The Junior All-American just finished a successful summer by winning the Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) in Salt Lake. The win means that the team will play in the Junior World Championship next year in France against teams like New Zealand, England, Australia, and South Africa. It’s going to be a big step up for the team, and the man in charge of making sure that happens is head coach Scott Lawrence. He took the time to answer a few questions from This Is American Rugby about his plans for the upcoming year.
This Is American Rugby: Congratulations on winning the JWRT. What did it feel like to raise the trophy in front of a home crowd? How did the team benefit from having the tournament in the United States?
Scott Lawrence: Having the tournament at home was an advantage in this year's tournament. When it comes to executing a national team assembly its important the environment is worry free for players so that they can focus on rugby and recovery. Having easy access and knowledge of where to obtain assets quickly to establish the environment was vital. The second part was the opportunity for players to play in front of fans and family. This helps in overall camp morale.
TIAR: On the flight back from the JWRT in Georgia you reportedly made a list of things that would help the team prepare for this year. Did you make a similar list this year? If so, what are some things on the list?
SL: This year we're doing similar to last year which is conducting a review cycle with the coaching staff and players. That process has not yet completed but indeed there will be a list and it will cover all areas from identification, player development, environment, coach interaction, and lastly to how we plan, execute, and measure each area of a game.
TIAR: Next year you will face some very tough Tier I teams in the JWC. What are your plans to help the team prepare for a step up in competition (warm-up matches, more assemblies, etc.)
SL: Not yet determined. I have a plan to present to Nigel Melville that will require budgetary approval and for some players a life choice. In general the identification cycle will need to be pulled forward on the calendar to allow for more in the preparation phase in terms of international competition leading into the JWC.
TIAR: How do you go about scouting players?
SL: This is a combination of many sources. There is a group of players that were close but didn't make it last year combined with those identified by Salty Thompson and his team that make it into our pool, Second, we speak to a number of coaches from the top programs and have them nominate players from their current roster. Third, a group identified out of the Regional All-Star tournaments and in Hawaii. Lastly there are player recommended via coaches we have not contacted directly. Last year we looked at over 100 players and there are currently 140 on our list to be sifted through to start.
TIAR: If a player came to you and asked what he had to do to make the Junior All-Americans, what would you tell him?
SL: Send game film and conduct the athletic testing we asked him to do before hand. From there it could mean a combine invite if we like what we see or it may go no further.
TIAR: How important is it for your players to be playing regularly? What level should the players be playing at? Will that be a big factor in your final selections?
SL: Players learn through games and High Performers should aim to be stretched daily in terms of training and playing level. They should be playing and at the highest level they can achieve given their geographical, academic, and financial abilities. How a player performs next to his peers and in competition in camp is the criteria for selection. In many cases their week in and week out competition helps them better prepare for those camps but it is not a hard rule.
TIAR: Lastly, do you think the turmoil in college rugby will have an impact on the team or players on the team?
SL: Player availability has been in the past and will continue to be a risk that needs to be mitigated in planning to compete in the May/June timeframe with a group of domestic based players. I don't think it has become any more or less complicated based on the changing competition landscape.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.