Eagles announced for Americas Rugby Championship 2017
With the Qualifiers coming close, we are looking for the individuals whose talent is connected to the team first and committed to raising his standards each week. We want to continue to grow our style of football we implemented in 2016.John Mitchell, USA Men's Eagles Head Coach
UPDATE (2/14): Ryan Matyas will remain with the team for the entirety of the tournament. He was originally scheduled for only our North American schedule.
UPDATE (2/9): Newcastle Falcons have made Nick Civetta available for the week three matchup with Canada.
UPDATE (2/7): Deion Mikesell has been called into camp as an injury replacement, replacing Zack Test. Mikesell will join the Men's Eagles for their week two matchup against Brazil.
UPDATE (1/30): BYU has granted Lock Matt Jensen the opportunity to join the Men's Eagles camp and be available for the week one match against Uruguay. He will return to school immediately after the match. Jensen replaces Siaosi Mahoni who will miss week one due to a lower body injury.
LAFAYETTE, Colo. - Men's Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell has called on 35 players to be available for the five matches of this year's Americas Rugby Championship, beginning in San Antonio Saturday, Feb. 4.
Todd Clever - all-time caps leader for the United States - is one of 17 athletes that will travel from Texas to Canada and South America across the five match weeks of the ARC. He and Blaine Scully, one of seven overseas professionals in the extended squad, will continue to serve the Eagles as co-captains. Nine selected will have the opportunity to earn debut caps against North and South America's top rugby nations in a competition in which the U.S. finished second a year ago.
"The important thing is to connect as a team and play well to put ourselves in the position to win the ARC," Mitchell said. "That's the aim: to win the tournament. A five-week competition is a huge ask for amateur players, but we obviously have got a close eye on Rugby World Cup Qualifiers selections, as well.
"Ultimately, at the end of the day, this assembly will be about how this team connects as one and enhances the individuals' future opportunities with the national team."
Fifteen members of the extended ARC squad earned international test honors against Romania and Tonga during the recent November Tour, while a further three trained with the team during "The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG" and the remaining weeks of the assembly. Bryce Campbell and Dino Waldren were capped in Europe, with 2016 AIG Men's Collegiate All-Americans teammates Matt Jensen, Alex Maughan, and Calvin Whiting eligible to wear the U.S. jersey next month.
Young fly halves Ben Cima and Will Magie have extensive All-American backgrounds themselves. Cima kicked an infamously-long penalty kick to seal the U.S.'s entry into the 2016 World Rugby U20 Trophy four years after the Magie-captained AIG Men's Junior All-Americans won the tournament in Salt Lake City. They will benefit from the presence of AJ MacGinty through the Feb. 4 match against Uruguay before taking the No. 10 reigns into the matchups with Brazil, Canada, Chile, and Argentina XV, respectively.
"About half of the guys are familiar with our weekly periodization, which is going to help," Mitchell said. "We grew in 2016; the weekly periodization allowed us to, eventually, play 80 minutes of football and play at a high tempo and at an improved high speed. The newer guys will get used to the constant and replicated routine. They'll be challenged in terms of embracing new ideas, learning, installing, and training and playing at a high intensity. A lot of these guys will be challenged in terms of getting on the same page and having the discipline to stay on what we do in terms of the way we play.
"We currently don't have a centralized program like Argentina, Canada, and Uruguay, which is what we're up against. The one constant we do have is the way we train. We actually get better, physically, throughout the assembly."
Shaun Davies joins Nate Augspurger in the fight for the No. 9 shirt having trained with the Eagles prior to last year's Summer Series. Mike Te'o has also been capped at scrum half, and offers flexibility in the back line along with returning Eagles Luke Hume, Ryan Matyas, and Zack Test. Ohio Aviators wing Aaron Davis is in line for his first cap, as well, having led PRO Rugby in try-scoring despite being scouted at last year's ARC as a loose forward.
Only 26 players are permitted to attend training sessions in a given match week, forcing the team's hands in terms of player availability. While MacGinty and Scully are eligible for just the first match of the tour, overseas professionals Cam Dolan, James Hilterbrand, Tony Lamborn, and David Tameilau will each be available to Mitchell for at least three match days. Nick Civetta will also be with the team in Texas before returning to England.
