HSAAs win scrimmage in preparation for Wellington Festival

UPDATE April 5: Despite a valiant performance, the USA Rugby Boys' High School All-Americans U17s lost to England South Friday 32-25 at the RFU Wellington College International Rugby Festival. Salty Thompson's team gave up an early try but managed to keep up with their opponent in the first half, only down 20-15 after the first frame. As the HSAAs were making a comeback in the second half, England South took advantage of a HSAA player in the sin bin and extended the lead to 32-18. The HSAAs scored another try a few minutes later, but ultimately ran out of time.

UPDATE April 2: The USA Rugby Boys' High School All-Americans U17s lost to Wales U16 45-16 on Saturday, March 30, before defeating Belgium 21-10 on Monday, April 1. The HSAAs had lost to Belgium in their previous two meetings. Up next for the HSAAs is England South on Friday, April 5.

CROWTHORNE, England -- The USA Rugby Boys’ High School All-Americans under 17s have gathered at Wellington College, ready to compete in the RFU Wellington College International Rugby Festival, which features U16 National Teams from Wales, Scotland, England North, England South, and U17s from Belgium, the Netherlands and the USA. All teams are in residence at the exclusive private school in Berkshire, an hour west of London.

The HSAA Junior Varsity starts the tournament Saturday, March 30, against the rugby powerhouse nation of Wales (4.00pm kick-off). This is followed with games against Belgium Monday, April 1, and England South Friday, April 5.

All-Americans Head Coach Salty Thompson will be looking to build on the reputation and performances they produced last year, giving the Welsh a hard game and running England North extremely close. This year promises much of the same if the games live up to their potential.

The HSAA squad totals thirty-one players, born in 1996 and 1997, with nine sophomores, twenty juniors, and two seniors. Seven players return from last year’s U17s, namely Bruce Yun (Wilson H.S. and Belmont Shore) at prop, Malcolm May (Ignatius H.S. Chicago) at lock, Hanco Germishuys (Westside H.S. Omaha, Nebraska) at flanker, ‘Junior’ Helu (Hayward Griffins) at scrum-half, Cian Barry (Epsom College) at fly-half and full-back; Sione Masoe (Back Bay) at flanker, and Brendan Cleary, (Queen Elizabeth School and Newcastle Falcons Academy) at outside center.

“This returning core of players are helping provide the leadership and example on and off the field,” said Thompson. “They are fitter, stronger and bigger than last year.”

The HSAAs, sponsored by Aircraft Charter Solutions, arrived on Sunday and played a scrimmage game against Hampshire U17s Wednesday afternoon. Early exchanges saw the USA dominate the first half and jump to a 26-point lead, with two tries from Poch Suwaiter (Hilo, Hawaii) and one from Mosoe. Ben Cima (Gonzaga H.S. Washington D.C.) added one conversion and three penalties to the score. The second half started off in much the same vain with the USA stretching their lead with a try from the increasingly impressive Yun. Barry added the conversion.

For three quarters of the match, the HSAAs dominated, but as the USA started to ring the changes in the line up they lost momentum and Hampshire launched an impressive fight-back, running in four unanswered converted tries before Barry added a penalty goal to close out the game at 36 to 33.

The game was exactly what the USA needed in preparation for the festival, which will be a great chance for the young Americans to experience an international competition and square off with some of the rising stars in Europe. Gaining match experience and training in a high performance environment is a key objective in the development of the HSAAs and in the development of the future national teams.

The HSAA Coaching and Management team is committed to the off-field development as much the on-field development of the young men on the team, recognizing that the tournament will be an experience the players will never forget and hopes the athletes will take away great rugby and life lessons from the tournament.

Follow Team Manager Andy Byrne on Twitter (@AndyPByrne) for live updates from Wellington.

Boys' High School All-Americans | RFU Wellington College International Rugby Festival

Lopeti AiseaSophomore6'0"259Lincoln CardinalLincoln
Cameron AppelJunior5'7"161GuildfordRoyal Grammar
Cian BarryJunior5'6"135Reeds WeybridgeEpsom College
Steven BranhamSophomore5'11"202FallbrookFallbrook
Benjamin CimaJunior5'11"167GonzagaGonzaga
Brendan ClearyJunior5'9"160Newcastle FalconsQueen Elizabeth
Hanco GermishuysJunior5'11"195Westside High SchoolWestside
Zach HaleySophomore5'11"195Hopkins RoyalsHopkins
Ryan HedumJunior5'11"210Christian BrothersChristian Brothers
Travis HeerSophomore6'0"190Back BayHuntington Beach
Aluana HeluJunior5'11"215Hayward GriffensJames Logan
Brock JohnsonJunior6'1"180RenegadesWillowbrook
Sione MasoeJunior5'11"170Back BayGarden Grove
Aaron MatthewsSophomore5'8"170Back BayJ Sierra Catholic
Malcolm MaySenior6'1"195IgnatiusIgnatius
Aaron MitchellJunior6'1"259Cathedral, San DiegoCathedral
Brendan MurphyJunior6'2"190Kona BullsMakua Lani Christian
Brian NaultSophomore6'2"210Sheldon SavagesSheldon
Darien PickettJunior5'10"225Fort HuntWest Potomac
Suwaiter PochJunior6'0"220Hilo ReignWaiakea High School
Torran RabySophomore6'1"270MustangsTorrey Pines
Maxime RemesySenior6'3"225OrlandoDr. Phillips
Cecil RichJunior6'1"260PridePerry Street Prep
Ian RichardsJunior5'10"220Penn HSPenn HS
Jimmy RonanJunior5'7"151GonzagaGonzaga
Patrick SoedeJunior5'11"189CobhamAmerican School Cobham
Joeli TikoisuvaJunior5'10"175Sacramento IslandersRosemont
Jerome VeveSophomore6'0"211Gold Coast TitansPalm Beach Currumbin
Nolan WilliamsJunior5'9"165Dixon RugbyDixon
Bruce YunJunior5'10"268Belmont ShoreWilson HS
Cian WynneSophomore6'2"182WallingfordCherwell