USA Rugby Release
The year was centered around a second annual series of Talent ID Camps, with 14 camps spanning the United States over five months. In search of the next best Men’s and Women’s USA Eagles prospects, the camps were held in partnership with World Rugby, including a series of tests in a combine-style environment that creates opportunities for athletes from diverse sporting backgrounds to excel in rugby. With the annual ID tour meant to act as a marker for growing talent and opportunity for new names, USA Rugby pathways will soon confirm dates and locations for the 2023 camps, as a follow-up on the success of this past year.
Brendan Keane and the USA Rugby Men’s Pathways will host their final assembly of 2022 with the U18 and U20 Winter Camp in Chula Vista, CA. With a focus on assessment and development, and an eye toward next summer’s Junior World Trophy qualification, the group of invites will carry on with quality experience to thrive through 2023, including a hopeful summer tour for the U18s. Electing for more regional camps and competitions over the summer, the Women’s Pathways will not host an end-of-year camp this December.
USA Men’s Pathways Winter Camp | Chula Vista, CA
|First Name||Last Name||Hometown|
|Max||Amasio||Long Beach CA|
|Jacob||Bower||Orange County, CA|
|Isaiah||Caver||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Clarence||Chaney||Long Beach, CA|
|Caden||Crist||San Diego, CA|
|Kade||Cunningham||San Antonio, TX|
|Joseph||Fonua||West Valley City, UT|
|Dylan||Fortune||Chula Vista, CA|
|Chris||Giunta||Ocean City, NJ|
|Spencer||Huntley||San Diego, CA|
|Euan||Latimer||Laguna Beach, CA|
|Samuel||McMillan||Ladera Ranch, CA|
|Jeremiah||Odvina||Long Beach, CA|
|Sione||Ofa||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Matias||Sanchez Sarmiento||Houston, TX|
|Roan||Shawver||Rio Rancho, NM|
|Jordan||Vassell||Coconut Creek, FL|
|Joseph||Vavrina||Lake Forest, CA|
|Thomas||Wagner||San Diego, CA|
|Liam||Walsh||Walnut Creek, CA|
|William||Weeks||Little Rock, AR|
|Jeremy||Zwick||Long Beach CA|
USA Men’s Pathway
The USA Men’s Pathway season kicked off with a U18, U20, and U23 competition in Amsterdam as part of the Corendon Summer Tour in July. Competing against similar age-grade squads from the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and the Czech Republic, the competition created more international opportunities for USA Rugby development teams. All USA squads went nearly undefeated across the multi-week tournament.
In July, an all-encompassing combine was hosted at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, in partnership with World Rugby and Rugby Americas North. The Combine helped drive identification for the USA Rugby Academy, which would culminate in an exhibition match against the American Raptors this past fall. The USA Academy would win 31-25, behind Head Coach Shawn Pittman.
Pittman noted on the academy, “We work with an age group ranging from 17-24, where for some attendees this is the first high-performance environment they will see before embarking on their professional rugby career. We want to make a lasting impact, not only as rugby players but as people and I think we achieved both in this cycle. I’m looking forward to seeing a few of these guys in the coming years, and I do feel like we could see two or three capped with the 7s or 15s program in the next year.”
Following the USA Rugby Academy, roster selections were made to compete with the USA Men’s Falcons against Uruguay and Argentina’s select sides in Montevideo, as part of the Uruguay Conference. While the scores did not fall in the USA’s favor, multiple names stood out as the next-best Eagles in the future and quality experience was gained at a level just below the senior national team.
On the sevens side, Mike Friday and Ben Pinkelman have helped drive player development with the LA2028 Olympics in sight. In August, the Men’s Sevens program invited top prospects to Chula Vista for a two-week assembly this past summer, geared towards introducing young players to the systems and culture of a professional international sevens environment. Select invites would also return to Chula Vista for an exhibition tournament with Korea and Uruguay, alongside the senior squad as they prepared for LA7s. Top prospects would also be named to the USA Men’s U23 7s squad under Head Coach Colton Cariaga at RugbyTown 7s, where they would finish runner-up against some of the best in the world.
USA Rugby Men’s Pathways Director, Brenden Keane added, “The purpose of the Pathways is to discover, develop, and inspire tomorrow’s Eagles. Between the Talent ID camps, June USA Falcons camp, summer age-grade tour, combine, Academy, Rugbytown 7s, and Uruguay Conference, we did that this year. I have little doubt there are several future Eagles who took part in the various pathways programs this year – with a couple of U23 7s players already making their Eagle debuts. Players across all the programs should be commended for their efforts and how they represented themselves, their families, and their country this year. As we wrap the year, I’d like to acknowledge the work of the staff who dedicated significant time and energy to make these programs possible and to help the players on their journey to become their best selves on and off the field.”
