Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
USA Rugby is pleased to announce the rollout of an upgraded and improved Women’s High Performance Pathway beginning in 2011. The primary mission of Women’s High Performance (WHP) is to identify and develop athletes to lead the USA to the podium at the highest levels of international competition in sevens and fifteens, including the Olympics and IRB Women’s Rugby World Cups.
The new plan features annual performance cycles, elite and open trials, continuity in coaching and playing systems, as well as a rugby academy system.
Since the inception of the Women’s High Performance department in late 2008, the primary focus has been on five key areas:
CONTINUITY IN PLAYING AND COACHING SYSTEMS
Specific WHP strength and conditioning standards, skill targets, principles of play and requirements of High Performance training will be consistent at all stages of the pathway. The objective of this alignment is to enable continuous, progressive, effective and efficient athlete development with the aim of ensuring maximum success.
The WHP Pathway is designed to intersect with community and representative rugby. Points of entry into the pathway include strong performances during youth, high school, college and club level seasons and championships, various open trials, and All-Star competitions at each level, in both sevens and fifteens.
WHP selectors include the Head Coaches of all National Teams, the Women’s High Performance Director, and a network of scouts. Members of the WHP staff are and will continue to be present at all major domestic and international competitions during the course of a year. Head Coaches also work with All-Star coaches and many club coaches in their respective discipline and age-grade to identify and nominate promising athletes throughout the year.
Athletes who aspire to represent the USA should try out for the appropriate All-Star team where they will be scouted at Championship events. In addition, several open trial camps offer the opportunity to be seen by National Team coaches. Cross-over athletes from other sports are encouraged to attend these open trial camps.
Beginning in 2011, a January camp will kick off a new WHP development cycle. Athletes who have been identified during the prior year will be invited to an Elite Trials Camp. In 2011, the camp will be for all athletes who are 20 and older. The first Elite Trials Camp will be held in Lakeland, Florida from January 14-17. A parallel camp will be added in January 2012 for Under-20 prospects.
The annual Elite Trials Camp, led by all National Team Head Coaches and specialist staff, will administer skills assessment and strength and conditioning testing, deliver modules on core skill development, technical sub-unit work, WNT sevens and fifteens principles of play, and elements of High Performance training and lifestyle including sports nutrition, sports psychology, body care, etc…
Following each January camp, Elite and Developmental Academies at the Senior, Collegiate, and High School levels will be named for the year. The athletes selected into these Academies will receive continued assessment and development during the course of the year through both remote delivery and assemblies. In 2011, the Senior and Collegiate Academies will start and the High School Academy will begin in 2012.
Players selected to the Academies in January will remain in the Academy for a one year period, with a new selection cycle starting every January. There will be some flexibility in revising the Academy rosters during the year as athletes may be added to fill losses from injury or due to exceptional domestic performances during the year.
SELECTION FOR ASSEMBLIES AND COMPETITIONS
Head Coaches of the three National Teams (WNT, Sevens, U20s) and the three Representative Teams (USA ‘A’, Collegiate All-American Women and High School All-American Girls) will continue to lead the selection process for each team’s specific assembly and competition.
It is anticipated that the majority of those selections will originate from the Senior, Collegiate and High School Academies. However, it is also expected that a number of athletes outside those Academies may be selected to events throughout the year. Again, performance during the year in domestic events and Open Trials can earn selection to National Team assemblies despite not being on an Academy roster.
The first Sevens team event will be in conjunction with the USA Sevens tournament in Las Vegas. The women’s sevens team will hold a camp and compete in the USA Women’s International 7s tournament from February 7-14, with the tournament on February 11-12. USA, Canada, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil will all compete in that tournament.