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All American Camp Asking Much of Elite Players

College Women

All American Camp Asking Much of Elite Players

The All Americans in training - photo tweeted by @aarugby

It's going to be a tough task for the Women's Collegiate All Americans Tuesday as they face the Maple Leafs out of Canada - Head Coach Susan Whitwell knows that.

But Whitwell has also had some time to work with these athletes (see the lineup for Tuesday here) and evaluate them as a unit. 

"The goal was to bring together the elite players under the age of 23 or in college to select the team that will represent the USA against the Maple Leafs," said Whitwell. "The level of rugby continues to get higher. The pace of the game is getting faster, the physicality and efficiency at the point of contact is better.  We are seeing players coming from the Junior All American program with solid skills and game understanding. We are also seeing the benefits of more teams that have solid, consistent coaching."

USA WNT Head Coach pointed out Monday that several of his starting Eagles could be eligible to play for Whitwell, as well.  It's a fair observation, and one that speaks to Whitwell's point about the level of coaching. More varsity programs, and more strong college programs has started to bridge that gap between the elite HS teams and rugby life as an adult. And it means college players who were thought in the past to be a little green are now getting to the higher level faster.

"The thing we hope athletes take away from an event like this is an understanding of what it takes to be an Eagle," said Whitwell. "Being an elite athlete requires good choices regarding lifestyle -    specifically recovery, nutrition, fitness and tools - and to deal with the pressure inherent in the world of elite sport. The goal is to provide an all encompassing approach so the athletes can continue to improve in between assemblies."

The first test of this is Tuesday, where, Whitwell said, controlling the point of contact and the pace of the game are paramount. But it appears the entire project has begun with a set of expectations. The bar is high, as it always has to be at the international level.

The All Americans game will be streamed live 1pm MT here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk0OphsHPfc