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USA Rugby held its first open recruitment camp Saturday, welcoming about 60 players to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The watchful eyes of National Team coaches and staff were there to monitor and conduct the event.

The day was broke up into three blocks, with the first being dedicated largely to measurements and tests – notating wingspan, hand size, 40-meter sprint times and yo-yo tests. The second portion was more of a skills assessment, seeing where everyone was with passing, track tackling, game sense and aerial ability, followed by feedback and instruction. The third block was a sped up version of the second, allowing coaches to judge the coachability of the attendees.

7s high performance manager Alex Magleby was pleased with the quality of attendees at the camp. There were a few potential diamonds in the rough coming from the club game, and a bevy of talented crossovers.

“There’s a couple of guys like that from a rugby perspective, and there’s a handful of crossovers who you could absolutely see them being coachable,” said Magleby. “They improved throughout the day, they have the physical tools and the physical ability, but how committed are they to really learning the game and getting into an academy or a high quality club team and really pushing over the next three months to learn the rugby side. Overall, quite impressive.”

Some of the crossovers had NFL, NCAA DI track and football experience. And a few of the camp’s standouts could be invited to the Eagles’ upcoming high performance camp coming up next week. Considering everything, Magleby was pleased with the first event, and optimistic about possibly duplicating it in the future.

“It was quite productive. You can imagine if just two of those guys end up becoming national team players in the short term, by short term three to six months, and if three to five of them increase the athletic pool in the next six to 18 months, it’s been quite successful,” he said.

“If we get more than that, awesome. There was probably a third of the guys in camp that at some stage could compete for a spot in the national team.” 


Interesting to see the Eagles take this approach. I wonder if any of these guys are going to be at the NRFL combine which is taking place now.
Half a dozen athletes attended both the Chula Vista combine and the NRFL combine. USA Rugby attracted about 50 athletes while NRFL had about 200. There were more top level athletes at the NRFL combine where promoters have been claiming six figures salaries will be offered in their new league. Clearly the promise of six figure income provides incentive for players and agents. USA Rugby was focused on talent identification and placing athletes not ready for Chula Vista residency with academies and high performance club environments to improve the quality of rugby. NRFL is focused on talent identification, public relations, and selecting players for the upcoming Leicester match. NRFL had many more resources committed to filming and managing relationships with the media. Different motivations and approaches. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.
Lets be clear about a couple things - the US Combine was very much an invite only proposition. The "former" NFL athletes at the NRFL combine were largely castaways that played either not at all or very little and had an average age of about 26. The highest profile NFLer is now 37 YO. Of course there were many recent grads that were younger but any of these crossover athletes would require at least a two year training process to get to the level of a PROFESSIONAL athlete worthy of the public coming to see. This is a far cry from bringing a crossover into a club atmosphere, even a top club atmosphere. No crossover is going to be able to walk into a skill position. With regards to the Leicester match lets not forget that the NRFL was talking up a match with London Irish two years ago at GIllette Stadium. The NRFL has claimed that they will announce the location of the Leicester match this month - so lets see if that even happens. I haven't reserved the weekend for it. I too have heard that the players would be compensated in the 6 figure range - which quite frankly seems preposterous outside of all sense of reality. From what I have heard the league that the commercial arm of US rugby is looking to put together is in the 25 - 40 K range which strikes me as far more sensible. The other question is - where is the NRFL going to get players worthy of being compensated in the 6 figure range - I don't know about you but if I am an employer and I am paying someone in that range I expect the very best. Is such talent even available? Finally - the NRFL is talking about renting out NFL stadia - not an inexpensive proposition. While the NRFL does get credit for putting on the combines - it is never a bad thing to identify talent, even talent that would have to be developed (though it is unclear how) one has to ask about exactly how this group plans on paying high salaries and how they plan on filling NFL stadiums beyond a couple, few thousand for at least the first couple of years. And how this is a sustainable model. The NRFL has taken a go big or go home approach. If they are not able to pull of the Leicester match then in all honesty I think it will be a go home scenario.