Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
USA Rugby is officially announcing its first Men’s National Team Elite Player Camp for 2008, set for the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center, just outside San Diego, May 8-11.
“Now that the club season is in full swing and the international season is on the horizon, it is time to start making initial selections for the Eagles 2008 program,” USA Rugby’s CEO and President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville said. “Initially this camp is designed to check the status of our elite players, and start to prepare for the program ahead. But, this will also mark the first chance that the players and coaches will have to meet the incoming Head Coach Scott Johnson.”
The camp will be run by Melville, USA Rugby’s HP managers, Scott Lawrence and Matt Sherman, and the 2007 RWC assistant coaches Adam Friend, Marty Wiggins and Bill LeClerc. Coach Scott Johnson, who has yet to finalize his visa, will be stopping at the camp to meet his players and colleagues, but will also be looking for a place to live during his brief trip to the U.S.
USA Rugby National Team Coaches and High Performance Managers have been watching the progress of many players over the past 12 months and have chosen an initial squad that is made up of domestic and overseas contracted players, although, some overseas players, who were invited, are still fulfilling club commitments and will be unavailable to attend.
“The competition for places in this Eagles squad is undoubtedly increasing and the standards are rising,” Melville added. “This camp marks the start of the next RWC quadrennial. Several players have recently retired and several more have signed new overseas contracts, so USA Rugby is excited to bring in a couple of new names to the elite player pool.”
Athletes invited to this first Elite Player Camp include: Inaki Basauri (Agen), Henry Bloomfield (Belmont Shore), Justin Boyd (Dallas Harlequins), Blake Burdette (NYAC), Todd Clever (OMBAC), Paul Emerick (Newport Gwent Dragons), Chad Erskine (injured), Vaha Esikia (Las Vegas Rugby Club), Troy Hall (White Plains Rugby), Mike Hercus (IBM – Japan), Saimone Laulaupea’alu (San Francisco Golden Gate), Brian Lemay (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), Owen Lentz (Maryland Exiles), Jason Lett (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), Mike MacDonald (Leeds), Ata Malifa (Belmont Shore), Valenese Malifa (Belmont Shore), Mike Mangan (Denver Barbarians), Samuela Manoa (SFGG), Keiki Misipeka (Pearl City), Mate Moeakiola (Pukekohe – New Zealand), Takudwa Ngwenya (Biarritz Olympique – France), Andrew ‘Tui’ Osborne (OMBAC), Thretton Palamo (Biarritz), Michael Palefau (Petrarca – Italy), Alec Parker (Aspen), Mike Petri (NYAC), Rikus Pretorius (Cal), Jason Pye (injured), Pat Quinn (Denver Barbos), Kort Schubert (Olympic Club), Salesi Sika (AS Beziers Herault – France) Jacob Sprague (Mystic River), Louis Stanfill (Cal), John Tarpoff (St. Louis Bombers), Alipate Tuilevuka (Galwegians – Ireland), Albert Tuipulotu (AS Beziers), John Van Der Giessen (Denver Barbos), Francois Viljoen (injured), Jonathan Vitale (Chicago Lions), Ben Wiedemer (Belmont Shore), Chris Wyles (OMBAC).