Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Former Husker and Packer Legend Ahman Green to Join USA Eagles Rugby Camp

It a bit of surprising news, retired NFL running back Ahman Green is set to join the USA Sevens team in training at the Olympic Center in Chulo Vista California.  USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville confirmed the news via his Twitter account earlier today.

Green reached out to Melville and USA rugby via Twitter a few weeks ago, but many did not take the conversation seriously.  However, those in charge at USA Rugby did their due diligence and contacted the former NFL star, and talked him into giving Rugby Sevens a try.

While details about the deal are still a bit murky, it appears that Green will at least get a tryout with the current USA Sevens program and will spend the next few weeks training and working with the guys currently in camp.  It is unclear exactly how much, if any, previous rugby experience Green currently has, so he will have to manage a steep learning curve to catch up to the rest of the guys in camp.  Also working against Green will be his age, at the time of this post Green is 36 years old, and will be 39 by the time the 2016 Summer Olympics roll around, should he make the squad.

What Ahman Green does bring to the table is a professional pedigree.  He was an integral part of two national championships while playing for Nebraska.  During his time in the NFL Green became the Green Bay Packers all-time leading rusher.  In total he played 12 seasons in the NFL for three teams.

We've seen football converts come to rugby in the past, and there's been mixed results.  The high end would be Carlin Isles, who is currently learning his craft at the Olympic Training Center.  Also Dan Lyle was a football convert.  The list of failures is too long to name, but recently Maurice Clarrett made an attempt at rugby, but was not able to stand up to the rigors of the training and schedule.

What do you think? Can Ahman Green make the ultimate comeback?

Tiger Rugby Wins Big On and Off the Field in Shanghai

Our friends over at This is American Rugby took some time to update us on the work Tiger Rugby has been putting in over in Shanghai China as they prepare for the Shanghai 7's this weekend.

Tiger Rugby has been in China the past week in preparation for the Shanghai 7's this weekend and has already picked up some silverware. Shanghai Rugby Club hosted a 10's tournament over the weekend featuring several teams from China and Japan. According to Tiger Rugby coach James Walker the team was expecting a 7's tournament but the format was switched at the last minute. It took "a bit of adjusting to," noted Walker. "Gears were clicking by the end, and the speed and skill were too much for the local sides." The team beat six teams on their way to the title.

This week the team has spent time with the Chinese National Team, IRB representatives, who have run a series of camps for schools and clubs. As part of that effort Tiger Rugby spent time with kids in inner-city Shanghai. The team has also been mixing in training as they get ready for the weekend.

Stay tuned as we'll be speaking with James Walker throughout the weekend, and upon his return stateside to update you on the latest Tiger Rugby action.

With the Chinese National Team on the Bund in Shanghai.
Winning the cup at the Shanghai 10's.
Working with kids in the city.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mike Tolken Names Eagle Selects for This Weekend

The USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolken has made his selections for the Eagle Selects who will compete in the first round of the ARC against the Argentina Jaguars.   The side is a mix of experienced Eagles who played in the Summer test series, as well as some up and comers.  Without a doubt the biggest shock, and mistake in this bloggers humble opinion is the inclusion of Toby L'Estrange at fly-half.  The NYAC pivot struggled mightily over the summer while wearing the 10 jersey for the Eagles, and many speculated that Tolkin would use the ARC as an opportunity to try out some new options.  However, Tolkin is turning to his former player once again. One would think he must be on a short leash at this time.

Here's how the rest of the line out plays out.

Forwards: Titi Lamositele, Phil Thiel, Shawn Pittman, Graham Harriman, Will Haydock, Danny Barrett, Liam Murphy, Cam Dolan

Backs: Shaun Davies, Toby L'Estrange, Ed Mills, Mile Pulu, Chris Chapman, Mark Roberts, Adam Siddall,

Bench: Cam Falcon, Nick Wallace, Chris Sullivan, Tai Tuisamoa, Derek Asbun, Chris Saint, Peter Moala, Tim Maupin

Outside of L'Estrange there are a few other players who we will keep a close eye on and their level of play.  Young Titi Lamositele caught plenty of peoples eyes this summer when earned his first cap.  He's gone on to a trial with the Saracens, and is hoping to catch on with a European club once the ARC is complete.  A strong showing over this tournament will help those options. Cam Dolan is lining up at 8-man and could make a claim to being ready to be a full time international player.  Finally, Shaun Davies is a strong scrum-half that is looking to put a stamp on his spot with the full Eagles, and he certainly has proven to deserve it so far.  

