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Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers Set For Vegas

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Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers Set For Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV. - With a squad in place, USA Rugby will compete in the North American Region Qualifiers in Las Vegas on Mar. 1-3 to secure their position at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. Lead by Emilie Bydwell on the girls side, and JD Stephenson on the boys side, both teams will seek an opportunity to represent the United States at the Games October 8-18.

"The Youth Olympic Games Qualifier provides an exciting challenge for both our staff and our players," said Girls Head Coach Emilie Bydwell. "This tournament provides an opportunity for our young players to experience and learn to thrive in a high-pressure environment; and through that, coming together to rely on each other to minimize stress and maximize performance."

Following its highly-anticipated return to the Olympics at the Youth and Senior levels in 2014 and 2016, respectively, enthusiasm for Rugby Sevens has continued to climb. And, with the Games returning to the United States in 2028, qualification for this year's Youth Olympics will be even more significant for the next generation of Olympians.

"Any opportunity in which players can be tested and challenged in a competitive daily training environment is fundamental for development," said Boys Head Coach JD Stephenson, describing the value of the competition to overall player growth. "The playing group can expect a challenging first four days prior to selection which would mimic the physical, technical, tactical and psychological demands of a Men's 7s High Performance Camp."

With a week to train, both Bydwell and Stephenson will have a chance to prepare their teams to face Canada, Barbados, Mexico (girls) and Jamaica (boys) in three days of competition. The first two days will consist of preliminary rounds and Semifinals at Silver Bowl Park, with Day Three dedicated to the finals on the main stage at Sam Boyd Stadium.

"We are lucky to be having 5 prep days prior to beginning competition," said Bydwell, noting how scheduling has made an impact on the team's thorough preparation. "The players have been working hard at home on physical preparation plans and we've tried to develop as much collective understanding as possible so we can hit the ground running at camp."

"It's always a challenge when a squad is assembled for the first time to build cohesion and unity in their play, especially when they are vying for selection into the final 12," said Stephenson, describing the intensity and depth of the overall experience. "The staff are cognitive of this fact and have tried to tailor our approach to building cohesion, role clarity and conceptual understanding prior to arrival into camp."



Susan Adegoke

Kapoina Bailey

Kate Buzby

Alex Dimarco

Fane "Eti" Haungatau

Claira Lemal Brown

Taylor Marasco

Sharyf Mayer

Cecilia Pennell 

Olivia Popp

Arianna Ramsey

Maddie Rose

Salote Taulsinga

Camille White



Ty Al-Jiboori

Dante Bandoni

Will Chevalier

Max Clark

Alex Cleary

Jacob Cortinas

Lauina Falatea

Mateo Gadsden

John Grande

Jasper Green

Vili Hopoi

Jalen Lampley

Francisco Ligouri

Sione Mahe

Nikita Moysov

Zach Neff

Jeff Peleseuma

Drew Sanderson

Fatu Teo-Tafiti

Junior Waqavesi 




vs. Mexico W | Fri, Mar. 1 – 12 PM ET

vs. Barbados W | Fri, Mar. 1 – 3:36 PM ET 

vs. Canada W | Sat, Mar. 2 – 12:22 PM ET 



vs. Barbados M | Fri, Mar. 1 – 12:22 PM ET 

vs. Jamaica M | Fri, Mar. 1 – 2:30 PM ET 

vs. Canada M | Sat, Mar. 2 – 12:44 PM ET 




Head Coach - Emilie Bydwell
Performance Analyst - Dave Gardner
Physiotherapist - Katherine Henry 
Program Manager - Anna Kunkel 



Head Coach – JD Stephenson 

Assistant Coach – Brendan Keane

Assistant Coach – David Fee

Physiotherapist – Alan Wallace 

Team Manager – Frank Palumbo 

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