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This is when the USOC can put even more attention toward helping Olympic athletes. This, also, might be the time to kick-start the traditional athlete support systems in the Olympic Club and New York Athletic Club, two organizations that have longstanding Olympic and rugby connections.
But there’s another organization that could have an enormous effect on the national 7s program.
Here we’re talking about the men’s 7s team, but there’s no reason at all that it can’t apply to women as well.
The US Military’s World Class Athlete Program will being to kick-in for the US Olympic rugby program once the 2012 Games are over. Already four players are heavily rumored to be in consideration: Eric Duechle, Marcus Satavu, Andy Locke, and Kyle Millard.
Duechle is in the Air Force and just won a national championship with Belmont Shore. Born in Oregon, Satavu is a USAF Airman currently stationed in Panama City, Fla. And has already played for Atlantis and trained with the USA team. Locke is a former West Point All American flyhalf. Currently on deployment in Afghanistan, Locke has been stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord just south of Seattle.
Millard, a Navy pilot, is a tall forward who played with the US military team at the Best of the West 7s in July.
The new World-Class Athlete Program has no set limit of athletes who could be involved. The program would assign athletes to a military job in San Diego, or possibly in another city with a national team-recognized program, to work and also train for rugby.
These players would have to be named by the USA team as potential Eagles, but once they are, they would be paid by the US Department of Defense to do their job, with the understanding that part of their job would be to train for the Olympic team.
What that opens up is a door to an expanded semi-pro program. USA Rugby would not have to put military rugby players on contract through the USOC.
In addition, this could be a new pathway for young athletes. While the
United States Military might balk at investing four years of military
academy training to develop an officer, only to see him play rugby,
becoming part of the WCAP as an enlisted man might well be much
According to military sources, stationing an enlisted man in San Diego to fill a military role that also allows him to train for and play rugby is something the Army, Navy, or Air Force might well consider.