Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:53
Russia Injury Statement Raises Eyebrows
Rugby World Cup
Russian national team manager Nikolay Nerush said some strange things today in a release to the press.
Going against standard operating procedure for most test teams, Nerush went public about injuries on the squad. He said the Russian team’s buildup for the World Cup has been hampered by a series of injuries.
Nerush did not name the players injured, but did say they were not in camp and we away rehabbing at some secure, undisclosed location.
"We face a serious problem in our preparations for September's World Cup. It's a huge spate of injuries that sidelined some of our team's leaders," Nerush told the Russian press. "There's a set of the first-line players, who have had to withdraw from intense practices for the World Cup because of medical reasons."
Nerush declined to name the players he was referring to.
Could this be a nod to the pressure the Russian team feels going into the World Cup? The Russian government, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made several public comments supporting the Russian rugby cause, and will be in New Plymouth, NZ for the USA v. Russia World Cup match in September.
A public statement about injuries could possibly be a CYA moment for the Russian team.
The geographic splintering of the Russian squad is a complication on another level. The IRB requires all players in a team’s World Cup pool to be constantly available for drug testing. Every player in the pool must submit a personal availability itinerary, which gives a location and a period of one hour, each day, where that athlete might have to submit to a surprise doping test.
Players must provide a list of their daily whereabouts to the IRB. If players are off rehabbing, but not being named, that provides a complication for the Russian team, and the IRB.
Nerush also said Russian players who are playing in England have not yet been released by their clubs, and that has also hampered their training.
Written by Gavin Cummiskey
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 13:38
RWC, Super 14 Final and Twitter
Originally run on www.irishtimes.com, this article hits a few different international topics quickly, including RWC ticket sales, one of the Eagles key opponents in Russia's Vasily Artemiev, a twitter boycott and this weekend's Super 14 final.
RUGBY World cup countdown
“BEST seats left empty as fans go for cheap,” was the New Zealand Herald headline yesterday. By June 2007 the French World Cup organisers announced that two million of their 2.4 million tickets had been sold. So, how does New Zealand 2011 measure up?
“Tournament organisers announced last week they had sold 900,000 of 1.6 million tickets – or 56 per cent – to reach three-quarters of their sales target of $268 million,” reported the New Zealand Herald.
No match is a sell-out yet (although the All Blacks versus France will be soon), while the knockout round tickets went on public sale yesterday.
Taranaki’s Yarrow Stadium, which hosts Ireland’s opening pool match against the US Eagles on September 11th, is beginning to shift tickets to the locals.
It’s just that Kiwis are not overly enamoured about shelling out up to €260 when they can pay €24.
Pool C player focus
Vasily Artemiev (Russia)
VASILY Artemiev (Russia, above) is a product of the Leinster schools system.
His time at Blackrock College is memorable for his prolific try-scoring return, especially the hat-trick in the 2003 Junior final and crucial touch down in the 2006 senior final. Blessed with electric attacking skills, he was inevitably nicknamed the “Moscow Flyer”.
Playing in a back three with his good friend Luke Fitzgerald and the Leicester Tigers new recruit Niall Morris, age-grade honours followed for Leinster and Ireland.
However, he was denied a place on the Irish Under-19 World Cup squad in 2006 as boarding school in Blackrock was not considered sufficient residency grounds by the IRB.
An extremely bright student, who developed a distinctive south Dublin accent, he went on to UCD, winning his Colours, while also being recruited by the Leinster Academy.
Despite becoming a regular try scorer in the All-Ireland League, Artemiev did not get a full contract from the province so he returned to Moscow, making significant strides on the IRB Sevens circuit and eventually becoming a valued member of the Russia 15-man team.
His try-scoring knack has continued onto the international stage with nine in 25 Tests and he impressed again during this summer’s Churchill Cup.
He will join the Northampton Saints after the World Cup in New Zealand.
Happy Henry: Coach welcomes players' decision
ALL Black coach Graham Henry (right) has welcomed his players’ decision to abstain from Tweeting during the World Cup.
