USA Classic Eagles – World Rugby Classics

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hamilton, Bermuda – The USA Classic Eagles have assembled on the island of Bermuda for the 25th Annual World Classic Rugby Tournament.  Team trainings have been going well for the Classic Eagles and according to Captain, Kevin Whitcher, the depth of talent available to the Classic Eagles team this year has created a buzz on the island.

“It is great to have the likes of Mark Griffin, Douglas Rowe, Michael Harvey and Eric Masterson back for the team but we are equally pleased to have forward Hayden Mexted and back Andre Snyman in the team this year,” said Whitcher.

“We will be looking to Mexted to toughen up the forwards and bring a new level of intensity to the game, while we are looking to Snyman to lock down the backline and bring leadership to the midfield,” continued Whitcher.

The first game of the tournament for the Classic Eagles will be against the former South African Springbok Legends tonight, November 10 @ 8:30 pm (Bermuda time).

“At our age, ” continued Whitcher, “it is great to still be able to play top level rugby against some of the best players of recent times and be competitive.

“We expect the game against the South African team to be a very physical encounter, but we are confident that we have the caliber of players to compete against the likes of the South African Legends team and are ready for whatever they throw at us,” continued Whitcher.

Back on the pitch for the USA will be full-back John Buchholz who has a potent step and given space can be dangerous on attack.  The team will be looking to Dennis Walker to keep the defense honest in the unopposed scrums while living up to his reputation of being a useful ball carrier.

Whitcher went on to express the eagerness of the Classic Eagles to be on the pitch and represent their country once again, and on a stage such as the World Rugby Classic.  It gives them the chance to show their ability as individutals and as a team.

Roster for November 10 @ 8:30 pm (Bermuda time):

Classic Eagles 2012 vs South Africa
1 Chris Moreno
2 Mark Griffin
3 Dennis Walker
4 Matt Doubek
5 Justin Clark
6 Don Younger
7 Kevin Whitcher
8 Haden Mexted
9 Doug Rowe
10 Leif Gibson
11 Mike Harvey
12 Simon Dogbe
13 Andre Snyman
14 Louis Tulio
15 John Buchholz
16 Eric Masterson
17 Leon Neville
18 Guy Mumford
19 Kregg Hyer
20 Clinton Camp
21 Tyler Dees
22 Hal Struckman
23 Mick Hurley


Referee Leah Berard Represents USA Rugby in Singapore

Leah Berard Officiating in Singapore

Leah Berard, an American referee from Minnesota, recently represented USA Rugby at the Singapore Sevens International Rugby Tournament.  As you will see, she made quite the splash…

Leah Berard: “There were 20 high level men’s 7s teams from all over the world including Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Scotland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Kenya. Games took place over three days culminating with the bowl, plate and cup finals on Sunday. There was a slight lightning delay with monsoon rains on the final day, but it did not deter the spirit of the festivities. Fans took to the pitch to show their best swan dives in the puddles. I had the luxury of reffing the first game after the games resumed and did a swan dive myself. I was running in with a player on a breakaway, and a player cut in behind and tangled my feet. The crowd was very entertained. 🙂

Singapore Rugby Sevens Flyer

I ended up doing the plate final between the Pyranees and Cottlesloe with Cottlesloe running away with it. Daveta, a team from Fiji and defending champs, beat Ecosse, a team from Scotland, in a hard fought battle in the cup final.”

To learn more about USA Rugby’s high performance referees and to see where they will be traveling next, follow USA Rugby referees on facebook!

Olympic Voice November 2012 Athlete of the Month: Bui Baravilala

NOVEMBER 1 – 15, 2012

Women’s Rugby 7s

Enthusiastic. Exciting. Fun. These are the words that describe the energy surrounding the USA Women’s Rugby 7s team. As the youngest member of the team, Bui Baravilala embodies the characteristics of the team with an infectious personality and a smile that never seems to go away.

Bui grew up in Honolulu, playing basketball and running track at Radford High School. While she was a student at Radford, area schools began to incorporate rugby into their sports programs and Bui’s father was selected to coach at her high school. Bui knew that she and her friends from other sports would be necessary to fill out the roster and she was especially interested in playing because her father and grandfather had played rugby in competitive leagues.

Bui moved on to a club team in Hawaii that traveled to a tournament in Las Vegas in 2010. While there, USA 7s Eagles Head Coach Ric Suggitt noticed Bui’s potential and invited her to participate in USA developmental camps over the next two years.

When it was announced that Rugby 7s would join the Olympics in 2016, Coach Suggitt named Bui as one of the first seven women’s rugby players to receive a training contract from USA Rugby.

Since moving to the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center in January 2012, Bui has drawn substantially closer to her teammates. “It’s been amazing. It’s so fun living out here with the team.” Indeed, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the humor of the coaching staff and team; they can be found joking around at all hours of the day. Because the team is together 24/7, they’ve learned to balance light-hearted jokes with the focus of getting better each and every day.

