USA Rugby High School All-Americans Embark on South American Tour

DALLAS, Texas -- The USA Rugby High School All-Americans (HSAAs) assembled in Dallas on July 10 before leaving on a challenging five-game, twenty-day tour of three South American countries. The 32-player squad will begin their test matches in Vina del Mar and Santiago, Chile, continuing on to Montevideo, Uruguay, and finishing their tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The tour is made possible by the generous support of Aircraft Charter Solutions, the HSAA title sponsor.

The HSAA squad is made up of thirteen seniors, thirteen juniors and six sophomores from 11 U.S. states. Three overseas Americans are on the squad from England. Twelve players competed for the HSAA Junior Varsity U17s in England last April, while six played in the England Schools National Sevens at Rosslyn Park.

HSAA Head Coach Salty Thompson is looking forward to the experience this will bring the young squad. "We're playing five internationals in foreign countries to really take them out of their comfort zones, expose them to high level of play, and in an environment that only an international can bring," Thompson said.

The squad was selected by the HSAA staff by recruiting the players at regional all-star events, camps and tournaments. "We're building for the present and the future with our selections of senior, juniors and sophomores," Thompson said. "We want to keep filtering significant groups to the U20s and hopefully create future Eagles. It's a relatively young squad."

The senior class includes Nu'u Aiava (Keauka'a Sharks), a versatile back that captained the HSAA 7s in Las Vegas and England. His 7s teammates Sam Peri (Lamorinda), Anthony Salaber (Dixon) and Vili Toluta'u (Mana O Maui) turn their focus to the full game at 6, 15 and 7 respectively.

Gonzaga teammates Joe Whalen (lock) and Andrew Iscaro, (hooker and 7) make their HSAA debuts, along with Codi Jones (hooker) and Tama Paogofie (eight), Isaiah Chinen (scrum-half), Greg Wood (center), Zach Bonte (flanker), and Levi Kinney (loose-head prop).

The HSAA juniors are an experienced group. Andy Sandoval (Los Angeles Cougars) toured South Africa last summer, while Bradley Luvender, Oliver Drew, Billy Maggs, Matteo Salvalaggio, Titi Lamositele, Zach Webber and Bradley Shaw all represented the HSAAs in either the England Schools Sevens or the U17 International Tournament. Newcomers include former Auckland Grammar School flanker Nick Gadbaw, Joe Kelly (center) from Greenwich H.S., Tyler Norris (prop) from Katy, Texas, and Inoke Raikadroka, a South Bay Youth Rugby Spartan from Carson, Calif.

The sophomores include the half-back pairing of Michael Reid (Warrenton) and Benjamin Cima (Gonzaga). Reid is on his third HSAA tour, while Cima makes his debut at fly-half along with Utah United's Calvin Whiting. Sophomores Fitou Fisiiahi, at center, and Kelepi Fitita, at tight-head prop, caught the eyes of Saracens, Worcester, Northampton and Leicester Tigers during the U17 tour, along with junior prop Lamositele.

The coaching staff is led by Salty Thompson and assistants Michael Engelbrecht (attack), Jason Payne (defense), and Paule Barford. Andy Byrne manages the tour, with Anne Micinski as the tour trainer.

USA Rugby HSAA South American Tour Schedule

Sunday, July 15

HSAAs vs. Chile U19s

Vina del Mar, Chile

Wed. July 18

HSAAs vs. Chile U19s

Santiago, Chile

Sat. July 21

HSAAs vs. Uruguay U19s

Montevideo, Uruguay

Wed. July 25

HSAAs vs. Uruguay U19s

Montevideo, Uruguay

Sat. July 28

HSAAs vs. Argentina U18s

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Last Name First Position 2012 HS Class
Aiava Nuulaiti Utility Back Senior
Anitema Solomone Prop Senior
Bonte Zach Flanker Senior
Chinen Isaiah Scrum-half Senior
Cima Benjamin Fly-half Sophomore
Drew Oliver Lock/six Junior
Fifita Kelepi Prop Sophomore
Fisiiahi Fitou Center Sophomore
Gadbaw Nick Flanker Junior
Harr Stuart Lock Junior
Iscaro Andrew Hooker/flanker Senior
Jones Codi Hooker Senior
Kelly Joseph Center Junior
Kinney Levi Prop Senior
Lamositele Titi Prop Junior
Luvender Bradley Lock Junior
Maggs Billy Center Junior
Mander Jesse Wing Sophomore
Norris Tyler Prop Junior
Paogofie Tama Eight Senior
Peri Sam Flanker Senior
Raikadroka Inoke Prop Junior
Reid Michael Scrum-half Sophomore
Salaber Anthony Full-back Senior
Salvalaggio Matteo Flanker Junior
Sandoval Andy Hooker Junior
Shaw Bradley Wing Junior
Toluta'u Vili Kihe Flanker Senior
Webber Zach Center Junior
Whalen Joe Lock Senior
Whiting Calvin Fly-half Sophomore
Wood Greg Center Senior