6’2″ 185 Jesuit High School CA
Jeremy Fleet Senior 6’2″ 195 San Diego Mustangs CA
Jack Freiheit Senior 5’10” 170 Greenwich High School CT
Brian Hannon Senior 5’10” 181 Royal Irish Rugby IN
Travis Heer Senior 5’11” 200 Back Bay Rugby CA
Leki Fotu Junior 6’6″ 255 Peninsula Green CA
Devin Lim Senior 6’2″ 200 University City H.S. and Aztecs CA
Kyle Makaiwi Senior 5’9″ 170 Danville Oaks CA
Aaron Matthews Senior 5’10” 185 Back Bay Rugby CA
Nic Mirhashem Senior 5’11” 195 Rugby Club Sitges Spain
Olan Moon White Senior 6’1″ 175 Santa Monica Rugby Club CA
Brian Nault Senior 6’2″ 231 Shelton Rugby Club WA
Darian Power Senior 5’11” 175 United Rugby Club UT
Torran Raby Senior 6’2″ 208 San Diego Mustangs CA
Matthew Rogers Senior 5’9″ 150 Granite Bay Rugby CA
Nathaniel Short Senior 5’10” 170 Dixon Rugby Club CA
Austin Taefu Senior 5’7″ 175 Tempe Rugby AZ
Luis Turbyfield Senior 5’11” 180 Baltimore Poly MD

Two from Recruitment Camp hoping to make Wellington Sevens squad at Men's Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The latest Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp began Sunday, Jan. 18, at the United States Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center.

Ahmad Harajly and Mataiyasi Leuta made cases for themselves at the Jan. 10 National Team Recruitment Camp in Chula Vista and earned spots at this week’s camp for consideration for the squad headed to New Zealand next month. Sixteen athletes in residency, as well as three members of the World-Class Athlete Program, will be drilled and tested by the Men’s Eagles Sevens coaching staff.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Matai and Ahmad in camp this week and how they do with the residency athletes,” USA Rugby National Sevens Director Alex Magleby said. “It’s a big step up, but a deserved one, as both worked their way into the framework with quality performances at the National Team Recruitment Camp last weekend.”

Representatives of Detroit Tradesmen Rugby Football Club and California State University, Monterey Bay, respectively, Harajly and Leuta will get another opportunity to impress the coaching staff this week with Head Coach Mike Friday on site.

Residents Pat Blair, Pila Taufa, Mike Te’o, Stephen Tomasin, and Chris Turori returned from the USA Falcons’ development tour of South America Tuesday to join the Camp. Colton Cariaga, Zack Pangelinan, Glen Thommes, and Jack Tracy were also members of the Nese Malifa-coached team that competed in Sevens de Mar del Plata in Argentina and Sevens de Viña del Mar in Chile as part of the 2015 CONSUR South American Sevens Tour who returned to Camp.

Martin Iosefo and Aladdin Schirmer made their World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series debuts with the Eagles at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in December. The two debutants helped the Eagles move to ninth in the 2014-15 Series standings following the trip to Africa and were the only two changes made to the squad that traveled to Australia for Gold Coast Sevens.

Next on the docket for the Eagles is Wellington Sevens, the fourth stop of the circuit, before a return to the United States for USA Sevens in Las Vegas.

“It’s a beautiful setup,” Brown said of Wellington Sevens. “Two years ago, [Friday and I] lost the Final with the Kenyan squad. It will be nice to go there and put on a good performance and hopefully the results will take care of themselves and we’ll be in a good place come Day Two.

“The boys will be in good spirits for USA Sevens. We’ve got a job to do in Wellington first and then hopefully we can kick on to Las Vegas and make the fans proud and show them what we’ve been doing for the past six months.”

Friday’s team has been placed in Pool A with Series-leading South Africa, France, and Japan in New Zealand. Japan will offer the first test at Westpac Stadium Thursday, Feb. 5, at 6:21 p.m. ET.

