Thursday, August 28, 2014

American Pro Rugby Training Center Post Camp Press Release



New American Rugby Pro Training Center Hosts Successful High Performance Women’s Rugby 7s Camp in Little Rock, Arkansas

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Little Rock, AR: Under brutal 100-degree August heat last weekend, former USA Rugby National 7s Team Head Coach, Jules McCoy, successfully launched American Rugby Pro Training Center with an inaugural high performance camp for Women’s Rugby 7s Olympic hopefuls in training.

“My 4 days at the ARPTC in Little Rock was the best rugby training experience I've had in all of my 5 years as a player. The coaches were so knowledgeable and broke even the most complex ideas down into simple drills that built on each other…Not to mention meeting and instantly connecting with 32 other elite athletes who all share the same dreams as I do. The camp was nothing short of amazing,” said University of California-Berkeley Women’s Rugby Team Captain, Lauren Butler.

Camp attendee Abby Gustaitis shared, “We trained in 100-degree weather from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and I would do it all over again. This was an incredible camp that emphasized the general principles of offense and defense in rugby sevens then allowed us to build on the basics and unite as teams in scrimmages. This 4-day camp allowed us to be in the high performance environment and live as elite athletes including training, eating and playing as such. The camp elevated my game in this short period of time and I'm excited to work with ARPTC in the future to continue to be the best rugby player I can be.”

With a rap sheet of impressive staff and support, including current Women’s National 7s Team Head Coach Ric Suggitt and the “Grandfather of Women’s Rugby 7s” himself, Emil Signes, the ARPTC created an ideal learning environment focused on elite performance and improvement. Highlights of the camp included wrestling matches to teach leverage and leg power in the tackle, “rugby basketball” to reinforce offensive and defensive principles, and a Fantasy Rugby Team Coaches Draft that resulted in a day-long tournament and all close scores.

“The intensity and improvement over the 4 days was brilliant,” remarked Coach McCoy. “And wow, was I impressed by some of the youngsters out there. Grace Flowers from Broken Arrow, OK, at just 16 years of age, showed adult-level, textbook tackling just 3-4 months after collarbone surgery! And 20 year-old Lauren Butler, of ICEF Rugby used impressive running, support and finishing lines, while Cynthia Wright (Furies) and Jessica Turner (Berkeley) were able to role model what hard work in the gym can do for passing, tackling and change of direction.”

With several rugby pitches on site, local government and business support and a fully equipped gym, the ARPTC training center (also a designated Tiger and Atlantis Rugby facility) located at the Greater Little Rock Rugby Complex is perfect for hosting elite level men’s and women’s rugby players and tournaments.

The ARPTC environment energized even the guest coaching staff. "The atmosphere at the ARPTC was electric. You had high-level players working with other high-level players and top coaches learning from one another to produce nothing short of a rugby euphoria. The chance to work alongside such great coaches was an invaluable learning experience,” said guest coach and observer, Billy Nicholas.

Moving forward, Coach McCoy and her staff plan to negotiate contracts for part-time and full-time residencies, including several scholarships, with target number of 15-20 contracted adult players by January 2015. They will likely hold another camp in December with a similar format for women, and then begin a series of men's camps starting in early 2015. The target audience for summer contracts will include high school and college players, both male and female.

All rugby coaches are asked to contact Coach McCoy directly should they identify promising young rugby talent they feel should be included in future camps. Select elite athletes will be given opportunities to try out and become a part of the development program, as well as become eligible for Atlantis and Tiger tours going forward.

For more information on American Rugby Pro Training Center, contact Head Coach, Jules McCoy at

Camp Staff:
Head Coach/Director: Julie McCoy
Camp Director/Asst Coach: Ellie Karvoski
Team Manager(s): Breean Walas/Jen Shields
Strength/Conditioning Coach: Sean Ross
Atlantis Staff Coaches: Emil Signes, Dana Creager
Apex/Tiger/Atlantis Staff Coach: Karl Barth
Guest Coach/Observers: Billy Nicholas/Liz Entwhistle
In Attendance: Coach Ric Suggitt and Leah Berard, Referee

Camp Participants:
Stephanie "Parma"
Elisabeth Grace
Amy Talei
Tracy Kaleikehaulani
Jessica Anne

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Women's High Performance 7s Camp at the American Pro Rugby Training Center

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of 7s activities and I'll write plenty more on it in the coming weeks. At the moment several of our Stars players and staff are at the American Pro Rugby Training Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here's a quick recap of the camp so far:

Today marked  Day Three of the Women’s High Performance 7s Camp hosted by former USA Women’s 7s Coach Julie McCoy at the American Pro Rugby Training Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The camp partnered Atlantis, Stars Rugby 7s and Tiger Rugby to bring in 33 women’s players identified by their coaches and by camp staff.

