AIG MJAAs Developmental Team announced for Canada series

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

Jack Walsh

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

Rob Randell

Britney Schenck – Physiotherapist

OJ Hawea – Team Manager