Lawrence returns to steer AIG Men’s Junior All-American ship

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BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced Monday the new coaching staff for the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans, welcoming back Scott Lawrence to oversee the program as head coach.

Lawrence previously led the program from 2011 to its 2012 World Rugby U20 Trophy triumph in Salt Lake City, qualifying the U.S. for the following year’s U20 Championship.

“Scott is highly organized, a tremendous educator of young men, and has the ability to get others to buy into the vision,” said USA Rugby Director of Performance Alex Magleby. “The head coach of the Juniors needs to be able to relate to coaches, athletes, and parents in high school, college, and the club game. Scott has the versatility and proven ability to connect these disparate parts.”

For the first time, an MJAA sevens team will also be formed as part of a greater overhaul to the under-20 program. Paul Holmes of Tiger Rugby, a member of USA Rugby’s Olympic Development Academy, will coach the sevens squad under the direction of Lawrence and in collaboration with Eagles Sevens coaches Mike Friday and Chris Brown.

Holmes is well versed in the make-up of American rugby and has been instrumental in creating a multitude of training and touring opportunities for Tiger’s sevens teams, including helping to launch the international career of 2014-15 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Rookie of the Year nomination Perry Baker. Holmes will be assisted by Old Blue Sevens and Northeast Academy coach Stephen Lewis.

D1A Rugby Commissioner Kevin Battle will join the MJAA assistant coach pool as the MJAA academy coach, evaluating the long-term efficacy of a residency academy for junior athletes between high school and college.

Longtime age-grade assistant coach and interim head coach of the MJAAs this spring Michael Engelbrecht joins the MJAA assistant coach pool as the high school player personnel liaison for the team.

University of Notre Dame Sevens coach and former Eagle David Fee, along with current Lindenwood University Head Coach JD Stephenson, round out the MJAA assistant coach pool.

“The 2015-16 coaching pool provides a unique set of complimentary strengths, which will allow us to provide an enhanced development process to the athlete’s normal, daily training environment through cooperative development with coaches and the competitive pressure that representative play brings,” Lawrence said.

“Besides being excellent coaches with representative experience in their own right, Kevin brings consistency in approach from the Men’s Eagles and Michael provides an all-important link to rising HSAA athletes and access to trusted networks for identification as we build on the work of our predecessors.

“David and JD are members of an exciting group of young coaches who, through their efforts, continually drive the standard of play up in collegiate play. Both have the attention to detail we need and do well with young men at 19 and 20 in off-the-field habits required to compete internationally. The context of working with this age group daily is important as we have only measured minutes in our assembly time, and much of our ongoing dialogue will be done through three-way conversations with players and coaches remotely.”

Helping to push the careers of Eagles such as Cam DolanMike PetriScott LaVallaTiti Lamositele, andZack Test, the MJAAs serve young, aspirational rugby athletes at a critical juncture of their development and the national team pathway.

MJAAs provide a unique opportunity to connect our growing high-school player pool to the Collegiate All-Americans and Selects—the last stages of our national team pathway,” said Magleby.

“If done right the program will propel better physically-able and technically-prepared athletes back into the university game or directly into the professional ranks.”

Athletes eligible for selection to the MJAAs include primarily those who have graduated high school in the spring of the next competition cycle, or who have been out of high school for one or two years with a birth date that falls in World Rugby’s under-20 age window. For 2016, that includes athletes born in 1996 and 1997. Additionally, 18-to-20-year-old, U.S.-eligible players competing at high levels in other countries may be considered for selection.

The program has begun to put the pieces in place to ensure it produces athletes capable of representing the Eagles within a two- to four-year window, while also focusing on the individual athlete for future success through academic support, job training, and life-skills acquisition.

The first Junior and Collegiate Stars and Stripes Camp by WellDog was held in July at Cal Maritime Academy, where 12 athletes eligible for under-20 selection worked with the age-grade and senior national team coaches and an additional 55 athletes on track to wear the AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American shirt. Additional under-20-eligible athletes performed at the High School Stars and Stripes Camp the following week.

Updates regarding MJAA assembly and tour dates will be released in due course. For further information on the MJAAs please contact:

Scott Lawrence MJAA Head Coach slawrence@usarugby.org
Paul Holmes MJAA Sevens Head Coach pholmes@usarubgy.org

2015-16 AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Schedule

Date Event Location
May – June, 2015 USA Rugby National Tracking Camps Regional
July 14 – 18, 2015 Welldog Junior and Collegiate Stars and Stripes Camp Vallejo, CA
July 21 – 25, 2015 High School Stars and Stripes Camp Greeley, CO
Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 MJAA Sevens / Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp Chula Vista, CA
TBD MJAA Winter Camp TBD
Spring 2016 MJAA v Canada under-20s USA
Spring 2016 World Rugby U20 Trophy TBD

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