AIG MCAAs open Tour with win against Darling Downs

TOOWOOMBA, Queensland – The AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans secured their first victory of the Tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog Saturday, a 31-17 defeat of a Darling Downs representative side at Gold Park.

Mason Pedersen put the MCAAs on the board following two tries from Darling Downs in the opening 10 minutes. Capped Eagle Deion Mikesell dotted down to level the score – and added a yellow card at the end of the first frame – with the age-grade national team playing a free-flowing attack similar to that of the senior side. Half backs Nick Boyer and Conor Kearns ran the show more than effectively; the fly half set up a Tua Laei try late in the first half with a cross-field kick to extend the team’s lead to 24-12, an advantage it into halftime.

The MCAAs enjoyed the majority of possession in the match, and would have had a larger margin of victory had turnovers and costly errors not caused several try-scoring opportunities to go begging. The coaching staff, led by Gavin Hickie, will highlight that fact in the review session prior to the team’s next match against Brothers Rugby Football Club Wednesday, Aug. 9.

The replay of Saturday’s match will be made available on the Tour Facebook page.

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

AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans | 31

Tries: Pederson, Mikesell, Helu, Laei, Whiting

Conversions: Kearns, Audsley

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 – W 31-17

v. Brothers Rugby Football Club – Wednesday, Aug. 10 @ 4 a.m. ET

v. Queensland Premier Barbarians – Saturday, Aug. 13 @ 5:30 a.m. ET

AIG MCAA coaching staff announced

BOULDER, Colo. – Following an extensive search of qualified candidates at home and abroad, USA Rugby announced Thursday the new coaching staff for the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans.

Gavin Hickie, former Aviva Premiership hooker and current Dartmouth Men’s Rugby head coach, will take over as head coach after working with USA Rugby national teams for the better part of three years. Hickie assisted his predecessor, Matt Sherman, as forwards coach in 2014 and held the same role for the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans for two years, including the World Rugby U20 Trophy-winning campaign in 2012.

More on the revamped MCAA program >>

Additional coaching experience with the USA Rugby Selects, coupled with international playing experience for the Ireland under-19, under-21, A-side and sevens teams, has helped push Hickie through the U.S. coaching pathway. Hickie will focus on identifying front-row forwards in the collegiate ranks capable of future international play.

“It is a truly exciting time to be a young rugby player in the U.S. with more opportunities to learn and compete than ever before,” Hickie said. “My aim for the program is two-fold: to celebrate the outstanding collegiate rugby players along with identifying and developing future Eagles.”

Clemson Head Coach Justin Hickey and Yale Head Coach Greg McWilliams will join the coaching staff as forwards coach and backs coach, respectively. Hickey worked with Hickie during the MJAAs’ successful U20 Trophy assembly in Utah, while McWilliams has extensive coaching experience with Blackrock College, St. Michael’s College, Leinster’s under-19s, and Ireland women. Hickey will primarily focus on identifying future locks and loose forwards. McWilliams will focus on finding future Eagle halfbacks, centers, fullbacks, and wings.

Tony Pacheco, reappointed head coach of the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Sevens, will also serve as MCAA scouting director. He will oversee the Eagle Eye Scout Network at the collegiate level, and will also continue to focus on identifying athletes who can excel in the sevens version of the game through superior aerial skills, restart-kicking, evasive running, catch-pass, and tackling ability.

“Tony has done a nice job selecting students who have proved capable at the next level, with current Men’s Eagles Sevens examples Nate Augspurger, Pat Blair, Martin Iosefo, Aladdin Schirmer, and Brett Thompson evolving from his All-American teams,” Magleby said. “He has a demonstrated eye for talent. We look forward to working with him, along with Gavin, Justin, and Greg, as they continue their progressions from emerging to being elite-level coaches.”

Collaborating with the MCAA coaching staff are newly-appointed head scouts from each collegiate division. Five-time national champion coach and current Michigan Head Coach Brandon Sparks, American International College Head Coach Josh Macy, Minnesota-Duluth’s National Champion head coach, Jeramy Katchuba, and New England College Head Coach Jeremy Treece will manage scouts and player identification in D1A, D1AA, DII, and NSCRO play, respectively. The scouts will be part of the burgeoning Eagle Eye Scout Network and will enter into the Eagles Coach Development Program.

“Developing an effective Collegiate All-American program to identify, monitor, and help develop our student-athletes throughout the year is a vital step in the long-term progress of our national team as we look ahead to the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups,” Hickie said.

The Men’s Collegiate All-American Selection Committee was composed of USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez, Magleby, international athlete representative Mike Petri, USA Rugby Coach Development Director Josh Sutcliffe, and Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin.

More information on the Eagle Eye Scout Network, the Eagles Coach Development Program, and summer All-American assembly dates will be announced shortly.