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Chadwick Interview Extras

  • 27 Jul 2018

Chadwick with Northeast Academy squad for NDA 7s (Photo: Max Haynes)

I interviewed Rsyzard Chadwick last week, mostly to talk about the New York 7s team qualifying for club 7s nationals (read more). The conversation wended through many topics that didn’t quite fit the club 7s article, so below are some outtakes that involved National Development Academies (NDAs) and the national team.

Background: Chadwick works with high schoolers through Play Rugby Academy (and previously with the CDOP, which is trying to rebuild the player pool under new leadership) and is currently in Saranac Lake with the girls’ Futures Sevens assembly; club 7s and WPL 15s with New York; and national team-aspiring players at the Northeast Academy. So he’s seeing athletes at different levels/stages of the game.

The published article talks about June’s NDA 7s showcase at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (CVEATC), and Chadwick and other academy coaches raved about the professional feel and exposure to the 7s Eagles (there’s one fun quote of a Northeast player being starstruck in the CVEATC weight room, marveling as Heavirland, Kelter and Carlyle work out). He talked about building the NDA 7s into something even bigger, in collaboration with USA 7s head coach Richie Walker and USA Rugby Women’s HP Manager Emilie Bydwell.

“Emilie and Richie see really good value in the academies,” Chadwick said of open lines of communication. “I’m not sure whether it’s an officially formalized process within USA Rugby; [i.e.,] I don’t think any academy receives any kind of funding or sponsorship from USA Rugby. But I think there’s a really cool vision from the Eagles to the Falcons and the academies, and just creating a pipeline of mass talent all over the country. It does work. We’ve seen it work from multiple academy systems.”

That link got even stronger when Walker created slots at the CVEATC that could be sponsored by NDAs (read more). After a few months of training within the USA 7s player pool, that player was either sent home with work-ons or asked to stay on. Northeast Academy graduate Sarah Buonopane is one success story and has remained on the West Coast, earning her first 7s caps this past season. Chadwick praised Buonopane’s success, and the coach explained that once a player’s been picked up, their time in the academy ranks is over.

“Sarah Buonopane has done an amazing job of being a college player and playing in Boston, going through the Northeast system for three years, and then going through [to the national team],” Chadwick said. “She had the opportunity to play with us in Vegas, but then we had to drop someone from the Northeast [Academy team]. So in Chula Vista [for NDA 7s], we wanted to play against her – she played for CCIG – because we want to develop players and push them through, rather than come back down. We’ve done our job as an organization so we don’t want her to come back down.”

Chadwick indicated however that those academy spots in Chula Vista aren’t guaranteed, but if it’s revived, there are a couple of players he’s ready to recommend.

“That’s a conversation we’ll have to have with Emilie when the new [USA 7s] contracts come out because we’d love to get a few of them out there,” Chadwick said of sponsored slots. “Shamira [Robles] is killing it right now. And Kristi Kirshe from Boston is someone who needs to be on the radar now. She’s 23-24. Dee Nash and Paige [Stathopoulus] were friends with her in Boston and got her to come out. She’s a soccer player. Everyone got on the phone to me straightaway: You’ve got to get her.”

Kirshe made waves during the 15s season, scoring an impressive amount of tries from wing, and made her Northeast Academy debut at the NDA 7s. She was named to the Dream Team.

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