The USA U20 men’s program wrapped up their 52-player West Coast camp this past weekend with a Blue v. White scrimmage.
New Head Coach Jason Kelly was pleased with the camp, which was held at the campus of Cal Maritime University in Vallejo, Calif.
The teams assembled on Wednesday, Jan 1 and all players were tested for fitness before participating in a light session in the afternoon.
Then Kelly and his staff put the players through two-a-days on Thursday and Friday before ending with a game on Saturday.
Kelly picked 26 players for each side, but stuck with his starters for most of the first 50 minutes. Then he slotted in subs for the remaining time.
“It’s a lot of information to take on in 2 ½ days,” said Kelly. “So we were looking for the guys who retained information well and learned quickly. A few guys really impressed us, and we’re looking forward to the East Coast camp in Florida coming up.”
A small number of players from the 2012 U20 squad that won the Junior World Rugby Trophy returned, and they were joined by several players moving up from the High School All Americans team. All of those players, said Kelly, did well to show that they didn’t expect to get a starting position handed to them, and instead took on the responsibility of leadership.
“These guys led by example,” Kelly said. “It was really good to have them with us.”
Any coach is looking for better athletes, but better athletes who are good rugby players is even more desirable. Kelly said he is painfully aware that the teams the USA is slated to play in the Junior World Championships – England, France, and South Africa – will be very big and physical.
Young American athletes who are large and fast are often tracked to football.
But, there can be good news, too.
“One guy came in having grown six inches this past year,” said Kelly.
The camp list was dominated by top high school programs on the West Coast. Lamorinda and Dixon provided ten of the 52 players at the camp.
Notable in the group was Mike Te’o, who has already earned a USA 7s cap, and seems to have found a home with the team at center (he played hooker and wing for the U20s in 2012), Preston Bryant, who was in the Zimbabwe and South African setups before choosing the country of extended family. Bryant came to the USA to join the USA 7s program, but as he is still young and developing, has been tracked to play with the U20s for the moment.
Also in camp was Anthony Salaber, RUGBY Magazine’s 2012 HS Player of the Year, and Nu’u Aiava, who was a star for the HSAA team in 15s and 7s.
USA U20 West Coast Camp list (current clubs/teams in parentheses; extra parentheses lists recent HS program if applicable).
Silvenisi Tomasi (Las Vegas)
Declan McNeice (Lamorinda, Calif.)
Henry Hall (St. Mary’s College of Calif. (Liberty/Tacoma))
Joshua Short (AIC, Mass. (Dixon))
Eric Hamilton (Colorado State (Regis Jesuit))
Elisinoa Aluesi (Eastside Boys, Ore.)
Colton Jensen (Valley RFC, Wash. (Liberty))
Brendan Hardiman (SFGG (Marin Highlanders))
Fineasi Polaulu (Sacramento Lions (Islanders U19s))
Richard Korvick (Kansas State (KC Junior Blues))
Zach Bonte (UCLA (Back Bay, Calif.))
Taylor Neaton (North Dakota State (Western Alliance))
Christopher Maize (Pasadena HS)
Connor Rosenbaum (UCLA (Lamorinda))
Holden Yungert (St. Mary's College of Calif. (Marin Highlanders, Calif.))
Tyler Nawrocki (AIC, Mass. (CK McClatchy HS, Calif.))
Grant Collins (Marin Highlanders, Calif.)
Christopher Rico (Dixon, Calif.)
Broderick King (Metropolis RFC (Edina, Minn.)
Nemia Qoro (Peninsula Green, Calif.)
Mike Te’o (Belmont Shore, Calif.)
Anthony Salaber (Univ. California (Dixon, Calif.)
Danny Lalor (SFGG, Calif.)
Fotukava Malu Hiko (Sacramento Lions (Islanders U19s))
Dylan Audsley (Oxy Olde Boys)
Nick Schlobohm (St. Mary’s College of Calif.)
Gary Vimahi (San Mateo U19s, Calif.)
Marshall Godfrey (AIC, Mass., (Mother Lode, Calif.))
Korbin Lindell (Central Washington Univ. (Lake County HS, Wisc.))
Codi Jones (Cal Maritime (SD Young Aztecs, Calif.))
Gavin Schag (Central Washington Univ. (Lamorinda, Calif.)
Sam Peri (U. Arizona (Lamorinda, Calif.)
Hobie Sisk (Eastside Lions, Wash.)
Ben Pinkelman (Colorado State (Cherry Creek, Colo.))
Nicholas Bonovich (Dixon, Calif.)
Evan Chambers (Cal Maritime (SD Young Aztecs, Calif.))
Jake Murphy (Santa Rosa JC)
Caleb Concannon (U. Missouri (KC Jr. Blues))
Nicholas Salaber (Univ. California (Dixon, Calif.)
Isaiah Chinen (Stanford (Kona Bulls, Hawaii)
Zachary Miller (Raiders Rugby)
Parker Gilbert (Dartmouth College)
Preston Bryant (USA Men’s 7s Program)
Jope Motokana (OPSB, Wash. (Seattle Vikings))
Nuulaiti Aiava (Keaukaha Rugby Sharks, Hawaii)
Ryan Spiwak (Arizona State University (Redondo Beach, Calif.))
Doug McKinley (Central Washington Univ. (Lamorinda, Calif.)
Evan Giest (Colorado State University (SWARM, Colo.)