NEW YORK, NY– While the start of a new year brings much to look forward to, it’s also a good time to look back a bit. So, before we roll out our Class of 2014 later this week, let’s breakdown our USA Rugby Class of 2013 Review and see if our predictions were correct.
Rosie “R2” Miesner: R2 had a mixed season. She had a few nagging injuries and it affected her ability to stay healthy and contribute. This led to her not being at her best and able to push on from her achievements from 2012. We expect her to comeback in 2014 at her best, while playing with the New York Rugby Club.
Toby L’Strange: After a solid fall 2012, Toby earned the nickname L’Sigh after poor to underwhelming performances during an 0-7 run by Team USA, not counting the 2-1 record during the ARC. In the final game of that streak against the AIG New Zealand Maori All Blacks, in which he was playing well, L’Strange went out injured. He won’t return from injury until February and as productive as Adam Siddall has been at 10 in his absence, he may be relegated to bench.
Derek Asbun: Mr. Asbun loves his education. After attending Cal-Berkeley and starring in rugby, he moved on to Oxford University and developed his game there before playing for the University of Cape Town in 2013. He played well enough to earn a spot on the USA team for the November Tours. Derek didn’t start but he showed good form when he came on and has put himself in the backrow mix for the side going forward.
Akalaini “Bui” Baravilala: Bui had a hot start to the season on the IRB Womens 7s World Series. She was expected to press on from there and be a force with her speed and game-changing ability. However, she was unable to really press on and stalled. She was in the selection pool for the RWC7s team but didn’t make the final squad. We expect her to get over this stall and push on in 2014.
Carlin Isles: Wow! What a year Carlin has had. After the fastest man in Rugby video got over a million views and he became a viral YouTube sensation, things picked up even more. He became the poster child for the 7s program doing several interviews and videos. However as a rugby player on the pitch teams started to adjust to his speed and he was attacked on defense. He was the face of the program but struggling for gametime. His notoriety brought him and opportunity to tryout for the Detroit Lions of the NFL. As our own D.J. Eberle reported Isles was successful in securing a contract and a spot on the practice squad. Even after the Lions head coach got fired he was still given a practice squad contract for the 2014 season. However he tweeted that he still planned to play in the Las Vegas 7s, which is great to hear. We will keep you updated on his latest moves.
Amelia “Meya” Bizer: Our 2013 Young Player of the year was named the RUGBYMag 2013 Women’s College Player of the Year. This season she played for Penn State, the USA 7s Eagles, the Junior All-Americans, to the 15s Eagle. She never looked out of place and was a standout performer for all the sides, she represented. It just a matter of choice for her whether she wants to represent the Eagles in 7s or 15s.
Otusia Tupouata: Last year we said Otusia reminded us of Thretton Palamo. Unfortunately for USA Rugby fans, Tupouata did exactly that and joined the Utah football team to play defensive end. We wish him the best of luck and hope that if things don’t work out he will find his way back to the rugby field.
American International College: The program had an outstanding season. They had a solid regular season going 5-2. Their losses were to powerhouses Army and Norwich. Their record helped them qualify for the first ever ACRA (American College Rugby Association) playoffs. It was in the playoffs that they really made people take notice. They shutout Brown 34-0 in the round of 16 and then in the quarterfinals gave Norwich a scare. In the regular season Norwich won 39-19, but in the playoff game Norwich just managed to scrap by 19-15. They earned the respect of national rugby fans and made all on-lookers take notice.
Lindenwood (MO.) University: In 2013 Lindenwood left the Division I-AA Heart of America conference and was promoted to Division I-A to compete in the Mid-South conference. To make them more competitive for this move, they hired former Fijian international Seru Rabeni. As for the season, they made the I-AA final before losing to Central Florida. They seemed to have qualified for the I-A playoffs. They also finished 7th at the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships.
WOMEN: The Atlanta Harlequins had an interesting 1st season in the Womens Premier League. They went 1-5 in the regular season. This put them in the bottom 4 of the 8 teams in the WPL. In the national playoffs to decide final standings in the WPL, the Harlequins found their mojo and defeated the San Diego Surfers 24-12 and New York Rugby Club 22-14, to claim 5th place. That position essentially makes them the best team not to make the WPL playoffs. It was a solid first year and a great foundation toward continued success.
MEN: The Sacramento Lions finished 2nd in the Northern California RFU Mens Division 1. They finished behind USA Rugby domestic giants San Francisco-Golden Gate. They went 7-3 and played with purpose. Unfortunately for the Lions in the National Playoffs round of 32, they ran into the another stalwart on the men’s rugby scene in OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club), whom they lost to 37-27. To even hang that close with OMBAC shows the potential of this side.
WOMEN: Ric Suggitt, the coach of the USA Womens 7s Team, had a very impressive 2013. The program finished fourth in the first season of the inaugural IRB Womens Sevens Series. They followed up that success with by finishing 3rd in the RWC7s. As Suggitt continues to find new talent and develop it, the program has incredible potential.
MEN: Evan Haigh of Old Pudget Sound Beach is no longer be in the Seattle area. He currently serves as the Director of Coaching & Programming at Serevi Rugby and resides in the Orlando, Florida area.
COLLEGE COACH: Eric Taber served as an assistant coach for the Wheeling Jesuit University (of W. Va.) rugby team and was also promoted to Director of Sports Media . On the field, WJU went just 2-6. Though that record is not impressive, they were playing powerhouses like Michigan, Penn State and Davenport, so it was an ambitious schedule for a young program and they can only get better.
Paid Administrator: The role continues to be effective and looks to be gaining momentum. Its success is hard to judge but the people at USA Rugby seem happy with it and so it will continue.
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.