The host squad have also rejected all monetary offers to write newspaper columns.
“Many of the current players have been approached by newspapers, from all over the world, requesting them to write columns whilst the tournament is going on,” said Henry in the Daily Telegraph.
“The players got together and decided to make an immediate stance. They thought it was best to concentrate solely on the footie and to leave everything else alone.
“I agree with the move they have made and am happy they have done it. Such matters can only be a distraction.”
Former England captain Will Carling wasn’t long seeing this move as a weakness. Tweeting, of course, Carling said: “think Twitter ban a bad call – gives fans an insight – great marketing. signs that pressure is already high #rugby \”.
The Irish squad are expected to stick with the stance adopted mid-way through the Six Nations after some awkward interaction between players and the public prompted adherence to IRFU guidelines.
That means no tweeting 24 hours before and after games.
Reds v Crusaders: Cooper v Carter in Super 15 final
SATURDAY’S Super 15 Grand Final is being billed as the clash of the game’s two greatest outhalves.
Quade Cooper’s unpredictable brilliance will be measured against the long established excellence of Dan Carter as the Queensland Reds host the Canterbury Crusaders in Brisbane (10.40am – live Sky Sports 2).
Cooper’s kicking return of three from seven in the Reds’ semi-final victory over the Auckland Blues proves he has some way to go. Carter’s near flawless left boot, aided by Sonny Bill Williams’ defence unlocking skills, saw off the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend.
Cooper is actually a Kiwi but his family moved to Australia when he was 12.
(For a glimpse at his famed side step see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROhPvSE3Tkc)
The meeting also pits several young Wallaby hopefuls against an All Black laden side captained by a fit-again Richie McCaw.
Written by Eric Gilmore
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 13:49
Sacramento Bee Profiles Scully
Originally run in the Sacramento Bee
When he graduated from Jesuit High School five years ago, Sacramento's Blaine Scully had never played rugby.
Now he's a four-time college All-American and a member of the U.S. National Team, vying to make the 30-man squad that will compete in September's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Scully, a senior co-captain this season on an undefeated Cal team that survived a tumultuous year to win the national championship, the Bears' 19th in 21 years, said he wants to play professional rugby overseas. And he hopes to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rugby will return to the Games for the first time since 1924 (with a seven-a-side format instead of the traditional 15-a-side).
The past two years, Scully has competed twice in Scotland and once in England for coach Al Caravelli's U.S. National Sevens Team.
"If he continues to work, I don't see any reason why he can't be on the squad that will challenge to be on the podium in 2016," said Caravelli, who hopes to coach that U.S. Olympic team. "He strives for perfection all the time."
Scully graduated from Cal with a history degree, and he has long thought about attending law school, but for now he'll continue to "chase the rugby rainbow" and see where it leads him.
Scully began this unlikely journey during his freshman year at UCLA after arriving as an all-around athlete without a team. He lettered in basketball, swimming and water polo at Jesuit, and planned to play water polo in college but he had a change of heart.
Scully can thank former Jesuit rugby star Pierce Cooley, his high school friend, for launching his love of rugby.
Cooley was playing rugby at UCLA, and he made what turned out to be a brilliant suggestion.
"He said, 'Hey, you should try out for the team,' " Scully said.
For Scully, it was love at first scrum.
Scully enjoys contact
Scully quickly discovered he was a natural with his combination of speed, power, leaping ability and grit. By his second season, he earned All-American honors. Then he transferred to Cal to join coach Jack Clark's national powerhouse program, and his rugby skills skyrocketed.
"It was by far the best decision I've ever made in my entire life," Scully said of transferring to Cal. "It just shaped my life in every respect, from being a student and an athlete."
Clark and assistant coach Tom Billups helped hone Scully's rugby skills, but he came to Berkeley with plenty of qualities that can't be taught.
"He's a highly competitive guy," Clark said. "He's not afraid of a battle of physical wills. Contact is not something he shies away from. Rugby's an 80-minute contest and no timeouts. You've got to grind. You've got to be willing to keep going."
