slide 1

NOTE: Only paying subscribers have access to locked content. LEARN MORE.

U23 All-Stars Shine Bright in Quincy

  • 01 Jul 2024
New England U23 rugby

Last Friday-Sunday, the USA Rugby U23 All-Star 15s Championship took place at the New England Free Jacks stadium in Quincy, Mass. It was an opportunity for the USA Rugby staff to gauge the rising talent in this important age grade, and the tournament also provided valuable exposure — for players, coaches and admin — to the next level of competition. [lead photo: Richard Jordan @richard.c.jordan.iii]


The teams were divided into two brackets based on last year’s performances. The tournament started with Tier 2 semifinals on Friday, and the Pacific South — which includes players from the SoCal and Southwest areas — beat Central South 67-7. Captain Natalie Figueroa, a San Diego State product who now plays with the Empire Monarchs, led all point scorers with 18 on two tries and four conversions. Max Dalton (UCLA) led on tries scored (3), while Laila Hannum (Claremont), Angelique Schrock (Grand Canyon), Caroline Bullock (Claremont), Michelle Avina (SD Surfers) and Carissa Ng (UCSB) also dotted down. Hannum added a conversion and there was also a penalty try. Arkansas’ Ashton Dillard (try) and San Antonio Riveters’ Angelica Joseph (conversion) accounted for the Mustangs’ seven points. Watch the replay.


Pacific South U23s

Pacific South U23s / Photo: Richard Jordan @richard.c.jordan.iii

On the other side of the bracket, New England and Mid-Atlantic exchanged quick tries to kick off their Tier 2 semifinal, and then the Free Jacks Academy pulled away for a 60-14 win. Brown’s Nikki Lynch (3), Dartmouth’s Sia Meni (2) and Beantown’s Emily Antonik (2) scored multiple tries, while Shayla Barker (UCONN), Shannon Hobbs (Norwich), Hannah Wilker (Northeastern) also dotted down. Harvard’s Skylar Jordan slotted five conversions. Penn State’s Merrin McSorley scored both of the Sharks’ tries, and Jaida Rudkin (Penn State) and Emma Davies (West Chester) hit the extras. Watch the replay.

The field enjoyed a rest day on Saturday, and then reassembled Sunday for final place. The day started with the Tier 2 consolation match, and the Mid-Atlantic stretched its legs in a 55-0 win against Central South. McSorley scored another two tries to lead the Sharks with four on the weekend, Taylor McLean (Severn River), Verita Bordoh-Ansah (Virginia), Jen Holland (North Bay), Tyson-Lochlan Hickey (West Chester), Hope Palmer (James River) and Rudkin all dotted down. Rudkin and Davies kicked three conversions apiece, and the latter also added a conversion. Watch the replay.


New England U23 rugby

Photo: Richard Jordan @richard.c.jordan.iii

The Tier 2 championship followed and the stakes included a spot in Tier 1 in 2025. New England scored 35-straight points in 35 minutes against the Pacific South. Barker, Lynch, Wilker, Lauren Ferridge (Beantown) and Annika Chiang-Boeckmann (Colby) scored the tries, and Jordan converted all of them. Before the break, Jayna Schalesky (UCSB) snapped the shutout with a try, and the Free Jacks took a 35-5 lead into halftime. The second half was much more even, and the scoreboard remained unmoved until minute 70, when Jordan added a penalty: 38-5 to the hosts. Watch the replay


The scorelines were much closer in Tier 1, but the competition was robbed a championship match. The weather intervened Sunday afternoon, and only 15 minutes elapsed before the game was called. Thus, the first place trophy is being shared between two teams in 2024. Both teams will stay in Tier 1 for 2025.

Semifinal Friday saw Rocky Mountain and 2023 champion Pacific Coast on the pitch first. The Peaks and Grizzlies were tied 7-7 as halftime neared, as Mona Tupou (Life West) and Lauren Campbell (Grand Canyon) scored for their respective sides, and Kai Brandt-Templeton (Central Washington) and Makayla Komer (Rocky Mountain Peaks) added conversions. As the first half trickled into referee time, Sayler Russell (Long Island) took an excellent line off the ruck for the pop and try, 12-7 into the break.

Rocky Mountain added second-half scores from Lua Stowers (Peaks) and Kami Hartrick (BYU), while Winnie Namosimalua (Central Washington) accounted for the Pacific Coast’s try. Komer and Brandt-Templeton added a conversion apiece in the 24-12 decision to Rocky Mountain. Watch the replay.


USA South rugby

South U23 Reapers

The closest game of the day occurred between the South and Midwest. It was a back-and-forth, lead-changing game that had the stands abuzz. “We put on a show,” said South U23 head coach Lisa Jackson said of the 29-26 win. Read more for game details, and watch the replay.

South 29
Tries: Maddie Hughes 2, Lo Anderson, Mikaela Hall
Cons: Hughes 3
PKs: Hughes

Midwest 26
Tries: Aly Cunningham, Kalie Blaising, Aly Namosimalua, Shannon Wypij
Cons: Cunningham 3

Another heart-pumper occurred on Sunday, as the Midwest and Pacific Coast faced each other in the Tier 1 consolation match. Fresno State’s MacKinzie Forrester got the scoring going, and then the sides continued to exchange punches throughout the full 80. The  Thunderbirds were able to close the deficit in the third quarter, just in time for the try-trading to resume in the final 20.

The Midwest won 39-31 and saw Kalie Blaising (3), Aly Cunningham (2) and Aly Namosimalua notch tries. Cunningham added another seven points on two conversions and a penalty, while Hannah Roth kicked a conversion, too. The Pacific Coast got its 31 points through Forrester, East Palo Alto’s Tua Tanupo, MacKinzie Forrester, Portland’s Envee Sakhouen-Hem, Cal Poly SLO’s Linique Bouwer. Alexis Ingargiola (Cal Poly SLO) added two conversions, and there was also a penalty try. The Grizzlies will compete in Tier 2 in 2025, while New England bumps up to Tier 1. Watch the replay.

Rocky Mountain held a 7-0 lead (Erica Coulibaly try, Avery Morgan conversion) after 15 minutes of the Tier 1 championship, but then the game was called for weather, and both the Peaks and South were named champions. There was a flip of a coin to determine which team took home the larger trophy (Rocky Mountain), but both sides are sharing the title and will return to Tier 1 in 2025.

Article Categories:

All Comments

Leave a Reply