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U20s Starting on Time This Season

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U20s Starting on Time This Season

After two years of late starts, the USA U20 program looks to be getting a more punctual buildup to the 2015 season.

Indications are that USA Rugby 15s HP Director Billy Millard will coach the team with a team of assistants that includes Michael Engelbrecht. The coaches have invited a group of players to a camp in Florida just before Thanskgiving - giving them a head-start on the usual December camp.

According to Engelbrecht, about 90% of players who were in camps last year and have not aged out will be back for the November camp. Some can’t get away from school (captain Ollie Drew is one of those), but will be available for the camp in December.

The player pool is likely to be larger this year, as the needs of the team have changed a little bit. Normally, the U20s have trained specifically for the Junior World Rugby Trophy. But this season, the International Rugby Board has decided to institute a qualification process. So now the USA, which finished 3rd in last year’s JWRT, will play Canada in a two-game series in March.

The JWRT will be held in Portugal May 7-24, and as usual that means that many playoff-bound college teams won’t be able to release players for that tournament (and there’s missed exam time, too). This is an annual problem for the USA team, and means the players on the Junior All Americans come from a variety of sources.

But in March, it’s possible the situation is different. At that time freshmen from top colleges might be able to get away to help the USA qualify for the JWRT. As a result, the player pool for March and the player pool for May might be very different, and Millard, Englebrecht, et al will have to monitor all of those potential players.

In addition, the U20 program is looking at some overseas players - this year we have already seen Ben Tarr jump from playing in Australia to playing for the U20s to being on the full Eagles squad for the fall tour. Players from England and France are expected in camp for the U20s this year.

Players who have not been invited to the November camp can still get poked at. Send information to Michael Engelbrecht at mengelbrecht@quins.com - full-game video is recommended.

Upcoming USA U20s dates:
November Camp, Tigertown, Tampa, Fla. Nov. 21-26
Winter Camp the week after Christmas, location TBA
USA U20s v Canada U20s March, 2015 (tentative dates 3/24 and 3/28), most likely in British Columbia
Junior World Rugby Trophy, Portugal, May 7-24, 2015