Although Scully didn't play rugby or football in high school, he said his love for bone-jarring contact is "kind of in my blood." His late father, Steve, played football at Santa Clara, where he was a hard-hitting safety. His older brother, Sean, played football at Saint Mary's College and Sacramento State.
"I love the physical aspect (of rugby)," Scully said. "That just came naturally to me."
Scully credits his mother, Jan, for his resiliency and drive. In 1994, Scully's father Steven, an attorney, suffered a fatal heart attack while working out. He died during Jan's first run for Sacramento County District Attorney, a race she won. She has held the job ever since.
"I really can't say enough about my mom and what she did for me and my sister (Tara) as well," Scully said. "Her ability to shoulder the entire burden of losing the person she loved most and holding the family together, and also having a very demanding job with a lot on the line – just an incredible person. A lot of people might have fallen apart at that point. Nothing stopped her. She's my true role model."
Jan Scully held the family together for a few years before marrying Brian Royce, a Sacramento area oral surgeon, who adopted her children and became, "just like a real dad for me," Blaine said.
"Blaine has always valued his family and people around him that he loves," Jan said. "He just loves his family. He likes to make us proud. He just has a good heart."
Cal rugby saved
That heart helped Scully become a leader of Cal's rugby team during trying times this season. For starters, the Bears didn't play a true home match because construction on Memorial Stadium forced them to to turn Witter Rugby Field into a practice facility for multiple sports, including football.
Then there were problems with the newly installed artificial turf that limited the area available for practice.
That wasn't the worst news. In September, Cal's storied rugby program was slated to be downgraded to a club sport. It took a fund raising drive to save the program, which was reinstated in February.
"There's a lot of angst with that," Clark said. "Internally, it took a steady hand. Blaine was remarkable."
Said Scully: "Our entire (rugby) community raised us from the dead."
Cal capped its perfect season with a 21-14 victory over BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium near Salt Lake City. It was the second title in Scully's three years at Cal.
"It was an uphill climb the whole way, but we just wouldn't quit until we got to the top," Scully said.
Next, Scully will join fellow All-Americans for three matches this month against a visiting team from New Zealand, concluding July 16 at Stanford. Then he'll join the U.S. National Team in the Denver area to prepare for two matches against Canada and one against Japan.
On June 18 in Worcester, England, Scully played in his first official "test game" for the U.S. National Team against Russia. He started at fullback in the bowl final of the Churchill Cup. After a tentative start, Scully came on strong in a 32-25 victory.
Four other former Bears played for the United States that day – Jesuit graduates Colin Hawley, Louis Stanfill and Eric Fry, along with Chris Biller. Those familiar faces helped Scully adjust to his new, high-stress surroundings.
"It was a learning experience," Scully said. "It took me about 20 minutes to kind of settle myself into the game. That's when I got my first touch of the ball. After that it all kind of made sense."
Scully will have to continue his strong play to earn a spot of the World Cup roster.
"I wouldn't bet against him," Clark said.
Written by RUGBYMag Staff
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 10:14
RM.com's Women's Collegiate All Americans
After some deliberation, RugbyMag.com has named its Women's Collegiate All Americans for the 2010-2011 season. It was difficult to narrow down the field and forego well-known names for some up-and-coming talent who impressed national selectors, and an equally impressive "honorable mention" list is necessary to give everyone their due respect.
Accolades go to repeat All Americans Sadie Anderson, Kyle Armstrong, Jozy Gessner, Keelia Harker, Lisa Henneman, Joanna Kitlinski, Tyra McGrady, Deven Owsiany and Frances Wehrwein. They all had another impressive year around the pitch and represent some of the country's best collegiate athletes.
Performances at all level of the game were weighed, even non-USA Rugby events like the CRC 7s in early June. Individual praise from national team coaches like Bryn Chivers (USA U20), Ric Suggitt (USA 7s) and Pete Steinberg (USA Women's 15s) also helped identify players who typically wouldn't be on display at national championships.
