BOULDER, Colo. -- The 2014 cycle for the USA Rugby Boys High School All Americans, sponsored by Aircraft Charter Solutions, starts with the Dec. 26-31 Winter Camp in Tempe, Ariz. The camp will bring in 113 players, freshmen through seniors, to compete for positions on the varsity and junior varsity squads for 2014.
The HSAA season starts with two sevens events: Las Vegas Jan. 21-25 and England Schools Sevens March 22-29. The Junior Varsity tour provides test games at the U17 level against Portugal and France April 5-17, while the varsity team will visit Argentina July 11-27 with test games against the Argentina U18s.
The Winter Camp consists of 57 Junior Varsity prospects, born in 1997 and 1998, along with 56 varsity players, born in 1995 and 1996. There are 39 returning HSAAs from last season, including 15 from the Junior Varsity squad which played Wales, Belgium and England South last spring. Another 16 come back from the July Argentina tour, providing valuable experience to the camp roster.
“We have a good blend of known prospects and exciting newcomers,” HSAA Head Coach Salty Thompson said. “In the interests of continuity and performance it’s important we identify and develop players at a young age.
“The Junior Varsity has helped accelerate the likes of Titi Lamositele, who was scouted by Saracens in 2011 as a 16-year-old. In addition, the Argentina test series has challenged our boys to a different level.”
USA Rugby’s Regional All Star Tournaments continue to be the showcase events for HSAA identification. Ninety-seven percent of the boys have played at the RASTs in the past two years. The 2013 RASTs produced camp attendees from the following locales: Denver (30), Pittsburgh (20), Pacific Coast (12), Great Northwest (9), the Midwest (8), New England (5) and the South (2). The newly-formed Eagle Impact Academies are also training 20 of the camp invitees in their home regions.
In an effort to raise standards, the HSAA campers have completed three online courses: Life of an Athlete, warning about the dangers of alcohol and drugs for teens, IRB Rugby Ready, and Rugby Clean. Players also provide character references from two high school teachers.
“It’s an honor to make the camp, let alone represent the USA,” Thompson said. “I expect our players to be quality young men who exhibit the best in character and behavior both on and off the field.”