USA Rugby Selects Named For World Rugby Pacific Challenge

USA Rugby Selects Named For World Rugby Pacific Challenge


Doug Coil

USA Rugby released the Selects squad for the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge in Montevideo, Uruguay.

USA Rugby is committed to providing high performance opportunities for its players and its coaches. Ray Egan, PRO Rugby’sSan Diego Breakers Head Coach, will coach this Eagles development side along with former internationals Chris O’Brien and Shawn Pittman. The Selects will gather in West Palm Beach, Fla., Oct. 1-4 and then depart for South America where they face the Fiji Warriors (Oct. 8), Canada A (Oct. 12), and Uruguay A (Oct. 16).

Alex Magleby, USA Rugby General Manager of National Teams and Performance, said “The APC will serve as a stern and much-needed challenge for what are hopefully many of our future Eagles. We also believe the staff–made up of a combination of national team, age-grade, and PRO coaches–have a rare opportunity to further develop under the pressures of international ‘A’ level competition.”

The USA National Team Pathway is an important vehicle for tracking elite athletes in the USA.  The USA played in the World Cup last year and is trying to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan during 2017. During 2016, a new international competition, the Americas Rugby Championship was created. This provided the Eagles with another high performance opportunity and it will be held once again in February. After that competition, PRO Rugby launched the first professional rugby union competition in the United States and the Denver Stampede were the inaugural league winners. PRO Rugby is looking to expand the number of teams during their second year, so this will provide additional opportunities for elite USA athletes.  PRO Rugby’s contribution to the the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge is evident, as eleven PRO players were named to the Selects squad.

Magleby added “In years past, because of our amateur domestic landscape, the Selects really had to focus solely on the near-term–garnering much-needed competitive repetitions, no matter the stage of their careers, to prepare for near-term test matches. With the emergence of the nascent professional daily training environments for 100-plus U.S.-eligible athletes through PRO Rugby, the Selects can now serve as a true missing link between our best age-grade players from the Junior and Collegiate All-Americans, as well as transitioning players from sevens, into future core Eagles.”

Eleven PRO Rugby players were selected to play with the Selects. The League Champion Denver Stampede is represented by forwards Hanco Germishuys and Jake Turnbull. The Ohio Aviators have Demecus Beach at prop, while JP Eloff and Ahmad Harajily are versatile backs. The San Diego Breakers have four forwards in Cecil Garber, Mason Pedersen, Joe Taufete’e and Sione Tuihalamaka. Mikey Te’o also is an attacking option as a back. The San Francisco Rush has Siaosi Mahoni on the squad. These players will battle in the trenches and also represent 20 of the team’s 31 test caps.

Several of the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens players have been selected. Pat Blair, martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta, Brett Thompson and Stephen Tomasin are on the squad.

The Selects also have two previously capped Eagles in Harry Higgins from Old Blue of New York and Aladdin Schirmer from the Seattle Saracens. Christian Ostberg, who plays for Stade Aurillacois in France, hopes, as do the others, to make enough of an impression to be consider for the November tests.

There are also several other young players that were selected. Ben Cima won a match for the MJAAs when he slotted a kick through the uprights beyond midfield to win an international match. He plays for Rocky Gorge Rugby Club in Maryland. Nick Boyer, is a recent Cal graduate and is unattached, as West Coast teams have not begun their season. Malon Al-Jiboori and Chance Wenglewski play for Lindenwood University, Bryce Campbell for Indiana University, Alex Manghan for Life University and Matthew Jensen for Brigham Young University.

The World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge is a national ‘A’ side competition and provide another opportunity to obtain valuable international experience and is an investment in the future for USA Rugby.

Alex Magleby discussed the team’s composition saying “This might just be the youngest senior squad ever assembled under the USA Rugby crest. The average age of this team is hovering around 23. The progress our community has made at the youth and collegiate level, to be able to produce these younger athletes with years of domestic and international experience under their belts, is displayed by the All-Americans on this roster.”

MJAA Head Coach JD Stephenson will be the team manager for the Americas Pacific Challenge, as well as defense coach. Alex Ross was named as strength and conditioning coach for the men’s national team.

The Selects travel to a camp in Florida and this is the result of contributions by Tom Pirelli, creator of Golden Eagles, and of Evan Haigh and the volunteers at Florida Youth Rugby. The team will leave for Montevideo on Tuesday, Oct. 4and play their first match on Saturday, Oct. 8. Broadcast details for the Americas Pacific Challenge will be determined by World Rugby and announced when known.

USA Rugby Selects | Americas Pacific Challenge

Player Club/School Position
Malon Al-Jiboori Lindenwood University (D1A) Loose forward
Demecus Beach Ohio Aviators (PRO) / Old Blue of New York Front row
Pat Blair Men’s Eagles Sevens Front row
Nicklas Boyer At-Large Half back
Bryce Campbell Indiana University (D1A) Center
Benjamin Cima Rocky Gorge Rugby Football Club Half back
Jean-Pierre Eloff Ohio Aviators (PRO) / Chicago Lions Half back
Cecil Garber San Diego Breakers (PRO) / Seattle Saracens Loose forward
Hanco Germishuys Denver Stampede (PRO) Front row
Ahmad Harajly Ohio Aviators (PRO) Full back
Harry Higgins Old Blue of New York Second row
Martin Iosefo Men’s Eagles Sevens Center
Matthew Jensen Brigham Young University Second row
Mataiyasi Leuta Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Siaosi Mahoni San Francisco Rush (PRO) Second row
Alex Maughan Life University (D1A) Front row
Christian Ostberg Stade Aurillacois (FRA) Second row
Mason Pedersen San Diego Breakers (PRO) / Belmont Shore Rugby Football Club Front row
Aladdin Schirmer Seattle Saracens Loose forward
Joseph Taufete’e San Diego Breakers (PRO) Front row
Mike Te’o San Diego Breakers (PRO) Full back
Brett Thompson Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Stephen Tomasin Men’s Eagles Sevens Half back
Sione Tu’ihalamaka San Diego Breakers (PRO) Loose forward
Jake Turnbull Denver Stampede (PRO) / New York Athletic Club Front row
Chance Wenglewski Lindenwood University (D1A) Front row

USA Rugby Selects | Coaching Staff
Ray Egan – Head Coach
Shawn Pittman – Assistant Coach
Chris O’Brien – Assistant Coach / Video Analyst
Alex Ross – Strength and Conditioning
Mark Sakr – Team Doctor
Kevin Ng – Physiotherapist
JD Stephenson – Manager

Americas Pacific Challenge | Tournament Schedule

Round Date Team Team Time (ET)
1 Oct. 8 Argentina XV v Canada A 11:30 a.m.
USA Rugby Selects
v Fiji Warriors 1:30 p.m.
Samoa A v Uruguay A 3:30 p.m.
2 Oct. 12 Samoa A v Fiji Warriors 11:30 a.m.
USA Rugby Selects
v Canada A 1:30 p.m.
Argentina XV v Uruguay A 3:30 p.m.
3 Oct. 16 Samoa A v Canada A 11:30 a.m.
USA Rugby Selects
v Uruguay A 1:30 p.m.
Argentina XV v Fiji Warriors 3:30 p.m.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant