One team, one goal for BHSAAs in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - USA Rugby Boys High School All-Americans Head Coach Salty Thompson has selected an assembly squad of 16 young rugby players for this week's Las Vegas Invitational in Nevada.

The BHSAAs, supported by Aircraft Charter Solutions, have won the Cup in the under-18 sevens division three times in the past five seasons - most recently in 2014. There were two American teams in the competition last year, with the first conceding the Cup to perennial British Columbia Rugby Union.

Four high school seniors - Luke Bienstock (Conn.), William Brennan (Wash.), Christian Dyer (Calif.), and Leki Fotu (Utah) - return from the 2015 team, with the LVI veterans buoyed by seven teammates that went on the 15s tour to Belgium and France last spring.

"We will work hard early this week so the 16-man squad will be narrowed to 14 on game days," Thompson said. "This also gives us a safety net if players pick up injuries in training."

Several former BHSAAs have continued their rugby careers through to the college and club games, while a select few have already been capped at the international level. BHSAA graduate Lorenzo Thomas played for the AIG Men's Junior All-Americans one week last month before making his senior debut with the Eagles in the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship the next, and longtime All-American Hanco Germishuys won his first senior cap over the weekend.

Seth Halliman was also a part of the 2014 squad that won the tournament, and will be in Las Vegas as part of one of Mike Friday's Eagles - for the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event - or Falcons in the LVI's America's Cup division.

"Seeing players such as Hanco Germishuys, Lorenzo Thomas, and Deion Mikesell as Eagles within a year or two of high school is motivating," Thompson said.

Eleven states are represented in the 16-man training group, with BHSAA alum Sim Mander the only U.S.-eligible athlete competing abroad. Joining Germishuys and Thomas last month with the MJAAs in a thrilling World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier defeat of Canada were Ruben de Haas and Fotu, who will be trying to send the All-American patch to the top of the LVI standings at Heritage Park, Silver Bowl Sports Complex, and Star Nursery Fields March 3-5.

The BHSAAs have been grouped in Pool A with a select side from the southeast - National Athletic Village Selects - Maryland Exiles, and Utah Rugby Academy. Defending tournament champion British Columbia is in Pool D.

"There's no doubt the boys will be excited to perform and achieve as a team," Thompson said. "A captain has not been named yet but we have experience and a point to prove following last year's loss to BC in the Final."

USA Rugby Boys High School All-Americans | 2016 Las Vegas Invitational

First NameLast NameGradeHeightWeight (lbs.)ClubState
LukeBienstock126'1"195Greenwich High SchoolCT
WilliamBrennan126'0"205Seattle VikingsWA
GrantBroeder125'9"183Eureka High SchoolMO
TaylorDamron125'11"170Back Bay SharksCA
Rubende Haas115'11"180Little Rock Junior StormersAR
ChristianDyer126'2"195Jesuit High School of SacramentoCA
LekiFotu126'6"250Herriman High SchoolUT
MikaeleKruse126'1"187Bullard High SchoolCA
PatrickMadden115'11"185Aztec WarriorsCA
SimMander126'1"200St. Paul's SchoolEngland
JackMiller126'1"191Brookline High SchoolMA
SohNakayama125'9"142Greenwich High SchoolCT
NoahNiumataiwalu125'9"155Archmere AcademyDE
BronsonTeles126'2"208Katy BarbariansTX
TomasiTonga126'0"205Herriman High SchoolUT
MarcosYoung115'11"165Key Biscayne RatsFL

Boys High School All-Americans | Las Vegas Invitational

v. Maryland Exiles - Friday, March 4 @ 9:20 a.m. PT

v. National Athletic Village Selects - Friday, March 4 @ noon PT

v. Utah Rugby Academy - Friday, March 4 @ 2:40 p.m. PT