Community Olympic Development Program Update
North American Invitational 7s Tournament Report
Earlier this year Play Rugby USA, in partnership with the Northeast Academy, proudly announced our selection by the United States Olympic Committee as the nation’s 16th Community Olympic Development Program (CODP), the first in the country for rugby.
Formally launched in January 2016, the CODP combines resources from Play Rugby USA – an established grassroots rugby development program – and the Northeast Academy – a USA Rugby approved elite development program – to formalize and consolidate a pathway for talented young players to USA Rugby national teams.
The CODP largely focuses on a High Performance Program for High School aged boys and girls. Typically the Play Rugby USA NY Academy competes at a local level in the tri-state area and over the past few years have consistently been among the top teams, for both Boys’ and Girls’.
The creation of the CODP Teams creates an opportunity for a selection of the highest performing players in the area, including from the Play Rugby USA Academy, to compete at a higher level and better prepare them for elite competition at the national and international level. The CODP teams meet monthly throughout the year for training, and sessions increase in frequency in the lead up to elite Rugby Sevens tournaments with the goal to compete in four elite competitions annually.
The CODP Squads were formed through a process which combined invitations to individual players who were observed by coaches throughout the Empire GU 7s series and recommendations by coaches. Approximately 60 players have been invited to this elite program, and the majority have attended training sessions.
The Boys CODP side competed in the Saratoga 7s tournament in July to get an opportunity to gel as a team and identify “work ons” for the weeks ahead. It was a positive experience, with the boys securing comfortable wins in each match, scoring 237 points in 5 games and only conceding 17. The trip was successful not only with positive performance outcomes, but it gave the boys a chance to play together and establish a team culture to build on moving forward.
Training sessions were scheduled from 5 weeks in advance to the 1st assembly. There was also the empire GU 7s series that the players would take part in so coaches could observe the talent in competition with each other.
As this was the CODPs 1st assembly there were no expectations and the focus was just on having PRIDE in Performance. PRIDE is an acronym for performance standards and how to meet them.
The 5 sessions took place on a Monday evening so not to interfere with players missing their club practice. The 5 sessions broke down like this:
P.R.I.D.E in Performance
- Performance Standards / Targets
– Open Play
– Contact area
– Set piece
- Attacking Philosophy
– Broken down in to 3 different systems when we don’t have the ball
- Defensive Philosophy
– Broken down in to 4 different systems when we don’t have the ball
Practice 1 – Ball skill execution / decision making under pressure.
Practice 2 – Contact Area / Breakdown expectations
Practice 3 – Defensive Systems & Set Piece
Practice 4 – Defensive Systems & Run out Vs Northeast Academy
Practice 5 – Attacking Systems.
In-between this the Boys CODP side that was selected travelled up to Saratoga between sessions 3 & 4 to gel as a team and work on what they have practiced so far.
This was a great trip with the boys winning comfortably. Scoring 237 points in 5 games and only conceding 17. However the purpose of this trip was not to come out as winners but it was a nice bonus, the purpose was to get the boys to play and understand the systems they had.
Behind the scenes: The first CODP Assembly
Our CODP Manager shares a detailed account of the Boys’ and Girls’ debut at the North American Invitational 7s Tournament, July 28-30th.
The North American Invitational 7s tournament invited teams from all over North America including Canada. Teams included UpRight Rugby Rouges, Atlantis, Atuvus, ERIA Utah Lions to name a few regular opponents.
The team met at 5am in Newark Airport on Thursday morning to catch a 7am flight to Salt Lake City. The plan for Thursday was to arrive in SLC and relax and catch up on sleep from the early start and then to have lunch before doing some team activities and having fun with the group before. A big lightning storm on the Monday before meant we had to cancel a practice. So the girl’s coaches decided they wanted to do a training session before lunch and also later in the day.
The girls went to practice and the boys rested. The two squads then assembled together and had lunch before we headed outside and the coaches ran about a session consisting of fun games and team building activities.
