For Immediate Release
March 17, 2011
Men’s Junior All-Americans Set Sights on IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy
The Men’s U-20 Junior All-Americans are on track for a banner year in 2011 building up to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) this summer in Georgia. The Junior All-Americans (JAAs) depart for a pre-JWRT camp in London on May 14. They play their JWRT Pool A opponents Samoa, Russia, and Uruguay starting on May 24.
Head Coach Scott Lawrence is immersing his players in a high performance culture and helping them prepare for the jump to international level rugby and fitness.
At a camp in February, the JAAs got a chance to experience the ultimate high performance training environment at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Lawrence worked with the United States Olympic Committee’s High Performance Team and national team coaches Matt Sherman, Dave Williams, and Al Caravelli to create a strategy for benchmarking and setting goals for the players.
Each player was evaluated on skill level, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and performance psychology. Based on their evaluation each player received a comprehensive scorecard and development plan so they can work towards their goals between JAA assemblies.
"The basis of our approach is to work with coaches to aid in the identification process, use camps early on to come up with a pre-season point of view and then align our development plans with the source coaches for an agreed execution timetable during the spring collegiate season. The days of holding a camp and making a selection decision based on a one week snapshot are over,” said Lawrence.
Through film review, periodic testing and an interactive performance psychology blog, all parties can benchmark progress. The “360 degree feedback cycle” employed by Lawrence and his team involves the players, their home team coaches, and of course the JAA coaching staff.
“We develop and choose players based on an entire body of work along with form at the time of competition. To do this, we need to be engaged with the programs that foster the daily training environment for athletes. In return, they engage us in a way that is athlete-by-athlete based.”
“We want these players to perform confidently and at their very best in domestic competition so that we can make informed decisions. Once those decisions are made, we'll focus our energy into executing the JAA team game plan for the Junior World Rugby Trophy," said Lawrence.
Collaboration and coordination make the transition from All-American to Eagle more seamless and effectual. Case and point: Jake Fallon.
Caravelli was at the JAA camp, noticed Fallon and invited him to a camp with Team USA. Fallon is currently training with the Eagles as they prepare for the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
“Jake has done really well so far and settled in well,” said Caravelli. “The more reps he gets, the more confidence he gets.”
Fallon joins eight other former All-Americans/Under-20s players who are in the current player pool. Lawrence knows that elevating to the senior international realm doesn’t just happen, but it occurs when hard work and talent intersect.
“I’m pleased for Jake and happy that his dedication to the program and himself has put him in a position to compete for a spot with one of our senior [national] teams,” said Lawrence.
Other (non-JAA) players will have the opportunity to be scouted during the high school, high school club and All-Star regular seasons and championships. Coaches can also recommend players to the Junior All-American staff by completing this form: http://tinyurl.com/AAplayernomination.
The JWRT will mark the end of the 2011 JAA cycle and the 2012 cycle will begin immediately after.
ABOUT THE ALL-AMERICAN PROGRAM
The All-American program selects the best rugby players in the country based on performance in domestic rugby competitions. Selected players attend high performance training camps throughout the year and, unlike other sports in which All-Americans are named but never compete as a team, rugby All-Americans compete in domestic and international matches.
In addition to recognizing outstanding rugby players, the All-American program is a development pathway to international honors. The program identifies and develops talent and character in order to prepare athletes for higher levels of rugby and life outside of the game. Beginning with the High School All-Americans, a player may progress to the U20-Junior All-Americans, and finally reach the pinnacle of the All-American program and become a Collegiate All-American.
All-American rugby has been in existence for more than a century in the United States. The original Collegiate All-American team, originally titled an “American Universities” team, traveled to New Zealand and Australia in 1910, marking the first ever American rugby tour. The All-American crest, adorned with 13 stars and stripes is the same one those athletes wore on the inaugural All-American tour and the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games, a nod to America’s rugby and national heritage.