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LAFAYETTE, CO. - The Men's Junior All-Americans (U20s) will seek qualification in the World Rugby Trophy tournament (WRT) during a two-match series against Canada's U20s in Houston June 12th and June 16th. While a location for the series will be announced closer to date, both games will take place in the same week as the senior Men's Eagles' test match with Scotland (hosted at BBVA Compass Stadium), making the atmosphere that much more enticing for young athletes working towards future national team selections.
Scott Bracken, Eagle No. 235 and Head Coach for the Men's Junior All-Americans (MJAAs), is thrilled to lead a squad of potential future national team players. As a product of the USA Rugby pathway, Bracken describes his enthusiasm for helping young players advance to the next stage.
"This age-grade is my favorite to coach. The athletes at this age are just sponges and it's a transitional stage in their lives where the right mentorship can make a difference in their life direction," says Bracken. "This trip will be a great experience because we'll be practicing at the same location as the Men's National Team. Being alongside the men's team, and seeing it up close, will give them an extra impetus to strive for that goal."
Last time the USA Men's U20s faced Canada in a WRT qualification, they split the series 1-1 but were unable to qualify due to their aggregate score. Now with both matches taking place on home soil, and camp to be held May 11-13 at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Site, the team will be looking to reverse their result from 2017.
JD Stephenson (Director of Rugby for the Men's Junior All-American tour) and the MJAAs staff have selected 50 players through open nominations and an evaluation of standout athletes from the previous year's competition. Knowing the value of a high-performance camp, Stephenson describes the importance of preparation in the lead-up to facing the Canadian U20s.
"It's extremely important to start to build cohesion among the playing group, coaching staff and management team to ensure alignment of philosophies, values and shared beliefs," says Stephenson. "This squad will be facing a prepared, disciplined and well-coached Canadian side that will look to continue on their success of last year"
Accompanied by Assistant Coaches Scott Murray, Ray Egan, Brendan O'Meara and Michael Engelbrecht - all selected from USA Rugby's new coaching development pathway Project SOAR - Bracken has a depth of experienced leaders to prepare the Men's U20s ahead of competition.
At the end of the weekend, the team with the highest aggregate score will earn a place at the 2018 World Rugby Trophy tournament this Fall. Instituted nearly 10 years ago (2008) the WRT serves as an elite international competition for athletes of eight different national under-20 programs. At the end of the tournament, the winning team earns a berth in the U20s Championship the following year.
The Men's Junior All-Americans will begin training camp for the World Rugby Trophy Qualifier this Friday, May 11. The two-match series between the United States and Canada's U20s programs will run June 12th and June 16th in Houston, TX at locations to be announced closer to date. Updates will be available by following @USARugby on social media.
USA MEN'S JUNIOR ALL AMERICAN STAFF | WORLD RUGBY TROPHY QUALIFIER
Director of Rugby - JD Stephenson
Head Coach - Scott Bracken
Assistant Coach - Michael Englebrecht
Assistant Coach - Ray Egan
Assistant Coach - Brendan O'Meara
Assistant Coach - Scott Murray
Analyst - Jeremy Ognall
ATC - Catherine Donahue
Manager - Kevin McCorry