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Team Bonding, Open Minds Key for U23s Says Williams

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Team Bonding, Open Minds Key for U23s Says Williams

Larry Williams with his Rudy Scholz Award trophy. Photo Derrick Meneken for Washington Athletic Club.

It's all coming up Larry Williams these days, as the West Point prop led his team to a D1A championship, won the Rugby Scholz Award as the best player in the country, was named captain for West Point for next year, and now is part of the USA U23 team going to the Corendon Summer Tour in the Netherlands.

He won't get a big head, though. One of the reasons Williams won the Scholz Award is that he's pretty humble, and he's pretty team-focused.

"The key to creating a team ethos in such a short amount of time is actually connecting and bonding with one another," Williams told Goff Rugby Report. "As soon as we all touch down in Amsterdam, we have got to focus on each other so we can build that baseline of trust within each other. I think if we are able to do that quickly and build trust right away, I think that everything else will really fall in to place as it should. Everyone has been selected for a reason and it is because they work hard and are talented at what they do."

The U23 team is made up almost entire of college players, although there are a couple of MLR academy players in there, too. There's a strong military academy presence, which is something we haven't always seen. For Williams, there's that mix of players he knows and players he doesn't.

"I have played with and against a lot of these guys, I think I am most excited to reconnect with my teammates KoiKoi Nelligan and Collin Grosse, who I thought I would never get the opportunity to play with again," Williams said. "It will be very exciting. I am also excited to play with Doyle Hedgepeth from Queens University. We have grown close over the last couple of years and it will be exciting to work with him. I honestly excited have everyone as a teammate, and I am excited to work with this top tier coaching staff. I know that everyone is going to show up ready to work and I love that out of a group of people."

The USA U23s will face off with Belgium and the Netherlands, teams they don;t normally face. In fact, for some time, the U23 or, before them, the Collegiate All Americans, have only faced Canada. This is a return, somewhat, to the touring aspect of rugby for what was the All American program and is now the U18, U20, and U23 teams. It is also a chance to see different ways of playing.

"This will be an interesting challenge," said Williams. "I think that we have been talking about each aspect of the game, so that we can become good and connected within each pillar of the game. There are tons more kicking exchanges in matches now than there previously were and it is because it gives teams such a great opportunity to turn the tide of the game. At West Point, Coach [Matt] Sherman preaches how important the kicking game is from the kick chase to the set up. It is important to have a good kicking game to be an effective rugby team in international play.

And for Williams himself, he said this is a chance to be better.

"I look at this as an opportunity to refine my craft and become the best version of myself that I can possibly be. I know that the players selected will push me to be the best player and person that I can be. Although my immediate goal is not to go pro or play internationally, as I have one more year of school, I think this is a good way to improve myself and see where I stand in terms of playing against international competition. I one day hope to play professionally and for the Eagles and I think that this is a nice way to see where I am at and see what areas of my game I need to improve."