"We diminish in terms of experience, but it becomes more of a developmental squad after Canada," Mitchell said, referring to the Feb. 18 fixture in British Columbia. "You can't get all of the overseas professionals for five weeks and it's unfair on amateurs to find this time, as well. At the end of the day, the early objective in 2017 is to select the best squad mix of 30 players to play against Canada in the Qualifiers.
"There will be a big emphasis on decision-making and problem-solving in this competition. The biggest lesson we learned in 2016 is that individuals need to take greater ownership for learning and also nailing down their job role earlier in the week to perform on game day. It is necessary to get everything right each day because that leads into the next, so it's important to fix it and learn quickly."
In addition to the return of young props Demecus Beach, Olive Kilifi, and Ben Tarr, assistant coach Marty Veale and the Eagles will welcome back Anthony Purpura to the national team setup. The front-rower earned his sole cap in 2010, and has been playing with Boston Rugby Club to make his international return.
Eight Rugby World Cup veterans are included in the extended squad, which consists of a total of 270 caps and an average player age of 25.
"With the Qualifiers coming close, we are looking for the individuals whose talent is connected to the team first and committed to raising his standards each week," Mitchell said. "We want to continue to grow our style of football we implemented in 2016. We are enthusiastic about having a greater presence on our opposition through becoming a four-try-plus-threat test team regardless of whom we play. We presented ourselves plenty of opportunities to achieve the above metric against opponents in 2016, but we let ourselves down too often by being selfish on the ball and not passing earlier to optimize our situation. We made some good gains in attack, but we still haven't met our offensive and defensive goals."
The Eagles' Americas Rugby Championship campaign kicks off Feb. 4 in San Antonio and in Austin Feb. 11 prior to away matches in Canada Feb. 18, Chile Feb. 25, and Argentina March 4. All of the U.S.'s matches in the ARC will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel. The extended squad is subject to change throughout the assembly.
USA Men's Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship 2017
|Nate Augspurger||Old Blue of New York||/ / / /|
|Chris Baumann||Denver Stampede||/ / / /|
|Demecus Beach||Old Blue of New York / Ohio Aviators||/|
|Nate Brakeley||New York Athletic Club||/ /|
|Bryce Campbell||Indiana University||/ / / /|
|Ben Cima*||Rocky Gorge Rugby Football Club||/ / / /|
|Nick Civetta||Newcastle Falcons||/ /|
|Todd Clever||Austin Huns||/ / / /|
|Shaun Davies||Glendale Raptors / Ohio Aviators||/ / / /|
|Aaron Davis*||Columbus Rugby Club / Ohio Aviators||/ / / /|
|Cameron Dolan||Cardiff Blues||/ / /|
|JP Eloff||Chicago Lions / Ohio Aviators||/ / / /|
|Hanco Germishuys||Austin Huns||/|
|James Hilterbrand||Manly Rugby||/ / / /|
|Luke Hume||Old Blue of New York||/|
|Matthew Jensen*||Brigham Young University||/ /|
|Olive Kilifi||Seattle Saracens / Sacramento Express||/ /|
|Tony Lamborn||Hawke's Bay Magpies||/ / / /|
|AJ MacGinty||Sale Sharks|
|Will Magie*||Glendale Raptors / Denver Stampede||/ / / /|
|Siaosi Mahoni*||Life West / San Francisco Rush||/ / / /|
|Peter Malcolm*||Wheeling Jesuit University / Ohio Aviators||/ / / /|
|Ryan Matyas||Old Blue of New York||/ / / /|
|Alex Maughan*||Life University||/|
|Al McFarland||New York Athletic Club||/|
|Deion Mikesell||Lindenwood University|
|Anthony Purpura||Boston Rugby Club||/ / / /|
|John Quill||Glendale Raptors / Sacramento Express||/ /|
|Blaine Scully||Cardiff Blues|
|David Tameilau||RC Narbonne / San Francisco Rush||/ /|
|Ben Tarr||Glendale Raptors / Denver Stampede||/ / / /|
|Mike Te'o||San Diego Breakers||/ / / /|
|Zack Test||Men's Eagles Sevens|
|Peter Tiberio*||Seattle Saracens|
|Andrew Turner*||Unattached||/ / /|
|Dino Waldren||Unattached||/ /|
|Calvin Whiting*||Brigham Young University||/|
|*Indicates player uncapped at international test level|
USA Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship