USA Rugby Release
It’s been a long 18 months since COVID-19 forced all levels of the game to its heels, disrupting training, competition and talent identification opportunities.
With the Olympics now in the rearview, Head Coach Mike Friday and the USA Men’s Sevens will begin a new cycle, starting Monday, where eight up-and-coming players will attend high performance camp ahead of Edmonton and Vancouver World Series stops.
- Adam Channel | Hooker, Giltinis (RugbyTown 7s), Belmont Shore (Club 7s)
- Shawn Clark | Forward, USA U23s (RugbyTown 7s)
- Aaron Cummings | Forward, Houston (RugbyTown 7s), Chicago Lions (Club 7s)
- Jerome Nale | Halfback, Santa Rosa (RugbyTown 7s)
- Aki Raymond | Wing, Tsunami Barbarians (RugbyTown 7s)
- David Still | Wing, USA U23s (RugbyTown 7s)
- Jack Wendling | Forward, USA U23s (RugbyTown 7s)
- Alex Wormer | Forward, Denver Selects (RugbyTown 7s), Barbarians (Club 7s)
A total of 10 players were invited to camp including D’Montae Noble (Tsunami Barbarians/Old Glory DC) and Lucas LeCamp (USA U23/Belmont Shore) who were unable to attend.
All athletes were scouted from Club 7s National Championships and RugbyTown 7s which recently held events for the first time in two years. Both competitions breathed life back into the talent identification pathway from which the program built a longer list of potential athletes to track for a new wave of invitations later this Fall.
As the pandemic wreaked havoc on the community game, credit truly goes to club coaches and players for their passion and commitment to the game in impossible times.
After a long standstill, talent identification has finally seen an uptick in activity with regional Talent ID Camps hosted by USA Rugby’s High Performance Pathways and World Rugby, as well as the Colorado XOs initiative by the City of Glendale and the resumption of collegiate and club programs.
Added to the mix now are new opportunities by way of PR Sevens, a professional rugby sevens league to kick off in October. In collaboration with national team coaches, the league will provide additional talent identification and development opportunities for all up-and-coming players, as well as those included in Coach Friday’s list of prospects.
“Well-done to Howard Kent and his team for Club 7s Nationals, as well as Linda Cassady and the City of Glendale for making RugbyTown 7s and the Colorado XOs a success,” said Coach Friday. “There were a lot of positives coming out of those events, not only in the eight players coming in next week but in the longer list of athletes we’ve identified as prospects.
“We need competitions, programs and clubs to keep that conveyor belt of talent flourishing, so the national team can continue to be among the top rugby nations in the world. We all have to be realistic about the work ahead in these next few months as this transition between cycles will be the most difficult and challenging yet, compounded by the last 18 months of Covid disruption.”
While it’s clear that time and patience will be a necessity in the next chapter, Coach Friday and staff now see a more consistent trajectory to build depth not only towards Paris 2024 but also Los Angeles 2028.
“We need a bridge between the collegiate game and the national team pathway to keep the pipeline full of players as this cycle unfolds. The PR Sevens will complement what we have seen this summer, together with the continued work on the High Performance Pathways side. All of this is key to creating those opportunities either with a professional sevens team or junior national team program.
“It is a tight and incredibly harsh timeline from a talent identification and development perspective but we have a great opportunity in this next high performance camp to bring these eight new players into the fold and get the longer list in the mix in the upcoming PR Sevens and pathways program. We want them in a position to make that jump when the time is right and that may be in these first two legs or later in the Series.”
The USA Men depart in mid-September for the first two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Vancouver (Sept 18-19) and Edmonton (Sept 25-26). Singapore and Cape Town stops have been cancelled due to COVID-19 impacts while Dubai will now host two events (Nov 26-27; Dec 3-4) to mark the start of the new 2022 season.