Taranaki Rugby to partner with USA Rugby

NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand – Taranaki Rugby announced Thursday a new partnership with USA Rugby to help continue to grow rugby stateside and provide international opportunities for both organizations.

The partnership will see American players and coaches travel to Taranaki to immerse themselves in New Zealand rugby culture, with the first wave of players to arrive at the home of the reigning ITM Cup Champions, Port Taranaki Bulls, in August to work under the expert coaching structure of the Taranaki Rugby high performance team.

Players will be selected from USA Rugby Eagles or age-grade national teams; or athletes now entering the USA Rugby high performance training programs having had outstanding performance in club and collegiate competition this spring, at the National Tracking Camps, as well as the upcoming Men’s Junior and Collegiate Stars and Stripes Camp.

More than 430 players were tested in the USA Rugby National Tracking Camps this season, enabling national team selectors to assess numerous young emerging-elite athletes who may project to become future Eagles and Olympians. The best of these players will be selected for the eight-week immersion with the Taranaki NPC Development team.

The partnership, which includes opportunities in the NPC development team for male athletes, as well as future opportunities in the women’s sevens provincial development team, will see players train at the world-class facilities offered at Yarrow Stadium and utilize the knowledge and experience of the Port Taranaki Bulls coaches. In addition to player exchanges, other areas to be covered include coach mentoring and development in both codes of rugby union: 15s and sevens.

“It is exciting to form this relationship with USA Rugby,” Taranaki Rugby Chief Executive Officer Michael Collins said. “Recent results suggest that USA Rugby is a growing force in sevens and 15s and it is great that Taranaki Rugby can assist in their development.”

“Full-time immersions in one of the rugby hotbeds will afford some of our best young athletes and crossovers an accelerated path into the professional game,” said USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby. “As the game grows stateside, it is important we continue to reach out and collect IP from the best rugby areas in the world to bring back home to augment the strength of the American scholastic-sport model and our other development pathways.”

USA Rugby’s representative on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the Men’s Eagles Sevens, won the first Cup in the union’s history at Marriott London Sevens. Less than a month later, the U.S. qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games at the 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships.

New Zealand made a sizable impact on the American rugby landscape last fall when the Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks played their first international test in the United States since 1980 with a sold-out crowd of 61,500 watching from the stands at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Eagles lost the match, but were pushed to improved performances during the remaining fall schedule, while a busy summer consisting of seven matches will set up the team for success at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.