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55 Try for All American Glory

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55 Try for All American Glory

Men’s Collegiate All Americans have started their assembly at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, with Head Coach Matt Sherman and his staff looking at 55 players who have four days to show they have what it takes to make the team.
 
As happened last year, the All American team won’t be named until everyone has tried out.
 
The camp itself will include testing, skills development, system implementation, and finish with a live scrimmage. 
 
“We think this will give us a good idea of who they are as athletes, how they learn, improve and play together, and how they compete,” said Sherman. “In our experience some players may excel at one of these areas more than others, so we hope a combination gives us better idea of each player, and each player the best opportunity to show what they can do.”
 
Sherman has worked hard to find players from colleges outside the top five or six programs. That’s why Jay Muniz (New England College) and Jace Jackson (Denver University) are in camp. Both are with National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) teams.
 
Others from lesser-known rugby colleges include Ben Landry of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Shawn Riley of Notre Dame College, AIC’s Christian Adams, Iona’s Efthimios Staikos, and Rhode Island’s Stephen Gillissie.
 
Both Landry and Riley have a college football background, while both Staikos and Gillissie provide something national teams seem to struggle to find - height.
 
“We’re looking for players in every position at every camp,” said Sherman. “This year’s camp in particular will be one of the least experienced assemblies in terms of returning All-Americans, as we have six players from last years touring team in camp.  We had a large percentage of players graduate, some are with the Eagles, and others are injured or unavailable. This is providing a great opportunity for a lot of players we’re not as familiar with to come in and compete for an All-American jersey.  We’re excited to see what these guys can do.”
 
Last year’s team tied their two-game series with New Zealand Universities (and lost a midweek game), and did so in part with thanks to the play of Danny Barrett, Kyle Sumsion, and other experienced players.
 
Sherman is hoping someone will break out this year.
 
After the current camp, the players who make the squad will have four more days before they face Cambridge University at Dartmouth College.
 
After that they play their rematch with the Light Blues in Canton, Mass., just outside of Boston, and finish up June 28 in Canton against the Ontario Blues.