July 7, 2016
Rugby Utah Sends Four to Tiger Rugby & Names Squad for Heartland 7s Qualifier
Rugby Utah Release: Kimball Kjar
Salt Lake City, UT—Rugby Utah’s state-based elite representative 7s team, the National Development Academy (NDA), which is a USA Rugby-sanctioned NDA program, will continue building the elite level pathways as the NDA will send four members to play with Tiger Rugby while the rest of the NDA team will travel to Kansas City for the Heartland 7s qualifier.
Tiger Rugby, another USA Rugby-sanctioned NDA, is one of the country’s most seasoned and elite 7s rugby select teams. Having four players selected for a Tiger Rugby assembly provides the players with more development opportunities and exposure to national team opportunities.
“Despite our team heading to the Heartland 7s this weekend,” said Rugby Utah NDA Director Steve St. Pierre, “We knew playing with an elite level program like Tiger Rugby would offer our guys an opportunity that they couldn’t and shouldn’t pass up. In the end, our goal is to provide pathways and opportunities, and something like this fits into our mission as a program to get our local talent playing elite-level rugby”
The four players selected to play with Tiger Rugby are BYU All American Calvin Whiting, Weber State University captain Keoni Dellermanm, Salt Lake City Gladiators standout Seu Siliga and BYU newcomer Zach Webber.
The four NDA members will play with Tiger Rugby in the Regenesis International Rugby 7s Tournament in Dallas, TX. The tournament is being organized by Super Rugby franchise the Blue Bulls from South Africa. The tournament will feature a variety of South African teams with other American teams, including Tiger Rugby.
This Tiger Rugby team playing in Dallas is a developmental U23 team, the second-only time such a team has be assembled by Tiger Rugby, with the first such assembly offering a peek at current USA Rugby 7s standout Perry Baker back in 2012.
Tiger Rugby’s selection of four Utah players exhibits a growing interest in NDA collaboration to provide playing opportunities for players.
“There are a tremendous number of excellent players across the country that just never get a chance to show what they can do,” says James Walker, founder of Tiger Rugby, “Rugby Utah is an incredible organization, driven by very passionate folks who are highly aligned with our mission at Tiger Rugby. We are very excited in this new collaboration, and excited about the four players that they will be providing for this upcoming tour.”
Supporting these four NDA athletes as they travel to Dallas is GoPlay Sports Tours, an ACIS company, the Leader in Quality Educational Travel. GoPlay Sports Tours is a premier Rugby Utah partner and supports the NDA and other affiliate Rugby Utah programs with their sports travel needs.
The Regenesis International Rugby 7s Tournament kicks off Friday afternoon with knockout rounds concluding on Saturday. Rugby Utah and Tiger Rugby social media will cover the results of the weekend’s games.
The second round of the Frontier 7s qualifying process will kick-off this weekend as well in Kansas City as the Rugby Utah NDA teams travels with a new look team that will hope to validate their Denver 7s title.
“Losing the four guys to Tiger Rugby is double-edged sword,” said NDA head coach Ben Nichols, “We lose some solid players that helped us in Denver, but we get a chance to bring in some more players that we’re excited about and we’re looking forward to see perform well under pressure this weekend.”
Leading the new look NDA team is captain Don Pati, a former University of Utah All-American, who returns from the 12-man Denver squad.
New comers to the NDA squad for the Heartland 7s include Pei Kuli, Provo Steelers standout center, Ioane Iaone, Salt Lake City Gladiators star flanker, Josh Anderson, a tall speedy winger from BYU, Robert Ah Sue, former Belmont Shore standout and current Park City Haggis winger, and Naki Angilau, a former University of Utah All American and Highland Rugby National Champion.
The rest of the NDA roster remains unchanged with Nichols and former BYU All American and USA Eagle Jeff Hullinger managing the team from the sidelines.
The Rugby Utah NDA currently sits atop the Frontier 7s Qualifier standings after winning the Denver 7s qualifier two weekends ago after beating Kansas City Blues 24-12 in the championship game.
The NDA will play in Pool A alongside the Denver Barbarians, Black Dragons and the Kansas City RFC. Pool B features the Kansas City Blue, Glendale Raptors, Omaha Goats and Sporting Club 7s.
“Were excited to blood a new crop of players for this weekend,” said Nichols, “We are still fighting for respect since we’re still the new kid on the block. But we’re excited to play against these top programs and look forward to taking another step in the right direction.”
RUGBY UTAH NDA TEAM FOR HEARTLAND 7s
At Swope Soccer Village & Victory Field—Saturday, July 9th
- Vern Ale (Mana)
- Don Pati (Park City Haggis) ©
- Jason Pye (Park City Haggis)
- Jared Whippy (BYU)
- Tua Laei (BYU)
- Peni Pahulu (Provo Steelers)
- Joseph Nicholls (BYU)
- Iaone Iaone (SLC Gladiators)
- Josh Anderson (BYU)
- Pei Kuli (Provo Steelers)
- Naki Angilau (West Valley Lions)
- Robert Ah Sue (Park City Haggis)
- Head Coach: Ben Nicholls
- Asst. Coach: Jeff Hullinger
NDA POOL A SCHEDULE FOR HEARTLAND 7s (All times Central Timezone)
- 9.40am: NDA vs. Kansas City RFC
- 11.20am: NDA vs. Black Dragons
- 1.00pm: NDA vs. Denver Barbarians
*Possible semifinal seedings based on Pool A results
About Rugby Utah
Rugby Utah (RU) is the official Recognized Geographic Rugby Organization for USA Rugby and is focused on aggregating the strengths of rugby in the state of Utah, from the youth to the elite levels. The goal of RU is to unify rugby within the state through High Performance programs like the Olympic Development Academy and Community programs like the Rugby Business Network, Touch Rugby League and A 2nd Try Foundation. With these programs already producing positive results on and off the pitch the “United State of Rugby” looks to develop the most elite rugby players, coaches and referees and to develop the economic engines necessary to build and strengthen America’s rugby culture. For more information, visit www.rugbyutah.com #UnitedStateofRugby
About Tiger Rugby
Tiger Rugby has grown from a local touring side, to an internationally respected rugby brand with touring teams that cross the globe looking for new places to compete. Over the last 7 years alone we have competed at the Nelson Mandela Bay 7’s in South Africa, Mar Del Plata Argentina, Fiji, Bora Bora Tahiti, Safari 7’s Kenya, Shanghai 7’s China, Melrose 7’s Scotland, Cancun 7’s Mexico and Central Coast 7s in Australia. In addition international representative players from USA, New Zealand, Kenya and England come through our ranks. In late 2012 we opened our first High Performance Olympic Development Academy to identify and train up the next generation of rugby stars. Is there a Tiger in you? Visit www.tigerrugby.com.
About GoPlay Sports Tours / ACIS
Since 1978 ACIS, the American Council for International Studies, has been a leader in quality travel for middle and high school students and their teachers. We believe in the power of travel to open students’ eyes and change their lives—and every detail of our tours is carefully crafted to help make it happen. This is replicated through our sports division, where we believe coaches, players and parents alike want the best possible experience, on an exceptional program. We are also committed to being partners with the coaches who take our trips, and work hard to help them select and customize trips that fulfill their team’s objectives. While we offer a range of trip types to fit different budgets and goals, every trip features, training at great facilities, games against the best opposition, tickets to see the best teams in the world, authentic meals, and centrally-located hotels. We believe this brings our teams closer to the people, places and culture. We’re also known for the quality of our tour managers: smart, well-traveled individuals hired for their knowledge, enthusiasm and ability to bring sports and culture to life. Visit www.acis.com/goplay.