Eagles Elite Training Squad Released

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Team USA pre Canada match Aug 2013For Immediate Release
Submitted by USA Rugby
April 1, 2016

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The first Eagles Elite Training Squad (EETS), incorporating more than 50 capped and non-capped U.S.-eligible athletes, has been announced.

Following the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship competition in which first-time Men’s Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell capped 24 new players in five matches, the coaching staff and high performance staff convened to enhance the program’s approach to elite athlete development.

“Congratulations to these athletes, selected to the first Eagles Elite Training Squad,” said USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby. “Now the hard part comes really, with increased accountability on the athletes to meet and dramatically improve the physical and technical standards that will be required to play at the international level for the U.S. Eagles.”

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usa_rugby_logoThe EETS will be selected biannually during the Rugby World Cup quadrennial, with athletes working day-to-day within their own professional or amateur environments to reach the Eagles standard as it relates to fitness, skills, and overall game plan. The national team strength and conditioning staff, led by Head Performance Coach Chris Brown, will monitor athletes around the world with the assistance of the players’ clubs and schools.

While a main objective of the EETS is to select teams for international tests and, eventually, matches concerning the qualification and competition of Rugby World Cups, Mitchell and the coaching staff have highlighted short- to medium-term areas of need in the player pool. These needs include aligning strength and conditioning and skill sets to the Eagles’ new style of play and approach, aligning identification and recruitment to said styles and approaches, and establishing and evolving standards and protocols.

“We are kidding ourselves if we think we are as fit as we can be, so we have to find a way to bridge our gap in 15s to realistically and authentically compete against Tier One nations,” Mitchell said. “We cannot do this without creating a model by where the players take greater ownership for targeting and raising their standards in their total distance covered and high velocity speed percentages daily. We need to find better ways to help the player implement to be in the optimal zone daily through guidance, supervision, and updating their daily work and volume.”

Athletes outside of the initial EETS are not out of contention for selections to upcoming national team assemblies and camps, and will also continue to be monitored in competition. The coaching staff hopes the players not named in the EETS will continue to rise to the challenge of representing their country on the international stage, beginning with this summer’s tests against Italy and Russia in northern California.

“The past has been very much about the inputs in test week only,” Mitchell said. “The Eagles Elite Training Squad’s intention is more about the whole of the inputs and the discipline necessary to their preparation before test week so that, in a test match preparation, we can prepare with the right intensity and training load to bring the right performance.

“In addition, this will surface the best players and raise them to the top to help us to select and create the best USA Eagles team mix for each test match while still having time to have an eye on the development of the best future talent.”

PRO_Rugby_logoPRO Rugby – the first professional rugby union competition in the United States set to kick off April 17 in Denver and Sacramento – has augmented the on-pitch hierarchy in the United States, giving on-the-cusp professional players the ability to ply their trade at the highest level domestically. Thirteen members of the first EETS – and four in the Eagles Development Training Group (EDTG) – will be playing in the competition, while 17 of the athletes are in residency at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., with the Men’s Eagles Sevens program. The upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games will remain the top priority for the sevens players in residency until their Olympic commitments have been fulfilled.

Eagles Elite Training Squad | Jan. – June 2016

Player Club/School Position
Nate Augspurger Men’s Eagles Sevens Half back
Perry Baker Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Danny Barrett Men’s Eagles Sevens Loose forward
Chris Baumann Denver (PRO) Prop
Garrett Bender Men’s Eagles Sevens Loose forward
James Bird Old Blue of New York Half back
Tom Bliss San Diego (PRO) Half back
Nate Brakeley Winged Foot – New York Athletic Club Second row
Todd Clever Newcastle Falcons (England) Loose forward
Tom Coolican San Francisco (PRO) Hooker
Cameron Dolan Cardiff Blues (Wales) Loose forward
Andrew Durutalo Sunwolves (Super Rugby) Loose forward
JP Eloff Ohio (PRO) Center
Lemoto Filikitonga Metropolis Rugby Football Club Center
Eric Fry Newcastle Falcons (England) Prop
Harry Higgins Old Blue of New York Loose forward
James Hilterbrand Manly Rugby Union Football Club Hooker
Will Holder Men’s Eagles Sevens Full back
Madison Hughes Men’s Eagles Sevens Half back
Pila Huihui San Francisco Golden Gate Wing
Luke Hume Old Blue of New York Wing
Martin Iosefo Men’s Eagles Sevens Center
Carlin Isles Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Olive Kilifi Sacramento (PRO) Prop
James King Second row
Titi Lamositele Saracens Football Club (England) Prop
Ben Landry Denver (PRO) Second row
Matai Leuta Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Chad London Denver (PRO) Center
AJ MacGinty Connacht (Ireland) Half back
Angus MacLellan Ohio (PRO) Prop
Samu Manoa RC Toulonnais (France) Second row
Al McFarland Winged Foot – New York Athletic Club Loose forward
Taku Ngwenya San Diego (PRO) Wing
Folau Niua Men’s Eagles Sevens Center
Brodie Orth Denver (PRO) Second row
Thretton Palamo Men’s Eagles Sevens Center
Greg Peterson Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) Second row
Ben Pinkelman Men’s Eagles Sevens / Denver Barbarians Loose forward
Aladdin Schirmer Central Washington University Loose forward
Blaine Scully Cardiff Blues (Wales) Wing
Andrew Suniula San Diego (PRO) Center
Shalom Suniula Men’s Eagles Sevens Half back
David Tameilau San Francisco (PRO) Loose forward
Ben Tarr Denver (PRO) Prop
Joe Taufete’e San Diego (PRO) Hooker
Mike Te’o San Diego (PRO) Full back
Zack Test Men’s Eagles Sevens Full back
Bruce Thomas San Francisco Golden Gate Loose forward
Brett Thompson Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing
Peter Tiberio Men’s Eagles Sevens Center
Stephen Tomasin Men’s Eagles Sevens Half back
Maka Unufe Men’s Eagles Sevens Wing

Eagles Development Training Group | Jan. – June 2016

Player Club/School Position
Jake Anderson San Francisco (PRO) Wing
Dylan Audsley Saint Mary’s College (D1A) Center
Demecus Beach Life University Prop
Ben Cima Rocky Gorge Half back
Hanco Germishuys Denver (PRO) Hooker
Alec Gletzer San Francisco (PRO) Loose forward
Seth Halliman Men’s Eagles Sevens / Central Washington University Full back
Kalei Konrad San Diego (PRO) Half back
Jope Motokana Sacramento (PRO) Half back
Deion Mikesell Lindenwood University (D1A) Wing
Christian Ostberg Stade Aurillac (France) Second row
Lorenzo Thomas Lindenwood University (D1A) Center

About USA Rugby
Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 100,000 active members, with more than 35,000 playing collegiate rugby and 35,000 playing senior club rugby. USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members. In October 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced Rugby Sevens (the seven-a-side version of the game) will appear in the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Visit www.usarugby.org for more information.

Further Information:
Nick Sero | Manager, Digital Media and Communications | USA Rugby | nsero@usarugby.org

About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.