The Runner Sports

USA Rugby Sevens Host High Performance Camp

It is in preparation for the pitch and not the beach that the Men’s Eagles 7s team hits the free weights today with the start of a high intensity, high-performance training camp in Chula Vista, California. The camp, which runs until Monday, will feature an augmented American squad and provide the much-needed opportunity for the newer additions to gain valuable experience running with the veterans.

With the Hong Kong Sevens tournament looming on the horizon, head coach Mike Friday is looking to inject some new talent into the team. Cal standout Alec Gletzer will be joined the training camp today and has already earned two caps with the USA Rugby 15s side. As an opponent of mine during my college playing years, I can confirm that the rumors are true and he is remarkably difficult to bring down in open play and with a little polishing and fitness, will prove a valuable asset in Hong Kong.

Fresh off a victorious performance in the Americas Rugby Championship competition, Ryan Matyas will also be joining the camp along with fellow capped Eagle Mike Te’o. Despite massively different hairstyles, both athletes have shown some serious wheels in open space and Friday can rest easy knowing they have definitely proven themselves in their recent rugby encounters.

To round out the squad is natural athlete Psalm Wooching of college football fame. Wooching was a standout at the University of Washington where he captained his Pac-12 team, and is eager to return to a sport he likens to, “that little brother nagging on me, saying hey come back…” And like an immense lost sheep returning to the fold, Wooching’s physical play and raw athletic ability will transfer over well to the rugby sevens game.

A major priority of Friday and his men will be not only to fine tune the athletic prowess of his players, but also to improve their familiarity operating with each other. This is what separates a 5th place team from a 1st place team. As they continue an upward trend in the international standings, there will no longer be any freebies like what they saw against Japan in Vancouver. Like being promoted from the kids table to that of the adults at a holiday gathering, you must earn your spot. Gone are the days when a few key tries from Perry Baker ensures victory. Instead, these new additions must identify their role in the squad, learn from the veterans, and master the elusive quality of being able to anticipate their teammates if they are ever to truly compete with the likes of New Zealand and South Africa.

Eric Sweigert

Eric Sweigert

Currently a teacher-athlete up in Northern California, I was first introduced to rugby in college (go Aggies) and haven't looked back. Nowadays you can find me teaching American History and writing about a sport that provided many good memories and more than enough stitches.
Eric Sweigert