The teams then went to check in providing IDs and proof of age to the tournament directors & organisers before coming back to the hotel for a mental skills session lead by Rys & Mark.
Players were then able to have free time before they had to meet again for an evening meal where they were presented their official CODP jerseys before heading to bed.
6 am wake up for breakfast before arriving at the tournament facilities for 8am. Allowing players time to get used to the environment and given enough time to collect their thoughts allow for taping and strapping before games began.
Friday Girls updates.
Vs Rhino Academy Girls Elite W 19-12
As expected, it was a nervous start for the first ever CODP match, but one of our most experienced players, Tammy Cowan calmed all down by touching down the first ever try after several patient distributions by #4 Kelsey Joyce. Hard nosed defense by all lead to a loose ball for Megan Bird to scoop up near midway to trot in the second try of the half, which was converted by Allie Mennella. The second half yielded a final try by Susan Adegoke, and Menella converted this as well. The girl of the match was Kelsey Joyce whose clam patient ball distribution all match long gave the CODP the go forward in space that produced the results.
Vs Atuvus Selects W 19-5
All expected this to be a tougher match than the previous Rhino Academy win, but the nerves were once again calmed by Kelsey Joyce’s patient ball distribution into space. Megan Bird took one into space and fended off several tacklers to touch down the first score, converted by Mennella. The second half saw the excellent Play rugby pairing of Susan Adegoke and Malery Billingy work with each other to produce a try apiece. One was converted by Mennella for the win. However, the Girls of the match was clearly captain Mia Lancellotti, who had many hard nosed runs and positive tackles to keep all on the front foot.
Vs Upright Rugby Rouges L22-7
Simply put, several of the girls ‘bonked’ in this match, and there was a clear lack of energy to see them through. Susan Adegoke, through sheer individual effort, scored the lone try of the match, and Mennella converted. That individual effort gave Adegoke the girl of the match honors. The Canadian girls were very well coached and took advantage of the lack of CODP energy to bring them an easy victory.
Friday Boys Updates
Vs Herriman Rugby W 36 – 12
Started very slowly and conceded a try very early on due to lack of communication in defence with was a by-
product of the nerves on the big occasion. After the 2nd half the team found their feet and performance very well to bounce back an end up winning without problems. Stand out performance the team was shown by Noah’s 70 meter try on the right wing.
Vs Atuvus Selects W 20 -17
This was a game of attrition. The boys when behind again quickly this time due to one on one missed tackles trying to tackle to high. They players bounced back and scored a couple try going in to the half behind. Nate came on in the 2nd half and changed the game. His intensity in defence was the difference between the two sides and and managed to put Ryan (C) in for a try for the last play of the game meaning the CODP side clinched the win.
Vs Atlantis II L 33-7
A Bad day in the office. 7’s is very tough to keep mental focus and discipline all day. The last day of the game and the altitude and 100 degrees heat played a big part in the performance here. The players were drawn in to playing their own game rather than sticking to the system with meant that there was error after error which Atlantis took advantage on. When the boys stuck the systems they scored a great team try from their 22meter line, by winning a scrum, Eion giving a great left handed 20 yard pass to Damon, who’s quick feet and awareness created a 2v1 providing Kamrai space to finish a 80 meter try under the posts.
Boys finished day 1 ranked 3rd.
Girls Saturday Updates
Vs Atlantis W 7-5
All expected this to be a close match, and it couldn’t have any closer. Many players on each squad had familiarity with each other, and wanted to prove themselves on the pitch, so the effort and energy on both sides as terrific. In the end, it was Malery Billingy who broke through the center with a slick sidestep and touch down the only try for CODP. It was Mennella’s sure foot on the conversion that gave CODP their third win of the weekend. All defended well, but it was Billingy who broke the stalemate and earned girl of the match honors.
Vs Rocky Mountain Rebels W 12-7
The CODP were trailing 7-0 in this match when a Allie Mennella finally took things into her own hands and, recognizing the tribe was without a sweeper, chipped the ball over the top and was able to charge downfield and re-gather the ball and take it in for the try, which she converted to tie the match. The rest of the team was lifted after that and worked the ball through several hands to provide Kelsey Joyce with the game winning try in the corner. Girl of the match goes to Mennella for her heads up play to turn the match.
