United States name 24 for Olympic residency programme

Chula Vista, California, January 30, 2019: USA Rugby has released the names of 24 athletes who will train full-time at the US Olympic Training Site as part of the senior Men’s Eagles Sevens Residency and Junior Men’s Sevens Academy programmes.

The Academy programme features three of the 24 total athletes who have yet to make their national team debut and are still part of a collegiate or club programme.

All athletes part of the Men’s Sevens Residency or Academy Program are available for selection for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, upcoming PanAm Games 2019 and developmental Falcons tours through the season. Players in both programmes will train in a full-time environment led by Head Coach Mike Friday.

High performance (HP) camps take place within the structure of the residency program and serve as intensive weeks of training where non-resident athletes are also invited. In these camps, players are tested and evaluated for selection to an upcoming competition and/or to join the Residency or Academy programs.

“In striving to continually evolve, we’ve added some fresh blood to the squad which has provided that energy every environment needs to be successful,” said Friday. “We are slowly building depth to this programme year over year; and while we are still focused on today, we will continue to plan for life after 2020 to maintain the continuity in the program and crack the American Sporting landscape. It is a balancing act but one we are working hard to achieve.”

The Academy programme – led primarily by National High Performance Development Manager JD Stephenson  takes place within the structure of the larger Men’s Sevens Residency program as an opportunity for up-and-coming athletes to train and ultimately transition to the senior program over time. 2018 Youth Olympians Inoke ‘Junior’ Waqavesi, Lauina Falatea and Ulu Niutupuivaha are Academy players.

All athletes in the Men’s Sevens Residency and Academy Programs come from D1A Rugby or domestic club programs across the United States.

As part of the program’s commitment to further invest in American talent, Development Manager Stephenson will cast a comprehensive net in a new ‘Eagles Nest’ initiative. The initiative itself will see two Men’s Sevens representatives continue to be present at each US tournament while others periodically engage in talent identification of American athletes playing globally. The approach aims to leave no stone unturned in the lead-up to a heavily competitive Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“We must continue to explore all avenues in our talent identification and development process,” said Stephenson. “From our competitive domestic playing pool, talent transfer initiatives and non-domestic qualified American players, we are looking to ensure that our next generation of Eagles will continue to hold up the exemplary standards of our Men’s and Women’s National Team programs.”

The Men’s Eagles Sevens will next compete in the fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at HSBC Sydney Sevens on February 2-3. Currently tied for number one in the World, with Fiji, after claiming three consecutive silver medals, the USA will need to continue their stride in order to conclude the season in the top four and qualify for the Olympics.

Following Sydney, the United States will take a few weeks rest before traveling to their home stop in Las Vegas from March 1-3. The Men’s Sevens won their home stop for the first time in history just last year.

USA Men’s Eagles Sevens Residency Roster: Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Pat Blair, Maceo Brown, Naima Fuala’au, Madison Hughes, Martin Iosefo, Carlin Isles, Matai Leuta, Cody Melphy, Folau Niua, Ben Pinkleman, Joe Schroeder, Faitala Talapusi, Brett Thompson, Stephen Tomasin, Marcus Tupuola, Maka Unufe, Anthony Welmers, Kevon Williams, Ben Broselle. USA Men’s Sevens Academy Roster: Inoke ‘Junior’ Waqavesi, Lauina Falatea,
Ulu Niutupuivaha.

Source: USA Rugby press release.

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