Players convened in Little Rock on Wednesday for a team dinner and camp introductions to prepare for an early morning on Thursday. The first day opened with fitness testing where Josie Ziluca of the San Diego Surfers, Stephanie Parma of W1823 and Katy Stewart of the DC Furies took top honors. Focus then transitioned to offensive principles of play led by Coach Jules. A huge emphasis of the offensive cycle was on possession, stressing defenses, and identifying weaknesses – factors focused on during the drill portion of the day.  Players additionally worked on the differences between transfer and attack opportunities to create and attack space. The afternoon session emphasized core strength in passing with breaking down the anatomy of a pass and repeated drilling. The day concluded with revisiting a “rugby basketball” game from earlier  in the day. The evening meeting recapped the camp so far with feedback from players and staff alike.

Day two focused entirely on defense and contact – with defensive patterns and alignments, the different “shapes” on the pitch, about how to dis-possess the other team and regain possession to transition to the offensive cycle. Drills and skills broke down the footwork in contact (to step and pop and leg drive), how to use the core to initiate and finish the tackle.  A wrestling session helped players with body control, pinning opponents, using low body leverage, and generating and leveraging lower body power. Cynthia Wright and Katy Stewart of the DC Furies, Nene Persinger of Tulsa, and Abby Gustaitis of NOVA each shined in the head-to-head matchups.  Double-touch rugby put the drills to use in a practical, game situation setting.

A free evening allowed the players to rest prior to this morning’s tournament action. The staff once again reviewed player performance and conducted their player draft for Saturday’s games. Saturday morning saw the players take the pitch after an hour with their coaches to review set pieces, general game play, and lineups/subsitutions. Billy Nicholas of Old Blue Women’s led the Blackballerz side, assisted by Liz Entwhistle of Stars Rugby 7s, against Karl Barth’s (APEX Academy) White Lightning (aka Moonshinez). The Lightning took game one 10-0 with Rhiannon Clark of the DC Furies standing out as a game changer with her breakaway speed to open the try scoring. After a break for the heat (temperatures have been in the upper 90s for the duration of camp) the Lightning took on the Razorbacks led by Dana Creager (and draft advisor USA Rugby Women’s 7s Head Coach Ric Suggit). The Razorbacks won that match 26-10 behind tries from Nene Persinger, Jen Harig of Davenport University, and kicking from Jessica Turner of the Berkeley All Blues. Game three matched the Razorbacks against the Blackballerz with the Blackballerz finding their scoring form early and often; five different players from the Ballerz side dotted down tries and Maggie Olney of the DC Furies converted three of the five kicks. With each team finishing 1-1 the Blackballerz won the tournament pool play based on point differential.

A finals matchup pitted the Ballerz against the Lightning in a rematch of game one The Lightning took an early lead and went into halftime with a 3 try to 1 lead off of strong play from Ashley Perry of the Youngbloodz. The second half saw the Ballerz nearly battle back with tries from Josie Ziluca and Old Blue’s Hannah Gauthreaux, but ultimately the game was won by White Lightning by a score of 24-21.

The afternoon sessions started with film review of the pool play matches and later included a strength and conditioning talk hosted in the American Pro Rugby Training Center’s on campus gym from Sean Ross of Ross Strength and Speed.  The classroom time continued with a Q & A from international referee Leah Berard and was concluded with additional film review of the final match followed by team and individual goal-setting. Tonight’s team activities include a barbeque hosted by the Little Rock Rugby Club while the coaches meet to conduct another round of player evaluations and re-draft for tomorrow’s tournament play.