Domestic clubs well represented among Eagles vying for June test rosters

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - The vast majority of the 29 players remaining in the Men's Eagles camp ahead of this month's test matches against Italy and Russia have spent time crafting their game in America's club rugby competition.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Eagle hopefuls have represented clubs from either the American Rugby Premiership, Pacific Rugby Premiership, or from the best domestic team not in one of those two competitions - Seattle Saracens.

Two players hoping to crack Saturday's team sheet for the June 18 test again Italy have pledge their allegiance to Seattle. Shalom Suniula and Peter Tiberio, who helped Seattle win a Club 7s National Championship in 2014, are more known for their time with the Men's Eagles Sevens, but have been called in by head coach John Mitchell to compete for a position in the back line of the 15s squad.

Olive Kilifi and Ben Landry have also spent time with the Saracens. Neither are currently in camp, as Kilifi was released to rejoin the Sacramento Express, while Landry was unavailable due to his ongoing tryout with the Seattle Seahawks, but both Seattle men hope to earn additional caps in the future.

The east coast's elite club competition, the ARP, is indeed well represented at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. - where the Eagles are training ahead of its contest against Italy. Players from 2015 Division I National Semifinalist Old Blue of New York were in demand following the team's successful season. Americas Rugby Championship standouts James Bird and Luke Hume have been called back, while Old Blue's Harry Higgins is seeking his first cap. Nate Augspurger has looked good with the sevens team on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and is definitely in the mix for the Olympics. Still, the Old Blue half back has been given a chance to cross codes before turning his focus back to Rio.

It is not only Old Blue's active roster that is flying with the Eagles, but one of their coaches and former players, too. Marty Veale, Old Blue's head coach, has been retained by the Eagles coaching staff following the work he did throughout the Americas Rugby Championship.

Old Blue's rival, New York Athletic Club, will recognize a few faces in camp with the Eagles. Absent from Mitchell's call-up are 2015 Rugby World Cup and NYAC players Al McFarland, Mike Petri and John Quill. The 'AC' is still a presence in the current Eagle makeup with Nate Brakeley in camp. And do not forget about newly-crowned Pro12 champion AJ MacGinty. Before winning National Championships with Life University, the Eagle fly half wore the red and white kit of NYAC.

The PRP's Belmont Shore has a long history of providing the Men's National Team with players ready for international duty. That tradition continues with youngsters Joe Taufete'e and Mike Te'o in solid position to earn playing time over the next two weeks.

Champions of the PRP, the Glendale Raptors, have one if their best in camp - Chad London. The outside center and current Denver Stampede line-breaker played well during the Americas Rugby Championship, and could be in line for a starting nod against Italy.

Even though Todd Clever has played professionally in both the northern and southern hemispheres, he has always had a soft spot in his heart for Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, which is why the Eagles' second all-time leader in caps even suited up with OMBAC last year between stints with the NTT Shining Arcs of Japan's Top League and the English Premiership's Newcastle Falcons.

OMBAC's most famous player is not the only one with the Eagles. Uncapped in 15s, Stephen Tomasin has worn the red, white, and blue for the sevens team. Based out of southern California as a contracted athlete at the Olympic Training Center, Tomasin has graced OMBAC's back line on a number of occasions.

Then there is Chris Baumann. The nine-test prop has been a bit of a club rugby nomad since his college days at the University of Wyoming. Prior to earning his first cap during last summer's Pacific Nations Cup, Baumann fine-tuned his game with Glendale, Life, Los Angeles Rugby, NYAC, Santa Monica Dolphins, Steamboat Springs, and the Tempe Old Devils. Most recently, he was propping for 2015 and 2016 National Championship finalists Austin Blacks before signing a contract with PRO Rugby's Denver Stampede.

Even Takudzwa Ngwenya played domestic club rugby before his breakout 2007 Word Cup campaign earned him a contract with Biarritz, where he's scored 82 tries since. Not long after Ngwenya moved to America, the now-San Diego Breaker winger accustomed himself to club rugby through Dallas Athletic.

Be sure to watch all of these current and former domestic club players in action when the Eagles attempt to seize their first Tier I scalp against Italy June 18 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The first of two June test fixtures for the Men's Eagles will kick off at 6 p.m. PT, and air live on The Rugby Channel.