With the chance to concentrate on rugby professionally, Bui has also taken huge strides on the pitch – she has transformed from a high school basketball player scrambling to include her friends in a new sport to one of the most talented rugby athletes in the country. Her skills were on full display during two recent tournaments. At Amsterdam Sevens, she was named Player of the Tournament and at the recent Guangzhou Zengcheng Women’s Invitational in China, Bui scored six tries and 15 conversions to lead the team in both categories. The Eagles won the championship over South Africa and they outscored all opponents with 249 for the team and only 12 points scored against the team in all six games.

Bui and the USA women feel confident that their momentum will carry over to the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series which will take place over four events in Dubai, Houston, Guangzhou and Amsterdam spanning from November 2012 to May 2013.

Read the full November issue of the Olympic Voice!

Enjoying China w/out Social Media – Women’s 7s

I know. It seems unfathomable, but there is no Facebook in China. Nor Twitter. So all of us that ignorantly assumed we’d be keeping in touch through social media were rudely awakened. Nevertheless, we have found alternative ways of communication (what? There are other ways to interact?!) and entertainment. We have taken lots of video of us dancing and singing and being otherwise ridiculous.

So we’re really enjoying China. We’ve even got liaisons teaching us Chinese. I would share some, but I already butcher it when I speak, so I don’t even want to attempt to type it.

But that’s just off the field. We’ve had some excellent training sessions while here, and are feeling really confident heading in to the games tomorrow! Today, we got to have a captain’s run in the stadium, and no lie… We had a police escort through town to get us there. Weird, but also cool. The Chinese are treating us really well. The the girls were in their sneakers, while the kickers were allowed to practice drop goals in cleats. Christy, Bui and I slotted a few through the posts while the rest of the team worked on line outs, and then we brought it in for some pictures. It’s a great stadium, and I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow.

We’ve got Singapore up first at 11:52 am. Word on the street is that you can stream the game here:

Right now, I’ve got to head to a pool session to stay loose before the big show. Even though we can’t access social media, we love the virtual support from back home. Jersey ceremony tonight and then a few more hours until kick off. We’re ready.


— Kimber

Kimber Rozier
USA Eagle’s 7s

Flying ‘N’ Class to China – Women’s 7s

The last time the residents played together as a team, we lost to Canada (#&@!$) in the last minutes of the final of the Amsterdam Sevens tournament. We attacked training after that.

After 5 months of off-season training and literally hitting the ground running, we are geared to leave for our first tour since then: China.

Guangzhou, China is one of the four stops on the Women’s IRB Sevens Circuit for 2013, but that won’t take place for a few months. So it came as a bit of a surprise to all of us when Ric announced we’d be leaving for China in October. The Eagles have been invited to a sort of trial run for the official IRB tournament.

One of the craziest things about playing so far away is getting accustomed to the time zone change. I mean, we have to completely switch our internal clocks within a matter of a few days. Because we arrive on Thursday and our first match is on Saturday, there’s no time for jet lag.

That means I will be thoroughly entertaining myself with a book, movies and my hilarious teammates for the first few (by few I mean about 7) hours of the flight while we all try to stay awake until a sort of normal sleeping time in China. It will be 5 am when we arrive there, so we’ll get to sleep during the second half. Talk about a long flight. Also, we are flying in ‘N’ class on China Southern. Not really sure what that means, but I do know “A” is the first. So….

This morning we had a training session on the field to sharpen everything up and stay mentally focused. Travel days are especially difficult for that, so it was a good thing we got a chance to train. Afterwards, we recovered in the pool, Michael Phelps style, even though the water was less than warm.

I spent the rest of the day shopping for food. The amount of non-perishable/dried food I bought is rather ridiculous, but I mean, we can’t eat the meat there and you don’t want to be having stomach problems because of foreign food. I’m all about Chinese food, but I’ll stick with jerky and dried seaweed for now (try not to be jealous…).

But really, there are so many distractions that go along with a tour. Especially now that we live and train here at the OTC full-time. We’re used to playing at home on our field, and this will be new territory. We’ll be surrounded by a different culture and a different language. We’re going to have to rearrange our sleep cycle. The food thing is just a completely different story.

It can be stressful navigating airports and trying to organize a group of people to get to the same place at the same time.

Between London and Amsterdam, we almost didn’t make the flight due to our connection and insane security in Germany, and would have been playing without a coach, but we managed to stop the plane somehow. I also got lost in the airport on that tour. Needless to say, distractions happen. And all of that is in addition to the pressure that comes with playing for your country in front of a lot of people. But we aren’t fooled by the bright lights — because pressure is the air we breathe.

