The highly-regarded Dave Clancy has been named as the new Head Coach of the LA Giltinis Academy to develop home-grown stars of the future for the club.
The greater pulling power to attract young talent is already the first upbeat spin-off to the Giltinis’ Championship triumph in August.
“No longer are young players trying out for a start-up club, they are being drawn to try out for the No.1 rugby team in America,” Clancy said.
“I’ve seen that excitement already in the young players we’ve had at our two Talent ID camps in September.
“It’s not just having more than 80 players turn out but because a huge percentage were not on our scouting radar at all because they are returning to rugby from other sports or have been drawn to be involved at our club from elsewhere.”
Irishman Clancy, 31, has a proven track record of being able to build development programs both in the US and abroad.
He worked with the Samoan Under-20s and sevens programs and was head coach of the Cayman Islands national team after finding his thirst for coaching in his rugby-mad home town of Limerick more than a decade ago.
As Director of Rugby at the Chicago Lions for three-and-a-half years (2016-19), he nurtured Midwest Championship teams and a steady flow of players to Major League Rugby clubs.
He was appointed head coach of UCLA last year and helped out the Giltinis with rehab, strength-and-conditioning and knowledge of the American rugby scene during their successful maiden season.
“The athletic talent you see in terms of size and speed is incredible in the US. The Academy’s role is to harness that, teach good basics, educate players in game structure and add that missing component of game time,” Clancy said.
“The players we pick will be immersed in a rugby-rich environment with quality coaching staff.
“In the Giltinis’ first season we saw five or six players pulled in from local clubs to play MLR so that’s the exciting opportunity that exists.”
Flying winger Adam Channel (below) is the perfect example. He was pulled in from the local Belmont Shore Rugby Club at Long Beach, impressed in five MLR games and was signed for the 2022 season.
In broad terms, eight-to-10 senior Academy players will be identified to train around the Giltinis. Another 30 or more local players will be brought in for training camps. All will funnel into six-to-eight Academy games from late November.
“The Los Angeles area is already a hot bed for rugby. We are not going to cannibalize local clubs but we do want to help develop the most promising players from Under-18s to senior players,” Clancy said.
Clancy admitted he was studying MLR in its first few seasons to see if the competition was here to stay.
“I was looking at MLR from a distance to make sure this iteration of professional rugby could be sustained,” Clancy said.
“Having had a look inside a MLR club with the Giltinis, I saw a well-run club with a strong front office, good team culture, excellent coaching and a strong sense of sustainability.
“Being around the likes of (Giltinis head coach) Stephen Hoiles, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and so on is really going to help my development as a coach so it was a no-brainer to get on board with the Academy.”