Friday, October 04, 2013

American Rugby Premiership Is it Still a Go?

Yesterday we reported via a press release from the Glendale Raptors, that eight teams and USA Rugby had reached a deal that would bring the American Rugby Premiership to life in the spring of 2014.  However, as the day went on we received word that the Raptors may have jumped the gun with their press release, and all things in fact were not in place. 

After doing some research, it has come to our attention that the Glendale press release was inaccurate, and there are still several options in play that have kept the deal from being finalized, and kept the league from coming to life.

We've had the opportunity to speak with several sources who were involved with the the meeting that was held in Denver Co. on Wednesday, and many of the parties involved were not happy with the outcome.  The frustration stems from USA Rugby's sudden involvement with the new league.  A venture that until recently they wanted nothing to do with.

The original idea behind the American Rugby Premiership or the West Coast Cup as it as known in it's origin was to bring together the best teams in the West to play in a premier league that would be beneficial to all clubs involved both from a rugby and a financial standpoint. The league was to operate under the guidelines of USA Rugby in regards to standards and practices, but it would live outside of the current domestic structure. Thus allowing them to secure sponsorship and media rights that leagues under USA Rugby's control are not able to access.

As the momentum behind the league began to grow, USA Rugby took note, and realized they were in danger of being left behind.  They did not want to see eight of their best and prominent clubs gain enough leverage to potentially leave the union one day if they chose (though possible this was never the idea behind the league).  The eight teams involved in the league never had the intent to damage USA Rugby, they entered the deal with the goal of building and growing rugby in the USA via a better domestic competition, something that any rugby observer would agree is needed.

USA Rugby's arrival to the meeting was their last ditch effort to keep the eight clubs from going on their own, and they pulled out all the stops to insure they could keep the clubs in house.  Offers were made to invite four new teams into the USA's Elite Cup competition, when those programs had previously been shunned from the competition.   USA Rugby also threatened to take away the sanctioning of the league despite the Premiership's efforts to conform to USA Rugby's guidelines.  This threat effectively cut the Premiership off at the knees, putting several of the clubs in a tough position as they did not want to cross USA Rugby.

After presentations were made the clubs were left to decide amongst themselves what their options will be.  During the meetings the clubs came to several conclusions but nothing is set in stone just yet.  The Glendale press release was correct in that the American Premiership will likely partner with USA Rugby to some degree.  However, the full extent is not currently known.  In addition, according to our sources, the clubs in still have the opportunity to break away and push the league in it's original format that would exclude USA Rugby from the proceedings.  This seems to be a popular option with several clubs involved given their distrust in USA Rugby, and who could blame them considering how USA mismanaged so many other elite leagues, and eventually ran them into the ground.

What we do know for certain is there will be a Premiership league that will play this spring, exactly who will run that league, and how it will function is still to be determined.  USA Rugby's interference in these proceedings have muffled was was one a cut and dry situation.  If USA Rugby is to get their way and pull the league under their mantel don't be surprised if there are major ripples felt throughout the rugby community, and possibly another major shake up in West Coast rugby.

We will continue to update and bring more stories forward as the information comes in.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

American Rugby Premiership Announced

It's official, what was known as the West Coast Cup earlier this summer has been re-branded and the American Rugby Premiership is born.  The hard work of several individuals and eight elite American rugby clubs will form a new league showcasing teams West of the Mississippi River and arguably some of the best talent the United States has to offer.

After hours of meetings yesterday in Glendale Colorado, the eight teams and USA Rugby were able to come to an agreement and get this thing off the ground.

Read bellow for the official Press release.

Glendale, Colorado, October 3, 2013 - Club representatives from eight elite clubs (Belmont Shore, Denver Barbarians, Glendale Raptors, Olympic Club, OMBAC, San Francisco Golden Gate, Santa Monica and Seattle OPSB) convened yesterday to meet with City officials in Glendale, CO to work out the details to organize an 8-team competition schedule for next season. The competition will be branded as the American Rugby Premiership in 2014.
USA Rugby Director of Operations, Jim Snyder, attended the meeting and graciously offered to sanction the competition for 2014.

“We are absolutely thrilled that USA Rugby has decided to work with the top clubs and RugbyTown USA to sanction the competition and help us improve of the quality of competition for our member clubs,” said Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon.

The schedule is still being finalized, but will feature a competition window from February 1 to May 17, 2014, with all teams playing each other home and away, plus the ARP Final pitting the top two teams on points after the regular season at Infinity Park on May 17, 2014 in Glendale, Colorado