BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby Boys' High School All-Americans Head Coach Salty Thompson was encouraged by the performances of the USA boys in the Las Vegas Elite High School Division at the Las Vegas Invitational. The First team went undefeated at 5-0 while the Second team tied two games on day one and unfortunately drew the HSAA First team in the Quarterfinals on day two.
The HSAA had two days and five practices to prepare for the LVI. The coaching team of Michael Engelbrecht, David Fee and Thompson put an emphasis on playing as a team, working a simple game plan to secure and maintain possession, and play with width and depth.
"It's a credit to the boys that they transformed themselves into a team so quickly, playing smart rugby, moving the ball, supporting and finishing," said Thompson. Going into the Final against a good British Columbia First team and playing in front of 30,000 fans was challenging. "Since our boys are dominant players in their clubs and all star teams, they can easily fall into the trap of doing too much on their own."
The USA High School All-Americans did not fall into the trap, however, and defeated the British Columbia First team 19-7.
The next stop for the HSAAs is a return to the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens from March 21-22 in London, where 105 teams will vie for the open division title in the world's largest school rugby tournament.
A 5-1 record in 2012 got the USA into the final day and round of 16. This year, the goal is to go further. The All-Americans will land in London on Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, and have three days to prepare.
The U17 HSAAs, or High School All-American Junior Varsity, will arrive in London the Sunday after the Rosslyn Park Sevens and compete in the Wellington College International Tournament. The U17 boys will go up against the Wales U16s on March 30, Belgium U17s on April 1, and England South U16s on April 5.
The U17s made a positive impact at last year's tournament with a gifted team of '95 born players and lost to a good England North team by six points.
"We have experience in six returning HSAAs and an opportunity to raise the bar and achieve more," said Thompson.
The HSAAs are able to travel around the world thanks to the sponsorship of Aircraft Charter Solutions and their owner Robin Reid.
"The support of ACS has been instrumental in creating a quality schedule for the HSAAs and nurturing a good crop of prospects for the U20s and future senior Eagle teams," said Thompson.