A Closer Look at EIRA U16s
A Closer Look at EIRA U16s
The Eagle Impact Rugby Academy U16 team under Coach Brendan Keane is going to British Columbia for a two-game tour, and it’s an interesting and diverse group.
Some notes on the team:
David Ainuu is a 250-pound prop from the Prairie Mustangs in Yelm, Wash. The Mustangs struggled to field a full team this year, so Ainuu got some time with the Liberty Patriots squad, and played for the Washington Loggers JV team. He has been with the HS All American JV team on their tour to France and Belgium and has all sorts of potential. Two more Washingtonians showed well in JV play, with Chuckanut’s Jack Wending strong in the backs and scrappy freshman Noah Wright was the youngest player in the HSAA winter camp, and didn’t let that set him back.
Jake Erickson out of Motherlode in California was a standout for the NorCal JV team in the recent RCT in Bakersfield, Calif., runner up to Ainuu as JV MVP. Sean Lumkong of the Coastal Dragons is the nephew of former USA No. 8 Rob Lumkong, and his dad played for OMBAC.
The long reach of the EIRA programs is shown in the selection of Christian Newby out of the Triad club in North Carolina. Keane saw Newby in the EIRA camps this past season and recommended him after seeing how, as an 8th-grader, he was the fittest kid in the academy. Newby traveled several hours to make every EIRA session, and certainly showing the commitment says a lot. At 6-1, 224, Quinn Perry is one of the bigger players on the team, and you might expect him at No. 8, but he’s a flyhalf/center with power but also good kicking skills. His dad, Manny, is a prolific stunt performer and coordinator in films and TV shows, starting with The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s and most recently with Taken 3.
Three St. Thomas Aquinas (Kans.) players are on the squad, showing how strong the JV team is in that program - Xavier Doering, Ryan Jurczak, and Steven Rohde provide height, topped by freshman Jurczak’s 6-2 frame.
Chase Schor-Haskin was part of the Atlantis program that played so well in Las Vegas, while at 6-5, 210, Austin Strehlow brings a lot of height and experience playing for Danville’s varsity.
“I’m excited about them,” Keane said of the team. “We’ve got a good mix of kids from different parts of the country; between Salty and me and the other coaches, we’re really optimistic about this group not only now, but going forward.”
Keane said he plans to keep the game plan relatively simple, outlining some basic structures and using them to play smart, open rugby. The biggest competition might well be at scrumhalf and flyhalf.
“We have some good halfbacks but at this age it’s a difficult position to identify players in,” said Keane. “We need to see who steps up and takes a leadership role, and who can perform under a lot of pressure.”