Rugby Footprint Grows with USA Touch’s Participation in 2018 Youth Touch World Cup

Exposure of young athletes to simplified international competition furthers the reach of the traditional rugby model

LAFAYETTE, CO. - USA Touch, as an official development partner for USA Rugby, is set to participate in the 2018 Youth Touch World Cup this August 8-11. Taking place in Malaysia, the organization seeks to increase its exposure to young athletes, helping build a foundation for participation in traditional rugby through elite, international competition. As an influential resource in introducing new players to a simplified level of rugby, USA Touch -- and its presence in the Junior World Cup -- serves as an important piece of the USA Rugby National Team development pathway.

"Touch is not only a fun, fast and engaging sport for all but also helps to deliver key rugby skills from evasion to support and defensive positioning to game management," says JD Stephenson, USA Touch's General Manager for High Performance who simultaneously serves as National High Performance Development Manager for USA Rugby. "Touch and rugby will benefit from each other and we're hopeful that we can continue the thriving relationship between USA Touch and USA Rugby."

With the senior Touch World Cup commencing in April of 2019, months ahead of  Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, young American athletes have a built-in  trajectory to showcase their abilities on the world stage. And, more significantly, with the return of the Olympic Games to the United States in 2028, increased familiarity and participation in rugby only supports the growth of the olympic and national player pools.

"Touch players from all over the world are now playing Super Rugby in the south and crossover athletes are seen all over the sevens circuit," said OJ Hawea, President of USA Touch. "Our goal from the outset has always been to work with USA Rugby to build the awareness and availability of the sport across any code there might be - the synergies are too close to be ignored allowing us both to benefit from mutual development."

Since the announcement of USA Touch as an official game development partner, the organization has used its sport model to connect future athletes with traditional rugby while helping existing athletes polish their fundamental knowledge of the game. As a part of the USA Rugby player pathway, participation in the 2018 Youth Touch World Cup increases both exposure to international rugby competition and the American presence in the sport.

As USA Touch looks ahead to successful U.S. hosted rugby events -- including the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco -- and  beyond to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games, chances to increase the rugby footprint at all levels reaches a forefront.

With this in mind and as a support to USA Rugby, the organization evaluates its own chances of hosting a World Cup in 2023. In order to do so, USA Touch will seek strong representation at this year's Junior World Cup, acknowledging the implications it might provide for a youth World Cup in the coming years. Though nothing is set in stone, opportunities are on the horizon for both USA Touch and rugby as a sport overall.


Ashley BrownsbergerLos Angeles Royals
Bethany BergholmPortland Hunters
Brooke McConaghyTin Hill Royal Touch
Ella WesselTin Hill Royal Touch
Jazmin ZageTanglin Rugby Club
Karissa PostulaPortland Hunters
Kiana MillerSan Francisco Touch
Kyah WattersNWS Hornets
Mya HeissCayman Touch
Ria PlunketCayman Touch
Ruby LongPortland Hunters
Skylar SmithCayman Touch
Sonja WesselSingapore American School
Sophia OlsonSan Mateo


Adam LundgreenRed Mountain Youth Rugby
Doug RowlandCayman Touch
Garreth EvansPortland Mavericks
Jaden MuurrayPortland Mavericks
Jonah WahlbergPhoenix Rise
Junior WaqavesiCK McClatchy Rugby
Kendal MurrayPortland Mavericks
Kyle LazeraJupiter Sharks Rugby
Lewis GrayJupiter Sharks Rugby
Macon JonesSan Francisco Touch
O'Shea SettleGenesis Rugby Club
Richard MacDonaldPhoenix Rise
Ruairi DwyerLife West
Thomas Belz-LopesPortland Hunters
Tommy KehoeCayman Touch


Nathan MurrayBoys Head CoachPortland Mavericks
Molly LuftGirls Head CoachPortland Hunters
Mick KehoeBoys ManagerCayman Touch
Jean MillerGirls ManagerSan Francisco Touch
Kaitlin SigadoYouth Development CoordinatorUSA Touch
Justin GoonanHead of Athlete PerformanceUSA Touch
PJ RovinelliRecovery SpecialistUSA Touch
Jason AndrusMedia SpecialistUSA Touch
David ParkerMen's 30's Head CoachUSA Touch
OJ HaweaMen's Program DirectorUSA Touch
JD StephensonHP Development ManagerUSA Rugby