LAFAYETTE, Colo. – An AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Developmental Team will make its debut during the holiday break with a two-match series against Rugby Canada’s under-19 squad at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Consisting of 34 athletes, Head Coach JD Stephenson’s MJAAs Developmental Team fulfills under-19 eligibility regulations rather than the MJAAs’ usual under-20 age restriction. The larger squad will be fully utilized across the Dec. 30, 2016, and Jan. 2, 2017, match days.
“This assembly is not only a great stop-gap for High School All-Americans preparing for collegiate rugby and young Junior All-Americans hoping to continue their age-grade careers, but builds on the continuity of the High Performance programs in a storied setting with Canada,” Stephenson said. “The talent level of the country’s youth grows year to year, and this under-19 squad will further showcase the camaraderie and passion our young players have to represent their country.”
Ruben De Haas leads an experienced group of youths as the only returning MJAA from the World Rugby U20 Trophy held in Zimbabwe earlier this year. He is joined by eight Boys High School All-American teammates from the spring’s Las Vegas Invitational assembly and the summer’s Ontario Tour, with a further 10 BHSAA alumni from the British Columbia Tour selected, as well.
Most of the squad maintains BHSAA eligibility, and are assembling with the MJAAs Developmental Team rather than the BHSAA Winter Camp to be held during the same period.
An abundance of BHSAAs involvement includes 10 athletes from the 2015 JV Tour of Europe – where Salty Thompson’s under-17 squad played France and two matches against Belgium – and 12 from the 2015 BHSAA Winter Camp. Graduates of the BHSAA program, in one way or another, in contention for selection against Canada make up nearly two-thirds of the squad, and 11 will be 17 years of age or younger come kickoff Dec. 30.
Arkansas State University pair Calvin Gentry and Campbell Robinson will participate in their first USA Rugby assemblies having been selected from one of this month’s three MJAAs Evaluation Camps. More than 140 athletes attended one of the Camps in Marietta, Ga., Vallejo, Calif., and Casa Grande, Ariz., under the guidance of Stephenson and staff ahead of the under-19 series and a full 2017 competition slate. Eight additional athletes will earn debut selections for their performances at Regional Cup Tournaments and nominations from collegiate and club coaches in 2016.
“Despite their ages, these athletes have already proven they can represent the U.S. with the necessary pride and ability,” Stephenson said. “They are mentally strong and physically able to challenge their Canadian counterparts over 160 minutes.”
Broadcast details for the two matches between the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Developmental Team and Canada will be announced closer to the assembly dates. More information can be found by following USA Rugby’s All-American Twitter account (@aarugby).
AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Developmental Team | Canada U19 Series
Muhammad Abdullah – Trojans Rugby Club
David Ainuu – Liberty Patriots
Ben Broselle – Chuckanut Bay High School
Ruben De Haas – Little Rock Junior Stormers
Sean Dowling – Fort Hunt Warriors
Li’a Faletogo-Monis – Central Washington University
Maanaima Fualaau – Life Chiropractic College West
Calvin Gentry – Arkansas State University
Antonios Grigoriou – University of Arizona
Ryan James – San Diego Young Aztec Warriors
Justin Johnson – Life University
Tavite Lopeti – Life West
Sean Lumkong – Coastal Dragons
Nafitalai Maafu – Tempe Old Devils
Patrick Madden – San Diego Young Aztec Warriors
Sosefo Mailangi-Ray – Back Bay Sharks
William Mailau – Peninsula Green High School
Conor McManus – Fort Hunt Warriors
Jack Miller – University of Colorado
Jeremy Ockomichalak – Santa Monica Dolphins
Karem Odeh – Life University
Conner Pederson – Eastside Rugby Football Club Washington
Quinn Perry – Santa Monica Dolphins
Jonas Petrakopoulos – Royal Irish
Kelsin Pupunu – University of Utah
Campbell Robinson – Arkansas State University
Joseph Rusert-Cuddy – Palmer High School Terrors
Joshua Schnell – Katy Barbarians
Dillon Shotwell – Texas State University
Isaia Taotua – Danville Oaks
William Waguespack – University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Bailey Wilson – United Varsity Rugby
Marcos Young – Key Biscayne Rats
AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Developmental Team | Coaching Staff
JD Stephenson – Head Coach
Michael Engelbrecht – Defense Coach
Shawn Pittman – Forwards Coach
Justin Goonan – Head of Performance
James Walton – Video Analyst
Jimmy Harrison – Manager & Video Analyst
Britney Schenck – Physiotherapist
OJ Hawea – Team Manager