North American Region Qualifiers serve as a significant pathway for future Olympians

LAS VEGAS, NV. - With a squad in place, USA Rugby will compete in the North American Region Qualifiers in Las Vegas on Mar. 1-3 to secure their position at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. Lead by Emilie Bydwell on the girls side, and JD Stephenson on the boys side, both teams will seek an opportunity to represent the United States at the Games October 8-18.

"The Youth Olympic Games Qualifier provides an exciting challenge for both our staff and our players," said Girls Head Coach Emilie Bydwell. "This tournament provides an opportunity for our young players to experience and learn to thrive in a high-pressure environment; and through that, coming together to rely on each other to minimize stress and maximize performance."

Following its highly-anticipated return to the Olympics at the Youth and Senior levels in 2014 and 2016, respectively, enthusiasm for Rugby Sevens has continued to climb. And, with the Games returning to the United States in 2028, qualification for this year's Youth Olympics will be even more significant for the next generation of Olympians.

"Any opportunity in which players can be tested and challenged in a competitive daily training environment is fundamental for development," said Boys Head Coach JD Stephenson, describing the value of the competition to overall player growth. "The playing group can expect a challenging first four days prior to selection which would mimic the physical, technical, tactical and psychological demands of a Men's 7s High Performance Camp."

With a week to train, both Bydwell and Stephenson will have a chance to prepare their teams to face Canada, Barbados, Mexico (girls) and Jamaica (boys) in three days of competition. The first two days will consist of preliminary rounds and Semifinals at Silver Bowl Park, with Day Three dedicated to the finals on the main stage at Sam Boyd Stadium.

"We are lucky to be having 5 prep days prior to beginning competition," said Bydwell, noting how scheduling has made an impact on the team's thorough preparation. "The players have been working hard at home on physical preparation plans and we've tried to develop as much collective understanding as possible so we can hit the ground running at camp."

"It's always a challenge when a squad is assembled for the first time to build cohesion and unity in their play, especially when they are vying for selection into the final 12," said Stephenson, describing the intensity and depth of the overall experience. "The staff are cognitive of this fact and have tried to tailor our approach to building cohesion, role clarity and conceptual understanding prior to arrival into camp."

Though the event will not be broadcast live, updates will be available by following @USARugby on Twitter.

USA RUGBY ROSTERS | 2018 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFIERS

Girls
Susan Adegoke
Kapoina Bailey
Kate Buzby
Alex Dimarco
Fane "Eti" Haungatau
Claira Lemal Brown
Taylor Marasco
Sharyf Mayer
Cecilia Pennell
Olivia Popp
Arianna Ramsey
Maddie Rose
Salote Taulsinga
Camille White

Boys
Ty Al-Jiboori
Dante Bandoni
Will Chevalier
Max Clark
Alex Cleary
Jacob Cortinas
Lauina Falatea
Mateo Gadsden
John Grande
Jasper Green
Vili Hopoi
Jalen Lampley
Francisco Ligouri
Sione Mahe
Nikita Moysov
Zach Neff
Jeff Peleseuma
Drew Sanderson
Fatu Teo-Tafiti
Junior Waqavesi

USA RUGBY SCHEDULE | 2018 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFIERS

Girls
vs. Mexico W | Thu, Mar. 1 - 12 PM ET
vs. Barbados W | Thu, Mar. 1 - 3:36 PM ET
vs. Canada W | Fri, Mar. 2 - 12:22 PM ET

Boys
vs. Barbados M | Thu, Mar. 1 - 12:22 PM ET
vs. Jamaica M | Thu, Mar. 1 - 2:30 PM ET
vs. Canada M | Fri, Mar. 2 - 12:44 PM ET

USA RUGBY STAFF | 2018 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFIERS

Girls
Head Coach - Emilie Bydwell
Performance Analyst - Dave Gardner
Physiotherapist - Katherine Henry 
Program Manager - Anna Kunkel

Boys
Head Coach - JD Stephenson
Assistant Coach - Brendan Keane
Assistant Coach - David Fee
Physiotherapist - Alan Wallace
Team Manager - Frank Palumbo