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Press Release - Landshark Rugby Academy, a full-scale development program for both men’s and women’s athletes, has partnered with USA Rugby to join the ranks of the other National Development Academies to become the official NDA of the Mid-Atlantic region along with the current ODA Scion Rugby.
Landshark will be based out of the Baltimore/Annapolis, Md. area and is headed up by current Rocky Gorge coach Ashton Thomas. Thomas, a former US Collegiate Select Side and USA Eagle pool selection
(2008) in 15s, has multiple years of experience in high-performance coaching and training. He will be selecting staff members from throughout the Mid-Atlantic to fully encompass athletes from all walks of life and sporting backgrounds. In addition, Thomas is the Director of Recruiting for Rocky Gorge and is excited to develop players on a larger scale.
“The goal and mission of Landshark Academy are not just to find the best athletes in our region,” Thomas said. “We want to find athletes that may not pass the ‘eye test’, but have passion, drive, and determination to put in the work that it takes to make them better. We truly want to develop athletes and we are putting a focused effort into providing the best experience possible for everyone who attends.”
Landshark will host its first open camp on July 18-19, 2017 in Severn, Maryland with plans to hold another event in the fall in Virginia and Philadelphia. The camp is open to all levels of experience in youth, high school, college and senior club level.
“We really want to give athletes an opportunity to showcase their talents and if they have interest in developing their game, we want to invite them to be a part of the Academy,” Thomas added. “We don’t want this to be like an ‘All Star’ camp and just focus on finding the top few players. We want to identify talented players, but also give anyone with a desire to learn and develop their game a chance to do so with top notch coaching and guidance.”
Landshark has invited Guest Coaches to the camp in July headlined by USA Eagle and Cardiff Blues player Cam Dolan and newly capped USA Eagle flyhalf Ben Cima. The camp will also have the likes of Mike Flanagan, head coach of the U.S. Naval Academy, Toshi Palamo, coach of the Scion Women’s program and 2016 Collegiate Player of Year, Jihad Khabir.
“We feel it is important to have staff members who have played or coached at the highest of levels to give our athletes a realistic analysis of what it takes to develop into high caliber players,” Thomas explained. “We want our athletes to be able to go back to their clubs or schools and take what they learn from our training sessions throughout the year and share it with other players and coaches.”
Landshark Academy is geared towards both 15s and 7s development for men and women. The academy plans to field a competitive 7s team this summer that will compete in select tournaments and a 15s team this fall for both men and women in high school, college, and club level players that will compete against other select sides and NDA’s. The 7s team will plan to play at the Cape Fear 7s and RugbyTown 7s tournaments as well as play in Vegas and Vancouver next year too. Landshark is working on scheduling its first 15s match with Rugby Utah in the fall.