First Name Last Name Club / School HP Team Height Weight (lbs.)
Perry Baker 1823 Residency / Tiger 6’1″ 180
Danny Barrett San Francisco Golden Gate Residency 6’3″ 220
Garrett Bender At Large Residency 6’4″ 220
Pat Blair Seattle Saracens Residency / Serevi 6’1″ 220
Nate Brakeley New York Athletic Club Northeast NDA 6’5″ 242
Colton Cariaga Life University Life NDA 5’10” 180
Andrew Durutalo   Residency 6’2″ 245
Nic Edwards At Large Residency 6’2″ 200
Walter Elder Kansas City Blues Philadelphia EC / Atlantis 6’3″ 215
Ahmad Harajly Detroit Tradesmen RFC   6’4″ 220
Will Holder Army World-Class Athlete Program – Army 6’2″ 210
Madison Hughes Dartmouth College Residency / AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans 5’8″ 170
Martin Iosefo University of Montana AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans / Tiger 6’1″ 215
Carlin Isles At Large Residency 5’8″ 165
Ben Leatigaga Army World-Class Athlete Program – Army 6’0″ 210
Mataiyasi Leuta California State University, Monterey Bay   6’3″ 235
Folau Niua At Large Residency 6’1″ 197
Zack Pangelinan Old Mission Beach Athletic Club Tiger 5’8″ 190
Aladdin Schirmer Central Washington University AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans 6’2″ 220
Pila Taufa At Large Residency 6’3″ 205
Mike Te’o Belmont Shore Residency / Tiger 5’8″ 205
Zack Test At Large Residency 6’3″ 195
Glen Thommes Schuylkill River AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans / Atlantis 6’3″ 215
Stephen Tomasin San Diego State Residency 5’10” 200
Jack Tracy Belmont Shore Tiger 6’2″ 205
Chris Turori Old Mission Beach Athletic Club Residency 6’4″ 225
Maka Unufe At Large Residency 6’2″ 200

Unavailable for selection:
Derek Lipscomb
Kingsley McGowan
Nu’u Punimata (injured)
Shalom Suniula
Michael Ziegler (injured)

Rugby sevens fans can now register for Rio 2016 Olympic Games tickets

  • Fans can register to receive all the latest information
  • Rugby returns to Olympic Games after a 92-year absence
  • Demand expected to be high for rugby sevens’ debut

Rugby fans around the world can now sign up to ensure they do not miss out on tickets for rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut after the Rio 2016 organising committee announced details of its ticketing plans.

The announcement represents an exciting milestone for the global rugby community as anticipation builds ahead of the sport’s return to the world’s biggest sporting stage after an absence of 92 years.

With the global qualification process well underway and rugby sevens continuing to excite, engage and inspire new participants and audiences around the world, demand for tickets is expected to be high.

Residents of Brazil will be able to apply to buy tickets in two draws, first in March 2015 and then in July 2015. For non-residents of Brazil, each country will have an authorised ticket reseller (ATR) selected by its National Olympic Committee and Rio 2016. The list of ATRs will be available at www.rio2016.com/tickets in March 2015, and will be sent to those who register for alerts.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS OF THE TICKET SALES PROCESS >>

CLICK HERE FOR MOBILE ACCESS TO THE SAME INFORMATION >>

World Rugby President Bernard Lapasset said: “The announcement is a very exciting and important milestone for rugby fans around the world. It marks the moment when they can begin to plan their Rio 2016 experience in earnest.

“Rugby sevens, with its winning blend of high-octane action, close competition and entertainment, is proving a hit with young audiences, broadcasters and commercial partners around the world. This is why we believe that Rio will love sevens and we look forward to hosting fans in an exceptional arena at the very heart of the Deodoro complex where fans will experience the dynamic athleticism of our rugby sevens Olympians in a unique festival atmosphere.”

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER AT THE RIO 2016 TICKET WEB PORTAL >>

Rio 2016 Ticketing Director Donovan Ferreti said: “Fans will experience this journey like an athlete, preparing and going through stages until the glory of arriving at the Games. With so many attractions, it is necessary to get organised early to ensure you don’t miss the best of the event.”

To ensure that all sections of Brazilian society will be able to attend the Games, more than half of the tickets (3.8 million) will be available for R$70 (about US$27) or less, and the cheapest tickets will be R$40 (about US$15). There will also be some half price tickets available to senior citizens, students and people with a disability, all of whom must have Brazilian residency. Price ranges (in Brazilian reals) for tickets to all sports and ceremonies are available HERE.

You can find out more about rugby sevens and the Olympic Games by clicking HERE.

Brown, Tolkin look back at first USA Rugby National Team Recruitment Camp

Fifty-seven athletes from around the country responded to USA Rugby’s National Team Olympic Recruitment Camp last weekend at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

Men’s Eagles Sevens Assistant Coach Chris Brown, USA Rugby National Sevens Director Alex Magleby, and Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin looked on as the Olympic and World Cup hopefuls were put through multiple tests and drills Jan. 10 on the United States Olympic Committee pitch.

“It was a productive first National Team Recruitment Camp,” Magleby said. “A handful of athletes who were not previously on the radar stood out, and there were a bunch who, given the right environment, could impact this Olympic cycle in a positive way with their athleticism. There were also some younger athletes who probably will be able to affect the 2020 cycle.”

