Nearly two dozen of the top up-and-coming North American rugby prospects will have the opportunity to take to the field this weekend as they enter the Aspen Ruggerfest after their initial six weeks of training. The roster is comprised predominately of U21 players, with the addition of several NCAA transfer athletes and a few looking to maintain fitness for Rugby Canada and the USA Rugby World Cup squads.
The athletes train daily at Glendale’s World Class facility, Infinity Park. Early morning skill sessions and strength & conditioning, which allows the middle of the day for work commitments, studies, ACT/SAT prep, etc. With three matches over the three months strategically placed every 3-4 weeks it allows ample time for teaching and skill development.
“The North American academy is designed to continue developing the next generation of talent from Canada and the United States by providing top quality coaching, facilities, resources and opportunities to compete. The pathway of athletes to the program is quite diverse. Some have come through age grade, most have been referred through Major League Rugby academies and local outreach identifying talent in their markets and some are NCAA transfer athletes.” said Dan Payne, Rugby Americas Chief Executive Officer.
Focusing on athletes under or near the age of 21, the academy roster includes a variety of experiences from MLR academies, USA & Canada age-grade pathways and crossover athletes that have featured in NCAA sports. Several have spent time on NFL practice squads and were identified as part of the player ID combines. The academy provides opportunities for some athletes to live on-site, some choose to live off-site and others make themselves available throughout 90 days around their post-secondary education schedule.
“Our goal is to support the exciting growth of Major League Rugby in North America by providing labor that is prepared to be able to step in and continue developing while contributing to the training environment. For many young players it’s difficult to make the jump directly to professional rugby and this academy will provide the necessary tools for targeted athletes to be prepared to enter and continue their development in an elite daily training environment in 2020 and beyond. Many are low or just outside the 23-man roster and with the focus being on winning games during the season, it’s crucial these athletes get the minutes of competition and focus required to assist in their development throughout the remainder of the year” he added.
“We have held two previous combines in Glendale – one for South American players looking to potentially earn MLR opportunities and 15 of the 20 ended up signing contracts. In June the second camp focused on development and talent identification – this academy is a continuation on the latter to aid in the necessary development,” said Payne.
Throughout the course of the three months, the athletes will have the opportunity to work with a number of international coaches, including:
- Paul Emerick – USA Eagle & Houston Sabercats Skills Coach
- Aaron Carpenter – Canada’s all-time cap leader & Toronto Arrows Assistant Coach
- Mike Tolkin – Former USA Eagles & Rugby United New York Head Coach
- Andy Clarke – Brumbies Skills Coach
|1||Brennon Adams||Wing||24||USA||HP Combine/MLR referral|
|2||Fred Adjuda*||Backrow||26||USA||HP Combine/Pro-Athlete Football/MLR referral|
|3||Mike Dabulas||Flyhalf||22||USA||HP Combine/College all Americans/MLR referral|
|4||Cory Daniel||Backrow||23||USA||HP Combine/NCAA Transfer Athlete (Wrestling)|
|5||Charlie Hola||Backrow||18||USA||HP Combine/High School all Americans|
|6||Nick Hyrekewicz*||Hooker||22||USA||HP Combine/Collegiate Pathway|
|7||Joel Jaldin||Hooker||23||USA||MLR referral|
|8||Ryan James||Wing||19||USA||HP Combine/MLR referral|
|9||Campbell Johnstone||Centre||21||USA||HP Combine/MLR referral|
|10||Mika Kruse||Centre||21||USA||HP Combine/MLR referral|
|11||Genesis Lucius||Wing||21||USA||HP Combine/Capital Selects referral|
|12||Pat Lynott||Prop||25||Canada||MLR referral|
|13||Jordan Mariney||Wing||19||USA||MLR referral|
|14||Jack McRogers*||Hooker||20||Canada||HP Combine/Canada age grade|
|15||Jeff Peleseuma||Flyhalf||18||USA||USA U20’s|
|16||Ryan Rees*||Scrum Half||22||USA||HP Combine/College all Americans|
|17||Moses Saole||Prop||19||USA||MLR referral|
|18||Sidney Shoop||Scrum Half||19||USA||HP Combine|
|19||Ryan Smith||Lock||23||USA||HP Combine/Pro-Athlete Football/MLR referral|
|20||Bailey Wilson||Backrow||19||USA||USA U20’s|
|21||Salanoa-Alo Wily||Prop||23||USA||NCAA Transfer Athlete (Football)|
*Highlighted players are non-residents and are being monitored while competing in elite university training environment
|HP Project Manager||Chris Thomson||World Rugby|
|Lead Coach||Andy Clark||HP Consultant|
|Senior Advisor||Chris Hickey||HP Consultant|
|Manager||Kieran Browner||Rugby Americas Consultant|
|S&C/Physio||Castle Creighton||Rugby Americas Consultant|
|Game Analyst||Travis Haugen||Rugby Americas Consultant/Glendale Raptors|
|Sports Dietician||Claire McDaniels||Rugby Americas Consultant/Denver University|
|Assistant Coach||Peter Borlase||Rugby Americas Consultant/Glendale Raptors|
|Assistant Coach||Paul Emerick||Houston Sabercats|
|Assistant Coach||Mike Tolkin||NYAC|
|Assistant Coach||Aaron Carpenter||Toronto Arrows|