USA Women’s Pathway
Led by Martha Daines, the USA Rugby Women’s Pathways began 2022 with a High-Performance Pathways development camp in late January, to help further develop players between the ages of 18-22. Led by Katie Dowty as Head Coach, the camp featured 18 athletes who worked on positional skills, group training sessions, and film reviews – all ending in a series of scrimmages for players to exercise those learnings. Among the invites was West Chester University’s Autumn Czaplicki, who has now found her way to the senior team residency for 2023. A few additional smaller sevens development camps were also held throughout the year. Giving the pathways department a solid view of talent for the upcoming development competitions, the January camp similarly made up the majority of the summer U20 roster in July. Several names also received invites to the USA Women’s Falcons roster competing at the NextGen7s in Langford, BC alongside the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event in April. Competing against two of Canada’s best women’s sevens select sides, the teams missed out on wins but did well to put their hand up for future sevens selection.
Head Coach Katie Dowty said after the tournament, “The team made incredible strides during our four days together at NextGen 7s, improving on each performance and ultimately falling just short of making the final. The players were quick to apply learnings and make adjustments. It’s been great exposure to the international game, highlighting details of skill execution and the speed of play at this level. The group came together and I’m excited to see what’s next for them.”
In June, multiple regional competitions would kick start the Women’s U23 activities, with an 8-team national competition that will be held annually. In partnership with existing rugby development programs, the competitions are an effort to regionally increase talent identification and development for athletes across both 15s and 7s. Four teams emerged from the regional qualifiers in San Francisco and Clinton, NJ, moving on to the championship in Chicago, hosted alongside the Women’s Premier League National Championship. The South Selects would defeat the Midwest Thunderbirds in the championship final.
Further in the fifteens, the Women’s U20 and U23 teams headed above the border in July for the Garnett and Gold Classic in Ottawa, ON. Rosters selected off the scouting of regional qualifiers and the June championship, both age groups faced off against two of the top rugby programs in Canada, the Queens Gaels and Ottawa Gee-Gees. While both USA squads weren’t able to come away with a win on the scoreboard, the invaluable experience of an international tour was the greatest takeaway, acting as the first time the USA U23s were able to compete internationally since 2015, and general competition since a 2019 WPL All-Star matchup.
Closing out the summer, the Women’s Pathways hosted two U18 assemblies in Santa Barbara, CA for West coast candidates and Emmitsburg, MD for those on the East coast. The primary focus for these camps was talent confirmation for those already on the USA radar, and a development camp for new young players identified through Eagle Eye Scout Network, Talent ID camps, and nominations from coaches. Roughly 60% of the players at the two camps were new to the women’s pathway. The principles of “Go Forward” and “Apply Pressure” were the focus for both camps as the young talent was initially introduced to a high-performance environment. Both camps ended with intrasquad scrimmages.
USA Women’s U18s West Camp | Santa Barbara, CA
|First Name||Last Name||Club||State|
|Emerson||Callegari||TNT Rugby Club||TX|
|Arabella||Cassidy||San Diego Mustangs||CA|
|Cassidy||Dugdale||San Diego Mustangs||CA|
|Kori||Fields||RNC Fall HS Girls Sevens||CA|
|Maya||Hilger||Land Park Harlequins||CA|
|Erica||Kissinger||North Texas Barbarians||TX|
|Neasa||McLaughlin||Morris Rugby/Rhinos Academy||NJ|
|Cecilia||Otuhiva||RNC Fall HS Girls Sevens||CA|
|Summer||Prescott||Peninsula Youth Rugby||CA|
|Venise||Sanft||Peninsula Youth Rugby||CA|
USA Women’s U18s East Camp | Emmitsburg, MD
|First Name||Last Name||Club||State|
|Rebecca||Balladares||West Carroll Marauders||MD|
|Susannah||Church||Iowa Hawkettes/Cedar Falls Rugby||IA|
|Sara (Akil)||Dougherty||Chiefs RFC||IL|
|Aseel||Jadallah||J. Sterling Morton HS||IL|
|America||Mendoza||Play Rugby USA||NY|
|Josephine||O’Donnell||Taft High School, Chicago||IL|
|Allisa||Reach||Play Rugby USA||NY|
|Kacey||Reynoso||Play Rugby USA||NY|
|Ashley||Torres-brown||Greenwich HS/Aspetuck Club||CT|
|Mary Katherine||Wilmot||North Bay||MD|
Going into 2023, the USA Women’s Pathways will look to build on the same schedule, with added competitions and more regional development opportunities, some in conjunction with senior women’s assemblies.
USA Rugby Women’s Pathways Director, Martha Daines noted at the close of 2022, “The work we did this past year is just the first step toward the pathway development opportunities we hope to offer in 2023. The return of representative rugby at the u23 level with the U23 All-Star championship not only has been met with enthusiasm but also was highly successful in meeting our goals. I’m certain we’ll see several of these players don an Eagles jersey in the not-too-distant future. At the U18 and U20 levels, we continue to find promising players who are working hard to make their mark on the game. I look forward to seeing their progress in the coming year as they continue to move through the pathway. Finally, thank you to all of the staff and community volunteers who contributed their energy, time, and creativity to provide the best possible experience and support to players in all of these programs.”