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.