NEW YORK, NY – Following our USA RUGBY Class of 2013 Review, we huddled together in Skpe Chat Rooms and formulated – after much rucking and mauling – our 2014 USA Rugby Players To Watch. The 2014 addition – like the 2013 edition – was a team effort. Joining me was RWU contributors Nick “Bones” Attewell, our number 1 fan Grant Cole of Ruckbottom, Wendy Young of Your Scrumhalf Connection , Molly Dengler, Assistant Coach USA Women’s U-17 and Rebecca Brafman player for NYRC Women and USA Rugby.
Our selected players were noted not for their 2013 record but for what we expect them to achieve in 2014. Later this week, we will name our 2014 USA Clubs, Coaches & Administrators To Watch. Throughout January, we will do the same for Canada, Europe and SA(A)NZAR countries but to start things off, here are our 2014 USA Rugby Players To Watch:
Molly Kinsella: Molly is our Women’s Player of the Year. Last year we named a lock and this year we name a lock again. In one year at Stanford University, she made the 2012 College All-Americans, then worked on her game at Warringah Rugby (Australia) and is now with one of the top women’s clubs in England – Richmond RFC. The 6’3″ and rangy lock is a standout here for her workrate and physicality. She is not capped yet but will have a few in 2014 and be looking to make the WRWC 2014 team.
Adam Siddall: Congrats to Adam, our Mens Domestic Player of the Year. Last year we named a flyhalf… and we do the same again this year. Siddall can play flyhalf as well as inside center and fullback. He accounted himself well at fullback against the AIG New Zealand Maori in Philly in November. However, it was the injury to last year’s PoY Toby L’Strange, that opened the door to Siddall to play 10. In two games at 10 he showed promise and proved to be a spark to a stagnant attack. Now it is a question of will he remain 10 and will he be able to draw an overseas contract as he has the most reliable boot the USA has had since Mike Hercus retired.
Cam Dolan: Our Men’s Overseas Player choice was an easy and unanimous one. Cam Dolan had an impressive 2013. He represented the National team in Pacific Nations Cup, Americas Rugby Championship and November Internationals. After such an impressive year he signed with Northampton of the Aviva Premiership. When our English friends ask for some background on Dolan, we simply state that you are getting the most complete forward the USA has produced for his age. Dolan reads the game well, is not afraid to be physical and has shown he can keep up with the tempo of an international by playing the full 80.
Shaina Turley: The Women’s Sevens Player of the Year is an interesting choice. She has been playing for 8 years and has 5 caps. That seems like an awful long time for someone to now be considered on the verge of a breakout season. However, Shaina was named to the 7s player pool and also received her WCAP status. For the uninitiated, World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) is a program that allows athletes with the potential of playing in the Olympics to be stationed near where they can get the best training. This means Shaina will be stationed near the 7s training base in Chula Vista and allowed to train with the National 7s Team, while still performing their duties for Uncle Sam. This will allow the 15s backrower to improve her game drastically and give her and opportunity to feature on 7s squad.
Brett Thompson: Brett was one of many young players that burst onto the USA 7s scene last season. He was an easy choice for for Men’s Sevens Player of the Year. Class of 2013 PoY, Carlin Isles is the most talked about player by novices, but it was Thompson and Zack Test‘s performance that got the attention of 7s coaches. With Matt “Polar Bear” Hawkins now taking over and the team even newer and rawer, Thompson is now a veteran after only 2/3rd of a season on tour. However, Brett is the son of Arizona State and USA HS All-American Head Coach Salty Thompson. If there is any player that understands the responsibility and is ready to step-up, it will be Brett.
Megan Bonny: Our Women’s Young Player of the Year, has only been playing 5 years. In that time, she has a Collegiate Championship and caps for the U-20s and Collegiate All-Americans. Bonny provides the national team with a genuine finisher that has been lacking due to the growth of 7s, with many speedsters choosing the abbreviated game. In 2013 she was actually capped by both the 15s side and the 7s Eagles. We’re not sure which of the two she will pick but we are sure that it is best to keep an eye on her with or without the ball.
Kyle Sumsion: There were several college players that had outstanding an 2013. However Kyle made this list because his athleticism and physicality got the attention of USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin. He came on as a blood sub against the AIG New Zealand Maori All Blacks and promptly got knocked out a minute into the action. It was more impressive that he made the fall tour squad. At 6’2″ 240lbs, he is used as a lock in college but will most likely be shifted to blindside flanker. There is a glut of backrow talent in the US, so he will have to battle for his place. However, he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Todd Clever and that experience will serve him will going into this college season.
That’s it for now… feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.