WellDog sponsoring Australian tour for AIG MCAAs

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - The USA Rugby AIG Men's Collegiate All-Americans will embark on a competitive two-week trip to the southern hemisphere this summer as part of the 2016 USA Rugby AIG Men's Collegiate All-American Tour to Queensland sponsored by WellDog, in conjunction with Queensland Rugby Union.

In the spirit of the early-20th century All-American teams that toured in support of the game of Rugby Union, a selection of some of the top domestic collegiate players as well as a few of the exciting younger players in the national team pathway will assemble under Head Coach Gavin Hickie on the west coast in late July prior to heading to Australia.

'Down Under,' the team will play three matches against Darling Downs select side, Brothers Rugby Football Club's premier side, and Queensland Country's National Rugby Championship team.

"It is an exciting and challenging tour," USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby said. "Our best 23-year-olds and younger will be tested throughout, which is what this age-band needs to help accelerate towards impactful performances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and, hopefully, be the core that carries the Eagles through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

"WellDog has been instrumental in giving our best student-athletes and emerging elite players this opportunity."

WellDog's support of the All-American program in the past year has seen the institution of a Men's Junior and Collegiate Stars and Stripes Camp for coaching staffs of the AIG Men's Junior All-Americans and AIG Men's Collegiate All-Americans, as well as the latter's sevens team, to better work with the greater talent pool of under-23-eligible athletes.

Much like now-capped Men's Eagles and PRO Rugby players Jake Anderson and David Tameilau, who attended last year's Stars and Stripes Camp in northern California, All-Americans selected for the Queensland Tour may receive immersion opportunities with National Rugby Championship (Australia) and National Provincial Championship (New Zealand) clubs at the culmination of the Tour.

"Not only are these opportunities crucial to the development of future Eagles, with a favorable return on investment, we're strengthening the bonds between USA Rugby and rugby institutions in the great rugby nations like Australia and New Zealand," Magleby said. "These partnerships assist in growing the sport of rugby globally as well as allowing each country's athletes to experience the multicultural aspect of the game."

Student-athletes that have toured with the AIG MCAAs in the past 15 years make up more than 50 percent of Men's Eagles test caps in that time frame, while other standouts such as Madison Hughes and Stephen Tomasin are currently on a path to represent the United States in Rugby Sevens' Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games debut this summer.

Honorary Men's Collegiate All-American, Honorable Mention All-American, and Sevens All-American teams will be announced in June, encompassing student-athletes performing at the best of their abilities at the country's top post-secondary institutions and at National Tracking Camps.