The women’s portion of the Camp was rescheduled due to low registration numbers, but the high performance team will ensure the next Camp draws some of the top non-rugby-playing male and female athletes.

“The National Team Recruitment Camp afforded the opportunity for many to get a look with the national and academy coaches who may not have had that chance in the past,” Magleby said. “We look forward to hosting more, learning from this first ‘beta’ Camp, and providing more opportunities like this for men and women athletes in the future.”

Ryan Gallop of NAKOA Fitness and Physical Therapy, former Eagle Matt Hawkins, Paul Holmes of Tiger Rugby, and Chris Tombs of Serevi Rugby were also on hand in Chula Vista to assist with the Camp. With the next step for several of the athletes with Olympic aspirations likely meaning a place with a USA Rugby National Development Academy, Holmes and Tombs were able to scout for their own purposes while simultaneously noting the pros and cons of an open-tryout-type camp.

“We did speak afterwards in the sense of what we can do to enhance it next time,” Brown said. “Obviously this is just the start and also finding our feet on how to do things and how we can maximize resources and personnel.”

Though the Camp was held at the Olympic Training Center with mainly sevens-specific staff, Tolkin’s presence brought a 15s flavor to the day. Many of the athletes attending Camp took time away from the beginning of their spring 15s seasons to give the Eagles’ head coach something to think about in a Rugby World Cup year.

“I thought there was a good amount that legitimately could’ve put their hand up [for selection],” he said. “I think seeing a guy in action is a lot more valuable for me personally. The sevens dynamic works a little differently; you can get that athlete in, you can fast-track them a little easier. Watching a 15s player in-game brings more value.

“At the same time, this is a starting process. This is a first step.”

Some of the athletes had a rugby-playing background, while others had previously played sports like basketball and American football. The versatility of “crossovers” was tested, said Brown, and it was eye-opening to see the level of play from athletes hoping to win a gold medal for the United States.

“I know they’ve been athletes in their time and I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to get them physically into pretty good shape,” Brown said. “Unless they’re a complete standout when they come here, then they need to get that combination of conditioning and technical understanding right with also the fundamental skills.”

Two athletes made enough of impression on the coaching staff to warrant an invite to next week’s Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp, the fifth such Camp held during the tenure of Brown and Head Coach Mike Friday. A 12-man squad will be selected from the Camp, which will run at the Olympic Training Center Jan. 18-24, for Wellington Sevens, the fourth stop of the 2014-15 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series.

College players to be available for senior club matches via eligibility exemption

BOULDER, Colo. – An exemption in USA Rugby’s Eligibility Regulations has been approved by the Board of Directors, which will allow for in-season transfers of collegiate players to senior club teams.

Under the new college-to-club exemption, a collegiate player may join a senior club at the conclusion of his or her team’s intercollegiate schedule without forfeiting future collegiate eligibility, and become eligible for senior club qualifying matches following an approved transfer request. As with any club transfer request, a written release from the player’s previous club, in this case the student-athlete’s college club, must accompany the transfer request.

The eligibility modification seeks to provide college rugby players the opportunity to gain additional match experience equal to or greater than the competitive environment of the student athlete’s collegiate regimen once his or her intercollegiate match schedule has been completed. For players deemed to be part of USA Rugby’s High Performance Player Pathway, a separate waiver can be granted to allow back-and-forth participation between college and elite senior club sides in the midst of the player’s intercollegiate schedule.

“This exemption allowing college-grade players the ability to enhance their rugby skills by playing in senior club matches will not only benefit the individual’s development, but will boost the student-athlete’s collegiate club when he or she returns to the university’s team,” said USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez.

“Some college clubs don’t have sufficient funding to build a schedule capable of providing an adequate number of matches to ensure athletic growth. This wrinkle in our Eligibility Regulations should help mediate that.”

It is believed that the regulation updates will additionally help to foster relationships between collegiate sides and senior club teams, which is imperative to the recruitment and retention of players between levels.

“Both of these changes are a big win for colleges and senior clubs alike,” noted USA Rugby Club Department Manager Erik Geib. “Allowing college players a chance to continue their season is a common-sense update, and American rugby absolutely needs its top players to have a chance to test themselves in premier competitions like the American Rugby Premiership and Women’s Premier League without losing their collegiate eligibility.

“We’ve also put in caps to protect both sides. With the three-player roster limit per match, we’re protecting club competitions from essentially playing full college teams – especially in some rural areas where a top college side might exist. Additionally, college coaches have to explicitly name the dates their elite players play club in season, which stops club teams from pulling players away during high-profile college matches.”

The updated USA Rugby Eligibility Regulations reflect both college-to-club changes, and the necessary Transfer Request can both be found at USARugby.org.