The most recognizable names are those who played in the DI national championships in May. From title-stealing Army, DI MVP Annie Lee, Jess Sexauer, Kayla Orvik and Sylvia Thomas established themselves as must-adds. Sexauer and Orvik were particularly stunning at the CRC 7s, which the cadets also won in Philadelphia, and familiarized an even larger crowd with the team's stellar team speed.
The DI championship and CRC 7s runner-up, Penn State, also sees a number of players named to the All American list. Anderson was the lone college player who Steinberg invited to the most recent Women's National Team camp in late June. Owsiany also proved herself on the international 7s circuit, accompanying the Eagles to Las Vegas and Hong Kong 7s tournaments. Pound for pound, she's one of the hardest-hitting, hardest working players on the college scene today. Suggitt was also happy to add South Carolina's Ryan Carlyle to the Hong Kong roster, and the speedster did not disappoint.
Some other memorable matches during the DI national championships highlighted some outstanding players. Virginia advanced to the final four with a gripping overtime win over Brown, and intimidating wing Erica Cavanaugh was a major force that propelled her team so far into playoffs. Michigan nearly upset Brown in the opening round of nationals, but with big, aggressive forwards like Kadie Sanford, the near-win shouldn't have been such a surprise.
Navy and Women's Cougar Rugby (WCR) also butted heads in the quarterfinals, with the 7-0 decision falling to the Cougars. Navy was led by Jenn Sandifer and Jane Paar, who was also exciting to watch during the CRC 7s. WCR's Kristi Jackson proved that she's one of the best inside centers in the country, and wins undying praise from coach Tom Waqa.
Chivers was on hand at the national championships and took note of Whitney White, another big wing from New Mexico State, WCR’s Monica Jackson (prop) and Harker (wing), and Notre Dame center Ashley Okonta. The coach was particularly excited to have them at the U20s' most recent camp.
The Collegiate All Star Championships also did well to acknowledge some players who didn't share in the national playoff limelight. Title-winning Midwest was jam-packed with familiar names, and they didn't disappoint on game day. No. 8 Joanna Kitlinski (Grand Valley State) and scrumhalf Brittany Houston (UW Milwaukee) propelled the Thunderbirds past the USA U20s in the final – a difficult task considering the junior Eagles boasted players like McGrady and Alycia Washington. Julia Fortkort (Texas), Hannah Lockwood (Oregon State) and Jen Sever (California) scored several tries for their respective all-star squads, and earned their way onto the AA list.
RugbyMag.com’s 2010-11 Women’s Collegiate All Americans
Katie Andrews (Navy)
Kyle Armstrong (Penn State)
Kayla Ellingson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Julia Fortkort (Texas)
Jozy Gessner (Colorado State)
Monica Jackson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Katie Johnson (UW Milwaukee)
Joanna Kitlinski (Grand Valley State)
Kelsey McIlione (UC San Diego)
Kayla Orvik (Army)
Lauren Poole (Penn State)
Christian Pheil (Penn State)
Jenn Sandifer (Navy)
Kadie Sanford (Michigan)
Jen Sever (California)
Alycia Washington (Connecticut)
Frances Wehrein (Stanford)
Sadie Anderson (Penn State)
Akalaini Baravilala (At Large)
Ryan Carlyle (South Carolina)
Erica Cavanaugh (Virginia)
Delaney Chapman (UCLA)
Keelia Harker (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Shakeela Faulkner (Brown)
Chelsea Garber (Brown)
Lisa Henneman (Penn State)
Brittany Houston (UW Milwaukee)
Kristi Jackson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Annie Lee (Army)
Hannah Lockwood (Oregon State)
Tyra McGrady (Indiana University)
Ashley Okonta (Notre Dame)
Deven Owsiany (Penn State)
Jane Paar (Navy)
Kimber Rozier (North Carolina)
Jessica Sexauer (Army)
Sylvia Thomas (Army)
Whitney White (New Mexico State)