June 14, 2016
Salt Lake City, UT—Rugby Utah, in partnership with Utah Youth Rugby, hosted the second annual Talent Combine in partnership with USA Rugby’s National Tracking Camp system where close to 140 athletes were tested and tried out for their respective USA National Teams.
Boys, girls, men and women all descended on Alpine, Utah’s Burgess Field to be put through their paces in speed, power and endurance test as well as skill drills and team play scenarios.
“The Talent Combine is a great place for our rugby players to measure themselves against the best,” said Rugby Utah director Kimball Kjar, “We had a lot of solid players out there today and I’m sure there are a few talented nuggets that will be getting some call ups shortly.”
USA Rugby U20 Head Coach JD Stephenson, who was on hand assessing talent echoed Kjar’s sentiment.
“The National Tracking Camps continue to impress with a high standard of rugby athleticism and skill competencies on show,” Stephenson said, “The Rugby Utah NTC was a fine example of the high standard of rugby players that are being developed in Utah. From the number of athletes at the event we were able to identify, evaluate and systematically record metrics that are now being used in the selection vehicle for the Boy’s, Girl’s, Men’s and Women’s National Team programs. Hats off to Rugby Utah for a well run event.”
Showcasing their skills were many current and former National Team members like former USA U20 captain Calvin Whiting, an All American at Brigham Young University and former University of Utah All American Don Pati who is looking to return to top form with the USA National Team.
After the testing and assessment period Utah Youth Rugby (UYR) and Rugby Colorado All-Star Teams featured in some showcase games with both Junior Varsity and Varsity players squaring off to round out the day’s activities.
“The combine and friendly matches with Rugby Colorado was an excellent opportunity for us to get an in-depth look at our talent pool,” said Utah Youth Rugby President Owen Power, “Since the Utah Cannibals boys and girls teams are the official select side for high school rugby in the State of Utah this gave us a good metric to see where those teams are at. We look for skill but also strength of character and sportsmanship and we were very pleased with what we saw on Saturday.”
Utah Youth Rugby continues it’s summer representative team activities with the Utah Cannibals traveling to the Rocky Mountain Challenge, a regional championship event with USA Rugby, on June 18 -19, the Denver 7s on June 25th and the Victoria 7s early in July. The Utah Cannibals are the defending Rocky Mountain Challenge Champions at both the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels. The Utah Cannibals Girls are the defending Denver 7s champions and the U16 Utah Cannibals Boys are the defending Victoria 7s Champions.
Rugby Utah will get their summer activity moving as the ODA 7s, the men’s division select squad, also heads to Denver on June 25th for the Denver 7s Tournament and the Heartland 7s Tournament in Kansas City, MO on July 9th. The ODA will return to the friendly confines of Utah as they play host to the Pioneer 7s Qualifier and Open Championship on July 23rd.