Vs Utah Lions Elite L 12-7
This last match was the best played of the weekend for the CODP girls. Utah was undefeated and the had something to prove. After yielding a try, Adegoke worked the sideline to tie it up after a Mennella conversion. The rest of the match was all defense on both sides, until an unfortunate penalty yielded the game winning try for Utah. Time expired before the CODP had the chance to tie or go ahead. This match was a true team effort, but girl of the match honors goes to Tammy Cowan for her constant calming and sure defense.
Saturday Boys Updates
Vs EIRA L 24-17 Overtime
1/4 finals. A Game for the forwards. Stand out performances from Jack, Jovante and Rory Who got better and better as the games went by. This game started VERY well with Rory scoring within 7 seconds from the kick off. ERIA were a very physical side and with a few unfortunate refereeing calls that didn’t go our way the game finished 17-17 at full time. In over time it was sudden death. 1st team to score. A coaching decision from Rys asked Ryan the captain to receive the ball as all the kicks off that game we have recovered easily. ERIA Kicked off and with a bounce of a ball EIRA collected the ball and executed two 2v1s scoring the sudden death try.
Vs Herriman Rugby L 22 – 12
Plate Semi Final. Seamus Kelly the boys assistant coach asked the asked the boys at the start of the day if they were a 2nd day player. What this means is that it’s easy to be 1st day player in 7s. The best 7s players carry over the same intensity and commitment in to the 2nd day. This is the 1st time that any of the boys had compete in a two day tournament apart from Noah, who has played in the LVI tournament for the last two years for Atlantis. Due to this fact the fitness really played a toll on the boys and they looked very fatigued ended up not being able to compete with the physicality of Herriman even though they dominate them in the opening game of day 1. Stand out performance from Gabe with several great attacking runs over 50 meters.
Vs Utah Lions Elite L 36-12
Storm Delays. There was a 2 hour wait for the boy’s last game and then there was a storm which pushed the game back a further hour. The fitness levels plus the delay the boys found it difficult for the boys to regain the intensity they had shown earlier in the day and were outplayed by a very good Utah side. However after a very aggressive team talk, the boys found their PRIDE and came out fighting, scoring two tries and dominating the most of the 2nd half. It was a great half to finish the tournament on as it showed the coaches and the players that if they wanted they still had fight inside of them, even when they were exhausted , beat up, and playing for 7th place. Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way. Stand out performance from Connor & Damon whos fight and grit who never gabe up and were on the front foot the whole time they played.
Thoughts from the coaching Staff.
From Ryszard Chadwick – Boys Coach:
For our 1st Assembly I was very impressed with the boy’s ability to connect so well with each other. Boys from all over the Tri Sate area coming together and mixing so well. At times there was so moment of genius and beautiful rugby being played. There were definite lessons learned, from all involved and many positives talk out of the weekend. Even though there was a 2 wins and 4 losses the trip was still a massive success. Losing the ¼ final to ERIA in overtime who eventually lost the final to upright Rugby Rouges 26-19 was the turning point of the trip and the experience will allow the boys to come back for the next assembly with hunger and desire to work better, harder longer and smarter.
From Tom Fuery – Girls Coach:
The coaching Staff all agreed that our outcomes for this first ever CODP event was to emphasize the D in the acronym, development, since we had a number of young and new players. Not focusing on the wins, but the connectivity of the group, provided us with pleasing results in five of the six matches and the wins naturally followed. We attribute the relative success to the desire within the group, along with leadership provided by the captain Mia Lancellotti. Mia played almost every minute of each match and always seemed to lift both herself and the team higher with a big hit or strong run just at the right moment. She was the spark that ignited all.
