Tigertown welcomes National All-Star Competition

LAKELAND, Fla. - Two-hundred and fifteen athletes in the Women's National Team Pathway are convening at Tigertown in southern Florida Monday, Dec. 28, through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, for the National All-Star Competition.

The largest assembly of female rugby athletes is the third in a year following the update of the Pathway, with the first helping the coaching staffs of the senior Eagles and AIG Women's Junior All-Americans with selections for the inaugural Women's Rugby Super Series and two-match series with Canada's under-20 side, respectively.

"This will be the best gathering of domestic women's rugby players ever," Women's Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. "We have spent the last year focused on player identification and almost all the players have been seen at an NASC or a national championship event.

"The winter NASC is the foundation of the women's pathway. Moving forward, this annual event will be where the national team pools for the year will be selected."

While the 2016 competition schedules for the women's national teams are still been finalized, two of the NASC's overall goals are identifying athletes for the greater Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 and Women's Eagles Sevens player pools. Steinberg and Dr. Jules McCoy, head coach of the sevens program at the United States Olympic Committee's Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., have worked together to ensure the pathway for athletes playing in either or both codes is clear and reachable.

Wil Snape led the WJAAs to a sweep of their Canadian counterparts at Central Washington University over the summer before a few athletes from that squad stepped up to the AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans Sevens team under Michigan's Brandon Sparks at Elite City Sevens. Both teams' coaches will be confirmed in the new year, but Snape and Sparks will be in attendance in Florida to provide the young athletes with their experiences on the international stage and the coaches with their athlete recommendations.

Five athletes from the OTC will be in attendance - though none that traveled to Dubai for the opening round of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series - while more than 100 of the attendees are currently playing college-level rugby.

In all, the 215 athletes will be split into eight competitive teams - two under-20s, two under-23s, and four senior - to be coached by participants of the Emerging Coach Development Program. Each coach will work with current Women's National Team Pathway lead coaches throughout the camp.

Following the NASC in Florida, a senior-only assembly will be held prior to a planned-for July Super Series, with those dates to be determined.

"The preliminary World Cup squad for 2017 will be selected at the NASC," Steinberg said. "A squad of around 45 will be identified and will begin to follow the Eagles' strength and conditioning and skill development programming. They will be invited back with a few additional players to a senior NASC that will lead to the Super Series in the summer."

National All-Star Competition | Athletes