For Immediate Release
August 31, 2010
All-American trials and steps forward
The Students had a crash course in top level rugby. The next move is all theirs.
BOULDER, Colo. – The Collegiate All-Americans, presented by Royall Lyme, returned last Sunday from their centennial tour of the UK.
“The goal is to create an international level test environment for these athletes,” said former Eagle and All-Americans head coach, Alex Magleby. “We set out to play against some of the best rugby athletes at this age-level and to give our players confidence in their future test careers for those that continue to push for higher honors.”
On top of top level competition, various on field and off field events added to the overall experience:
While on tour, the All-Americans received some extraordinary instruction from London Wasps personnel like kicking coach Dave Walder, scrum coach and 2003 World Cup-winning prop Trevor Woodman, and defensive coach Rob Hoadley. Perhaps most notable was former England and British and Irish Lions coach Dick Best. Best is currently an agent and was joined by another of his agents who wanted to survey the crop of All-Americans and discuss future opportunities abroad to America’s best up-and-coming players.
Elite academic institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham passed on information to players interested in playing overseas while pursuing postgraduate courses of study.
In addition to the coaching expertise, the team had visits from Eagles Robbie Shaw, Tim Usasz, and Chris Wyles who popped in for a visit. Former All-Americans and current Eagles Mike Petri, Mike McDonald, and Hayden Smith also showed their support in person. The All-Americans watched Wyles and Smith play for Saracens, who both played exceptionally well against Esher in a preseason match.
The All-Americans were visited by a “Total Rugby” crew, who recorded a segment for their show featuring the All-Americans. To listen to the segment, visit http://www.irb.com/totalrugby/ or http://irb.edgeboss.net/wmedia/irb/radio/total_rugby_radio.wax.
While these enriching off-the-field experiences are wonderful, the pressure of facing sides like Richmond, Saracens, and Leicester was eye-opening for many players. Having never faced competition as fierce as that of these professional sides, each match proved to have a steep learning curve. However painful the losses were, exposing players to that level of play is crucial, according to Magleby, in order to help develop a growth mindset and, eventually, a habit of victory.
“We need to give these athletes more of these pressure-filled experiences, and we also need to continue to develop a winning confidence.” According to Magleby, the tour provided athletes with that test-level environment, but the winning habit aspect is a work-in-progress and a habit that the USA needs to “collectively continue” to develop. “That will come through better preparation, consistent and deliberate practice throughout the year, and more opportunities like these,” the coach noted.
USA Rugby’s age-grade director and former Eagle, Matt Sherman, had a similar view as far as the tour’s outcomes were concerned. “While the tour showed that the players that they are capable of playing with some of the best young players abroad in spurts, it also exposed them to a higher level of play than most had experienced, and gave them direction on where they need to focus on improving going forward. All players, to a man, seemed thirsty for this experience and challenge, and we have no doubt that they will use it going forward as they return to their respective teams and look to continue to improve.”
Chris Parker, who scored a rumbling forwards try against Leicester Academy, was honored for his overall performance and behavior throughout the tour by receiving the Doug Edwards Best and Fairest Tourist Award. The award, established in 2001 by then General Manager Jack Clark, is given annually to an All-American player who shows outstanding ability on the pitch, and a high level of character off the field, during the course of the tour. The honor is named in memory of long-serving Midwest rugby man Doug Edwards, who was an integral part of the All-Americans management team during the late 1980’s.
Parker, showing his character, distributed the individual honor to his entire team. “Receiving the Doug Edwards award in front of my teammates is something I won't forget. To be honest, I don't believe in single awards, because I believe every man on this tour played his heart out. But respect from teammates is something every player strives for, so it was definitely very humbling.”
Magleby recognized Parker’s commitment to improvement from last year to this year. “Chris was an All-American last year, yet continued to improve from there through lots of hard-work. He made a big impact on the field on this year's tour as a lock and a blind-side flanker, demonstrating a high work-rate, and a team-first attitude.”
Parker realizes he has progressed as a player since last year, but also realizes that there is more work to be done. “My goal is to one day play rugby at the professional level and this tour was pivotal in outlining where my weaknesses are and where my strengths are at the same time. The tour made me realize that I am another rung up the ladder in reaching my goal.”
All-American Fundraiser Raffle Winners Announced:
Following the team’s final match at Welford Road, the team held a random drawing on the bus ride home from Leicester to London. Remarkable prizes were won by five of the fundraiser’s donors drawn randomly. Marvin Silverman won a signed All-Americans jersey; Rudolf Mel won a ball Autographed by the 2010 Churchill Cup Eagles, and Enrico Sanguinetti won a year’s supply of Royall Lyme. Gary Caswell won tickets to Dubai for the IRB Sevens World Series, and Dan O’Leary won a ticket to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The All-Americans would like to congratulate the winners and to thank all of those who donated to support the tour.
Head to Head Rugby Competition:
The All-Americans tour was made possible by private donations, but also by a generous sponsorship from Royall Lyme. The All-Americans and Royall Lyme seek to further the sport of rugby in the United States. Royall Lyme, in association with Oktane Media, has created a “Head to Head” competition between some of the elite collegiate players, many of whom are All-Americans. The link to the competition is http://rugbyh2h.com/ . Go online to vote for your favorite collegiate player!
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