Huuuuuuuuuge Steps for USA Rugby
USA Rugby officially announced its plans for the creation of Men’s and Women’s Elite Player Squads (EPS) for 2008, with the first EPS selections to be held in December by USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations, Nigel Melville.
USA Rugby High Performance programs have shifted their focus on the future and upcoming major international events.
The Men and Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers in 2008, the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009, the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010, and the Men’s Rugby World Cup qualification 2010 and finals in 2011 are all targeted.
Selection for an Elite Player Squad is a significant step towards an Eagles selection, each player will agree an annual playing and training program with the National Team coaches and their Club coach.
And each player will follow an agreed fitness, nutrition and skills program, supported by regular fitness testing and assessments.
USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville is optimistic about the game’s future in this country following the IRB global forum in England. The US supremo was one of 90 delegates invited to the forum.
“I was delighted to receive an invite,” Melville said. “It was an honor to be able to represent the emerging rugby nations and help tackle the issues that we continue to face. It enabled me to protect the USA’s interests on a global level as well as strengthen relationships with other developing countries.”
The crucial starting point of the forum was achieving the 20-team Rugby World Cup competition.
“I believe that if the IRB would have decreased the number of teams in the Rugby World Cup, it would not only slow down the progress of the developing nations, but also detract from the appeal of this truly global event,” added Melville.
Among the issues tabled were the integration of Argentina into the senior international calendar and new initiatives and competition structures to aid the development of the emerging nations. The forum discussed the development of a Tournament of the Americas, in addition to adding more tests between Tier 2 nations.
In conjunction with this forum and the initiatives brought forth, USA Rugby has announced that it plans on holding eight test matches in 2008 and 12 in 2009. The US plans on attending the Churchill Cup throughout June, hosting Irish provincial side Munster and a club from the UK in August, as well as playing three games in November, which have yet to be confirmed.
In the works is the expansion of the NA4 to eight representative teams (four from the US and Canada) in 2009 and then adding two teams from Argentina shortly thereafter. There was also talk of establishing a Five Nations America’s tournament between the USA, Canada, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina in the near future.
“All of these additional matches will obviously help the Tier 2 nations close the gap between the top rugby powers, and we are looking forward to building relationships with the other nations that are focusing on these same goals,” concluded Melville.