Speaking of air, this youtube video pretty much says it all.

What is pressure? The air we breathe.

See you in a different time zone.

– Kimber

Kimber Rozier
USA 7sEagle

ARC Prep Day 5 – with Casey Clark

I woke this morning relieved that the hard training sessions were finished, but anxious for the travel and tournament that lay ahead.

After a quick breakfast I packed my bags and joined the rest of the team in the lobby of the hotel. A mountain of team bags were being brought down from the physio room and collecting in the lobby. Once the bus was loaded we made our slightly less than punctual departure to the airport.

Upon arriving at the San Francisco airport we unloaded the bus at terminal 2, then had to trek to terminal 1. After multiple people through security mistook us for a Soccer team or a sailing team, we made it to the gate and finally into the flying sardine can that was our plane.

The team got to Victoria and made it through customs without incident…most of us.   After a short bus ride we at some lunch at the hotel and enjoyed a great view.

Practice for the day was very light — just some positioning for kick offs and receptions.  With only one practice before the games begin, the excitement is mounting.  It’s go time!

— Casey

Casey Clark

ARC Prep Day 4 – with Zach Fenoglio

Another day of camp is in the books out here in San Francisco. Today marked our fourth day in camp and last day of two-a-days before heading off to Canada.

The day started off with a solid breakfast and treatment before heading off to train at Treasure Island. This morning we continued to focus on setting up various pieces of our offensive and defensive structures as a team. Forwards continued to work on the breakdown and our position specific pattern while the backs sat in a circle and talked about their feelings, both proved fruitful. We wrapped things up with some team pattern before packing up and heading back to our hotel to get our feet up for some rest.

For lunch many visited the local Togo’s sandwich spot, where many had consistently ventured with the #1 All natural chicken sandwich.  Today, however, saw a different change of pace with an overwhelming amount going with the #24 Turkey and Avocado. After lunch, some caught a few “z’s”, others received treatment for injuries from the various wear and tear of camp, while others discovered first-hand how bad Cowboys v Aliens really is…

Time came around for the second training of the day, where we met for a 30 minute classroom session before heading out to the field. We said goodbye to Coach Payne as he was only able to stay with us for the San Fran portion of the tour, and we were very thankful for his time while he was here (the cool van will carry on his mission while he is gone!).

In the second training we focused on our team defense off of set pieces, and when we split the forwards worked on defensive lineouts and the backs continued to work on how to best maintain their hairstyles while training. We ended the session with some more team situational phase and kickoff returns.

Overall, it was a really great day for our team. We are continuing to grow as a team both on and off the field. Our hard work has proved beneficial as our progress has really shown in each of our practices. Coach Tolkin has put in a great pattern for us and the players are really reacting well to the task at hand.

Tomorrow we have a long day as we will be flying up to Canada in the morning. The boys are very excited to get across the border and work on our final preparations before we take on the Pumas on Friday!

The trip continues to be a true blessing, and all of us are honored to be here and have the opportunity to represent our country, our friends and families, our clubs at home, and all of you out there reading! Thanks for tuning in!

– Zach

Zachary T. Fenoglio
Glendale Raptors RFC

ARC Prep Day 3 – with Miles Craigwell

Tight legs, bruised shoulders, and stiff necks… a brief account of how most of the boys are feeling as we lace up our boots for Day 3. So much to do, so much to go over, so little time. With that said, it’s great to see our team chemistry, attack patterns, and overall fluidity come to shape prior to our departure to Victoria. This mornings practice started with a great counter attack session; high balls, motions with the back 3, a bit of ‘chip ‘n chase’ action, and footwork in the open space. From there, we practiced our defense; a long period of 5 on 5 tackling drills, with a high focus on being physical and aggressive at the breakdowns of the ruck. This session was pretty intense as most of the smaller guys had a point to prove to those of bigger stature, and the bigger guys, well, just wanted to prove who was boss. Nonetheless, it was a great period to not only get some aggression out but provide some tackling technique that will help prepare us for the game we have later this week. After that, we worked on our defensive alignment, in particular our line speed and communication across the front. It was all about recognition, alignment, and execution.

Afternoon session means Thunder Dome time! Mouthpieces in, tackle suits on, it’s time to go!. A physical period of tackling, cleaning over rucks, assuring offloads, and one on one footwork. At the conclusion of this grueling period we went straight into a great session of recognizing a weak/injured/or miss match defender and attacking that hole in our oppositions defense. We had to quickly recognizing the miss match, get the ball quickly to that space, and attack that space with support options on either side of the ball carrier. It seemed as if everything leading up to this point today was to gradually prepare us for our team run that eventually ended our training for Day 3. Overall, it was a great day, miles ahead of our performance the day prior, and can only imagine leaps and bounds to what lies in store tomorrow!

