Images provided by Ziluca
It’s all-star season and the USA Rugby Regional Cup Tournaments (RCTs) begin this weekend. By the end of June, five events around the country will have placed thousands of high school athletes in front of USA Rugby age grade scouts and collegiate recruiters. While there are other talent identification venues for high schoolers, USA Rugby has deemed the RCTs the core of that on-going process.
The first event will occur this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Challenge in Denver, and the competition will field Tier 1, Tier 2 and middle school options for the girls. Generally, Tier 1 is for juniors and seniors, and Tier 2 for freshmen and sophomores; however, 16-year-olds have the flexibility to play up or down a level.
Josie Ziluca will be the USA Rugby scout in Denver and was indoctrinated into the age-grade pathway last summer during Futures Sevens Tournament in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Ziluca worked with Martha Daines and the Girls’ High School All-Americans, and leaned on her coaching experience with the Atlantis U18s. During this weekend’s games, Ziluca will be looking for a player who:
- looks to attack on offense and defense, and makes the best decision based on their team at that moment;
- knows how to be strong in contact (as the ball carrier/tackler and as support) and consistently produce(s) a positive action for their team;
- provides, as well as responds with efficient communication in play to their teammates;
- (and team) that know(s) the laws of the game;
- is brave enough to go for the low tackle, confident enough to fend for space, and smart enough to know when to pass the ball;
- is fit, strong, and not afraid to push themselves for their team, every single phase; and
- owns their position and role.
“The stronger the spokes, the stronger the wheel,” Ziluca emphasized.
But that doesn’t mean that a player who is new to the game will be overlooked. Someone who possesses raw, athletic ability will also draw Ziluca’s attention.
“Rugby skills can be developed and ripened,” Ziluca explained. “If they have a high work rate and approach contact situations on the field with power and the will to dominate, then those players will be noticed.
“I’m hoping to have discussions with many of the coaches there concerning their teams and standout players,” the fellow coach continued. “If players are able to stay in an all-star or high-performance environment and compete there, they’ll be setting themselves up for opportunities to develop, push, and be seen.”
For more information on the RCTs, click here.