Snape assembles WJAA camp at University of Northern Colorado

GREELEY, Colo. - USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans interim Head Coach Wil Snape has invited 35 under-20 athletes to University of Northern Colorado for a pre-Can-Am Series selection camp.

The camp will run from July 22 to July 25 alongside the USA Rugby High School Stars and Stripes Camp.

Twenty-five of the young women attended the National All-Star Competition at James Madison University last month. When the pathway structure for the women's national team was updated earlier this year, broader development and selection opportunities at all levels of the pathway came in the form of the NASC.

"The NASC was a major selection vehicle for this camp," Snape said. "The majority of players were involved at the NASC. The players played in two separate teams against one another there; they will be combining here in one squad to train together and prepare to take on Canada."

More than 200 athletes attended the NASC, which produced 17 new senior caps for the Eagles at the Women's Rugby Super Series held in Alberta this summer. The three-match tournament saw the Eagles defeat Canada, runner-up at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014, for the first time since the 2013 Nations Cup tournament in Greeley.

"I think that the squad selection for the Super Series has already proven that the Junior All-Americans is a key stepping stone to the full senior side," Snape said. "The new Women's National Team pathway was designed with that as a core principle, and the success of our WJAA program is judged on how many players become future Eagles."

"Many of the players at this camp have played at the Stars and Stripes Camp, so the pathway is there and the pathway is working."

The WJAAs will play Canada at Central Washington University Wednesday, August 19, and Saturday, August 22, supported by ATAVUS. Last year, under then-Head Coach Danielle Miller, the WJAAs traveled north of the border for a two-match Can-Am Series. Fourteen young women from that tour, including Gabriella Cantorna and Kyla Chipman of 2015 Women's Division I College National Champion Penn State, return to fight for their place on the under-20 national team.

The WJAA campers will train separately from the high school student-athletes at University of Northern Colorado, but will join the coaching staffs of both camps in setting the bar for behavior, recovery and training etiquette, and performance standards for the younger athletes.

"The players will dine together and mix," Snape said. "The understanding and example set by older players is vital for development of younger players. We saw that at the NASC, as well, with the WJAAs, WCAAs, and Eagles all together."

"As coaches, we're also working together to identify and discuss players. If a player proves they can play at an older level then they should get their chance. A few in the WJAA squad are Stars-and-Stripes-eligible players, which is great to see."

Snape has also selected capped Eagles Kate Daley and Kittery Wagner as assistant coaches for the camp and Can-Am Series. Following her stint as captain of the Eagles at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014, Daley led the Penn State Nittany Lions to National Championships in both the 15s and sevens codes in 2015.

Wagner was a member of the World Cup Eagles squad and returned from the team's sixth-place finish in France to help the Glendale Raptors capture the 2014 Women's Premier League title as starting hooker in the Final.

"Kate and Kitt are both fantastic coaches and I'm lucky to have them," Snape said. "They're both so knowledgeable and passionate; they certainly challenge me and keep me honest. The empathy and experience is essential in the development of these players."

Selections for the under-20 Can-Am Series in Washington will be made at the culmination of the camp.