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

ACADEMY ROSTER

 

  Name Position Age Nationality Referral Pathway
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

Role Name Organisation
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