The ice in our baths have melted, our meals are deep in the linings our stomachs, and our bodies are tucked under 800 count feather quilts. Haha! Signing off!

Yours truly,



Miles Craigwell

ARC Training Day 1 – with Nick Civetta

Walking onto the pitch after a long day of travel,  most of us felt a bit unprepared for the session ahead.  Our attitude, or at least, my attitude, was improved when the six F-16A warplanes comprising the blue angels screamed over head, scorching the air with their afterburners and disappearing over the San Francisco Bay.  Tired, tight legs from a day’s worth of cramped plane travel had to wake up quickly — the dreaded yo-yo test awaited the men of the USA Selects.

The true All-American awesomeness that is the Blue Angels soon became a bit of an issue, as the near-constant, deafening engine noise prevented us from hearing the “beeps” that separated the levels of the test.  But we pushed through, because, ya know, ya gotta make a good first impression.  The proceeding training was a light one, with most of the time spent going over our system and rolling plays.

For dinner, we descended upon a legendary local buffet called Brennan’s, the site of many Cal First XV dinners, and our dining home for the camp portion of the trip.  We filled ourselves with prime rib, mac n’ cheese, and all other sorts of good n’ tasty n’ healthy muscle-building foods.

A good nights sleep would prove tantamount in conquering the obstacles of our first full day of training.  Contact and ruck defense took up the morning, followed by a cerebral introduction into our line-out system, scrum technique and rolling play rounded.  Two of us–myself and the esteemed Mr. Taylor Mokate–managed to forget our boots back at the hotel for the afternoon session.  Thankfully, the generosity and general aptitude displayed by our teammates provided us with some back up pairs (granted mine were a few sizes too small) and we made it through practice without humiliation.  We finished off the day with another buffet dinner at Brennan’s and some rehab and massage.

Well, thats all for now, off to the ice bath.

– Nick

Nick Civetta
Notre Dame/Cal, NYAC.

Nate Brakeley Recaps Win over Connacht

Game day saw us up at 8:00 for a 9:00 departure. Although our match against Connacht didn’t start until 3, we had no interest in sitting around the hotel, and we also had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us to Galway. Piling into the bus, Mr. 27, our fearless driver, began the trek across the country. Midway through the journey we stopped off at a park along the way to stretch our legs and walk through the game plan once more. Having only five real practices under our belt, the extra reps were a good reinforcement of what was still fairly new to most of us. After that, the next stop was lunch, followed by arrival at the stadium.

Once we arrived, we clicked into game mode and focused on the competition to come. Coach Sherman encouraged us to start the game confident in our skills and physicality, rather than waiting around until the second half to discover that we could hang with the Irish. Despite going up with an early 3-0 lead, Connacht made good use of their wind advantage to keep us in our own half. They managed to capitalize twice off the sustained pressure, putting us down 14-3 at half.

The halftime chat focused around playing less panicked, and making better use of our superior forward pack. We did just that, with the wind now in our favor, and after a number of forward phases, Chris Saint scampered across the goal line. After a successful conversion, the score sat at 14-10. Strong defense, as well as further heavy use of the forward pack led to two more consecutive penalties to put the All Americans ahead 16-14. Connacht notched the next penalty, followed by another for the US to finish the scoring at 19-17.

Connacht did have a number of chances to retake the game. The All Americans managed a number of goal line stands as well as some key defensive poaches that kept Connacht off the scoreboard. The Irish also missed a penalty from about 40 meters out late in the game that would have put them ahead.

Post match Connacht hosted us at a local hotel for dinner, as well as an exchanging of awards and memorabilia.  After dinner, we had a well deserved night off to enjoy the city of Swords.

The day after a game is always a challenge, starting with the challenge of dragging a very sore and reluctant body out of bed. We stumbled into the pool for a recovery session followed by a big brunch. We had no rugby planned for the day– it was to be a day off both mentally and physically. But that’s not to say it would be an uneventful day.

Sunday’s adventures began at the Guinness Storehouse, where we drank in a bit of the country’s rich history, and a bit of their national pride. Fun fact: the lease for the land the Guinness Storehouse was signed in the 1800s, and is for 9000 years. That’s right, 9000.

The next excitement was a hurling match, Galway versus Cork, in the national semi-final. It was to be the first hurling match for all the players. We were immediately struck by the enormous distances the players were able to hit the ball, as well as the pin point accuracy they managed while being whacked and harassed by opposing players. Another neat element of the sport is that it is completely amateur– none of the players receive any compensation for their efforts. This pure form of sport, driven only by the players’ passion for the competition, reminded us of the current state of rugby in the United States. All of us left the stadium very excited and very impressed.

We rounded out the day with a dinner on the town– Italian– and a quick team meeting. Anticipating Monday’s pregame build-up we quickly climbed into bed after that.