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California Grizzlies U23s Embark on Argentina Tour

irish rugby tours

California Grizzlies U23s Embark on Argentina Tour

The California Grizzlies in their cool new kit get ready for their first game.

The California Grizzlies U23 team is set to embark on a tour to Argentina, bringing back a longstanding select-side name and reinvigorating something we haven't seen much of in a while—the regional select-side tour.

The tour will run from June 16 to June 24, with the first game being against Club Atletico on June 17.

The Grizzlies team is made up of emerging talent from the D1A California Collegiate Conference teams, California natives currently playing collegiate rugby out-of-state, and young local high school talent. 

California Grizzlies Director of Rugby, Adriaan Ferris, has assembled a strong coaching group that includes USA U23 Head Coach Paul Keeler (Santa Clara University), along with leading California-based collegiate coaches Neil Foote (UCSB), Jason Merril (SDSU), and former US Eagle Chris O’Brien (Cal Poly).

The Grizzlies have been established to assist the development effort of US eligible players and coaches from high school, collegiate and club level. “The aim for the tour is to provide a high performance touring experience that players and coaches can use as a part of their ongoing development," said Ferris.

The 34-man team will play three matches on a tour made possible through the generous investment of principal sponsor, California Capital and Investments Group (CCIG). The Grizzlies expressed their thanks to Phil Tagami, CEO of CCIG, for supporting the California Grizzlies and the growth of US rugby.

Saint Mary's which made the final of the 2022 D1A championships, contributes 11 players to the roster of 34, and that roster includes players from nine different collegiate teams. For all players selected, the June tour could be the start of a big summer of rugby, with the US National U20 and U23 teams being set to embark on a European tour in July. A number of Grizzlies players are in the frame for National Team selection.

the Grizzlies program has been rebuilding since coming out of the COVID pandemic, with men's and women's teams working in skills and ID camps before graduating to games against opposition mostly on the West Coast. This tour, however, marks a major step forward that harkens back to the days, not really all that long ago, when touring was an important part of the rugby experience.

California Grizzlies U23s 2022 Tour Roster:
Angelo Aguirre - Saint Mary's College of California
Coby Baker - California Polytechnic State University
Danny Bray - University of California, Santa Barbara
Ryan Chambers - University of California, Santa Barbara
Rory Corr - University of California, Los Angeles
Daelen Denenberg - Santa Clara University 
Tom Dowling - University of California, Davis
Royce Fisher - Grand Canyon University
Daniel Fukofuka - Saint Mary's College of California
Jonathan Hackett - Saint Mary's College of California
Aiden Howe - Saint Mary's College of California
Kaipono Kayashi - Saint Mary's College of California
Karl Keane - Saint Mary's College of California
Edward King - Saint Mary's College of California (late scratch)
Emanuel Lai - Santa Clara University
Gabe Mahuinga - Brigham Young University
Jackson Marchant - California Polytechnic State University
Joe Marchant - Saint Mary's College of California
Sean McElligott - Grand Canyon University
Ronnie McElligott - Saint Mary's College of California
Marcus Nguyen - University of California, Santa Barbara
Reese Prefontaine - Grand Canyon University
Benji Rogers - Santa Clara University 
Rand Santos - Life Chiropractic College West
Aiden Sarafin - Santa Clara University 
Erich Storti - Saint Mary's College of California
Mario Storti - Saint Mary's College of California
Jared Tavares - Grand Canyon University
Quinton Tindel - California Polytechnic State University
Ben Voelz - Santa Clara University 
Ryan Wenstrom - California Polytechnic State University
Jack Zilligen - California Polytechnic State University

Coaching & Management Staff
Head Coach - Paul Keeler - Santa Clara University 
Assistant Coach - Neil Foote - University of California, Santa Barbara
Assistant Coach - Chris O’Brien - California Polytechnic State University
Assistant Coach - Jason Merril - San Diego State University 
Performance Analyst - Marshall Ferris
Team Doctor - Dr. Kelly Farmer
Athletic Trainer - Dylan Green
Director of Rugby - Adriaan Ferris