Thirty young American players and coaches are arriving in England this week on Premiership Rugby Scholarships as part of a ground-breaking initiative in partnership with the Friends of the British Council, AEG Rugby, USA Rugby and NBC Sports.
As part of the legacy from Newcastle Falcons’ Aviva Premiership Rugby clash with Saracens in Philadelphia earlier in the season 20 teenage players and 15 coaches were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to England and spend a week with Premiership Rugby clubs. They will look at what it takes to be a coach or player in the best and most competitive league in the world whilst taking part in a series of high-level rugby and knowledge transfer sessions.
This is the moment Dysheanna Adger from Shreveport, Louisiana discovers she has won a Premiership Rugby Scholarship
The American Series – which kicked off with the Newcastle Falcons and Saracens match – brought together new grassroots opportunities for the American rugby community including:
• Clinics for players aged 15-24
• Coach Education Clinics
• Youth Flag Rugby Tournament
The majority of players and coaches were selected from a series of rugby clinics staged across the east coast of America in the run-up to Newcastle Falcons clash with Saracens at the Talen Energy Stadium. Those unable to attend were able to make their video submission for a Scholarship place.
The successful applicants are in England – for an all-expenses paid trip – to see Premiership Rugby’s world-class community programming and performance systems.
“Premiership Rugby is delighted with the first year of this legacy programme which engaged more than 1,000 young American players and dozens of coaches and match officials as we delivered sessions in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC,” said Wayne Morris, the CSR and Community Director at Premiership Rugby.
“The culmination of the work saw the selection of these coaches and players and we can’t wait to see them when they will spend time looking at and learning from our world-class processes.
“When we approached USA Rugby to stage this regular season match in Philadelphia we discussed not only the match and long term growth, but engagement and sustainability at the grassroots level. It is the perfect fit for Premiership Rugby as we carry out community work every week of the season.
“We feel this is the best way to help grow the game in the United States, bringing high-quality coach, referee and player development opportunities and then welcoming players and coaches back to England.”
Through the generous support of individual donors the Friends of the British Council has been a key partner in the establishment of the scholarships. Erin Sullivan, Executive Director of the Friends of the British Council said: “Rugby is a dynamic game born in England but made for America in so many ways, so we felt this initiative was a great way to give grassroots rugby in America a boost. We hope to build on the community outreach initiatives like this in the future.
“The coaches and players come from all across America representing 18 states including a coach from Kahuku Rugby Club, Oahu, Hawaii and a female player from Plano Rugby, Texas.
“Our goal is to broaden the appeal and values of the game, so the candidates were not only selected for their rugby potential, but on their rugby values and character.
“This international experience will empower the chosen players and coaches to return to the US with a growth mindset of sharing what they learned with their peers and communities. They will join the global community of rugby ambassadors.
“The combination of Premiership Rugby’s quality and expertise, USA Rugby’s nationwide base of dedicated volunteers, fans, players and practitioners, NBC Sports’ platforms and reach and AEG’s creativity and vision shows we have a wonderful collaborative partnership developing.”
Dan Lyle the former Bath Rugby and Leicester Tigers No 8 who now heads up the new AEG Rugby division added: “We were delighted to welcome Newcastle Falcons and Saracens to Philadelphia but we – and our partners – wanted more from the American Series.
“We want aspiration for young boys and girls to give coaches a full immersion with professionals which we will achieve this through this programme which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, something we can all be very proud of. AEG can’t wait to welcome them to England and continuing in 2018 and beyond.”
The 35 selected Scholarship Winners are:
Mark Patterson – Wellington Wizards, Florida
Tom Petit – Northern Illinois University Women & Sycamore High School, Illinois
Laura Miller – Life University, Atlanta, Georgia
Jeff Murphy – TC Williams High School, Alexandria, Virginia
Kirsten Clardy – Anacostia High School, Washington, D.C.
Katherine Aversano – Fort Hunt High School, Virginia
Rebecca Trapp – Youngstown State University, Ohio
Chris Ward – Blackthorn High School, Pennsylvania
Valerie Connolly – Germantown, Maryland
Jennifer Jones – Rutgers University, New Jersey
Sean Lindersmith – United States Coast Guard, San Diego, California
Pat Moroney – Christian Brothers Academy, New Jersey
Nusi Tukuafu – Kahuku Rugby Club, Oahu, Hawaii
Kevin Phillipson – St Andrews University, North Carolina
Alie Ramage – Morris Rugby, Morristown, New Jersey
Dysheanna Adger – SHARC, Shreveport, Louisiana
Samantha Tancredi – North Bay Rugby, Maryland
Emily Henrich – Orchard Park, New York
Clara Lemal-Brown – Hudson, Ohio
Ubaida Ahmed – Fort Hunt High School, Alexandria, Virginia
Tre’yana Elliot – Washington, D.C.
Tiara Holt – Washington, D.C.
Bri Renteria – Egan Rugby, Minnesota
Stella Gresham – Plano Rugby, Texas
Hunter Musson – Union Academy, New Jersey
Richi Cilinceon – Charlotte Tigers High School, Charlotte, North Carolina
Axel Arias – Loudoun Rugby, North Virginia
Ian Cleveland – Dufur, Oregon
Sebastiano Villani – Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Connecticut
Blake Andrews – Elizabeth Town Blues, Pennsylvania
Koryan Harris – Chambersburg Trojan Rugby, Fayetteville, Pennsylvania
Jack Desmond – La Salle College High School, Glenside, Pennsylvania
Colby-Allen Rigg – West Shore United Rugby, Pennsylvania
Elonte Davis-Jones – Washington D.C.