Mark Griffin – CEO & Founder of PRUSA
The CODP Teams performed incredibly well for their first tour. Competing in 100+ degree heat and at altitude, tested the players fitness and character. 50% of the girls had competed at this level before with Atlantis, with an additional 5 girls unavailable due to All American selections. All members of the girls squad stepped up to the task and surprised many finishing 4 – 2 and third overall. The boys with only 1 player who had competed at this level of Sevens ended up an incredible 3rd (of 12) on day one but after suffering a defeat in a highly competitive game against EIRA in overtime the second day, lost some steam finishing 2 – 4 and 8th overall. What is really promising and exciting is the future potential for both squads. By focusing on fitness and nutrition and improving basic skills under pressure and fatigue, such as accurate passing and tackling; we are extremely excited about how the squads will perform in the New York Sevens and beyond throughout 2017.
Summary from Ryszard Chadwick – CODP Manager.
Overall a very positive 1st Assembly. I will be reflecting now for the next few weeks on how I can improve the program and doing more research in to how we can provide the best opportunity for these talented young people. I will be reaching out to a number of other coaches and look to recruit other members of staff to help build and develop the program. To give players all the tools necessary to raise their game and have P.R.I.D.E in their Performance.
Also Congratulations to Malery who made it on the All Star 7s Team from the tournament.
Another congratulations to Ryan Hercules the boys captain who made it on the Honorable Mentions list.
A special mention to Mia (left of photo) the Girls Captain who was the only player from her club to even try out for the CODP. She has been working hard all year and raised her game to the next level out in Utah. Her natural ability to lead her teammates was impressive on and off the field. She lead from the front in her ball carrying and was solid in defence. She also was a great advocate for her teammates challenging coaches on selections which for me is the sign of a great leader. She has very bright year ahead.
A special mention to Nate who is only 15 years old and began his playing career with Play Rugby program as a
youngster and is also now part of the Play Rugby USA Academy and Xavier HS. He was the tournament stand out player voted by his teammates & coaches. For a player so young his composure with the ball in attack and ability to find holes in the defence and to put people through them is impressive. His defence is a different level, with no fear and superb technique. He has a bright future with the CODP and his Rugby career with Xavier.
A big thank you to KJ, our trainer and volunteer photographer, who kept all of our players safe and healthy all weekend. We’re thrilled to have managed to leave Utah with no injuries! KJs commitment to the players is admirable and he is someone who is irreplaceable.
Another thank you to James English and Seamus Kelly for coming on board to help with the coaching. It’s very beneficial having such rugby knowledge on hand for the players to tap into.
Click here to watch the games that were live streamed.
DAY 1 & 2 – http://livestream.com/prodigy/events/5994758
– CODP manager – Ryszard Chadwick
– Tour Manager – Mark Griffin
– Head Girls Coach – Tom Fuery
– Assistant Girls Coach – James English
– Head Boys Coach – Ryszard Chadwick
– Assistant Bosy Coach – Seamus Kelly
– Medical Trainer & Photographer – KJ Fuery
– Boys Captain – Ryan Hercules
– Girls Captain – Mia Lanccellotti
Play Rugby USA U18 Elite Girls
Susan Adegoke (PRUSA) – Julianna Aliprandi (Morris) – Malery Billingy (PRUSA) – Megan Bird (Wisconsin) – Calaysha Byrd (PRUSA) – Tamlyn Cowen (Morris) – Kye Harris (PRUSA) – Kelsey Joyce (Morris) – Mia Lancellotti (Union) – Emily McHugh (Morris) – Allie Mennella (Morris) – Mahdia Parker (NYRC)
Play Rugby USA U18 Elite Boys
Damon Anderson (Xavier / City Athlete) – Connor Buckley (Xavier/ City Athlete) – Gabe Castro (PRUSA) – Kamari Charles (PRUSA) – Jack dePoortere (Ridge) – Ben Ehlers (Fairfield) – Noah Geltman (PRUSA) – Ryan Hercules (PRUSA) – Rory Kinsella (Xavier / City Athlete ) – Nathan Salter (Xavier / PRUSA) – Eion Sanservo (Xavier / City Athlete) – Jovante Spence (PRUSA)