World Rugby has announced the expansion of the World Rugby Combine project into the Americas with the strategic aim of accelerating the development of North and South America’s brightest emerging test rugby talent.
Following the success of the 2018 Pacific Combine, which featured 30 players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the ‘Americas Combine’ will take place from 21-28 October in Glendale, Colorado, USA (the home of the Major League Rugby franchise, the Glendale Raptors) and will feature 25 players from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Uruguay and USA, some of whom were competing for their national A teams in the recent World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The week-long programme is a dedicated education, testing and assessment camp, aimed at preparing the next generation of test stars for professional rugby opportunities. Underscoring the project, the top performers will be prioritised for placement with pre-selected clubs, supported by an ongoing mentoring programme, delivered by the participating parties. Placement opportunities will primarily be arranged with Major League Rugby franchises, many of whom will be in attendance.
With player welfare and personal development as the central considerations, the initiative run in partnership with Rugby Americas, Pacific Rugby Players (PRP) and the five participating unions, reflects World Rugby’s ongoing commitment to developing sustainable high-performance pathways for emerging unions. The identification, development and assisting of the placement of talent across the globe, along with supporting that talent in their ambitions to play international rugby, will ultimately benefit Rugby World Cup preparation for unions.
During the camp, players will undergo intensive testing and assessment of their rugby and athletic ability, character, effort and ability to learn and develop as a rugby player, while tactical workshops will challenge players’ understanding of different aspects of the game. The players will also receive tutelage on professional contracting, social media, time management, mental skills, the life of professional athletes, and match officiating in elite competitions. The week will culminate in a match at 19:00 on Saturday 27 October between the ‘Americas Combine Selects’ and the Glendale Raptors at Glendale’s rugby specific Infinity Park.
The camp follows the inaugural Pacific Combine in Suva, Fiji, in March, in which six of the 30 Fijian, Samoa and Tongan players participating in that camp were placed into professional opportunities with pre-selected clubs in Super Rugby, Australia’s National Rugby Championship and New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup.
World Rugby Vice Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustin Pichot said: “We are excited to expand our new player pathway project into the Americas, to accelerate the development of rugby in the region through its high-performance unions. There is a significant amount of young playing talent in the Americas to be nurtured and safeguarded. By providing the players with opportunities to enhance their performance and that of their national team, the sport can reap the benefits at Rugby World Cup 2019 and beyond.”
Rugby Americas CEO Dan Payne added: “At the end of the week, we expect to have a strong grasp of what each individual could bring to a professional environment on and off the field. Every interaction from the time the players arrive to the time they depart, will gather data toward their overall evaluation. Most importantly, the data will generate the feedback required for the continued growth of each individual as a player and a person.”
World Rugby TV will be following the group of players on their journey within a dedicated documentary to be aired later this year. World Rugby would like to extend special thanks to the many parties supporting this project including: The City of Glendale (www.glendale.co.us), O’Brien Rugby (www.obrienrugbyshop.com), Glendale Raptors (www.glendaleraptors.com), Major League Rugby (www.usmlr.com) and Pacific Rugby Players (www.pacificrugbyplayers.com).
The filming forms part of World Rugby’s expanding commitment to creating documentaries under the World Rugby Films banner. The documentary following the Pacific Combine can be viewed here.