What did I do my Memorial Day weekend—drink beer and grill? Well, yeah. But not until after a two-day Atavus USA Rugby Academy Training Camp in Gaithersburg, Md. Why? Do I think I'll be selected the U.S. National team? Not really. But if that happens that would be pretty sweet; Over the years I felt like I more than held my own when I've lined up against a John Quill or an Al McFarland, U.S. National players in my position group (loose forward). And the Atavus Camp does offer an avenue that could make U.S. National selection a possibility, as explained by the leader of the camp and Yale University's Director of Rugby Greg McWilliams.
“We tag players, players that we feel have the ability to possibly play at another level,” explained McWilliams. “We might have somebody who really shines and being an elite environment might suit that player. They can either trial at the Olympic Training Center, or they might go to an Atavus select side. And we can monitor that player, and test that player at an elite environment to see how they cope with things like time keeping, and how they are around the rest of the team. Because at the end of the day talent is one thing. But talent with the right attitude is the player that we really want to progress forward.”
But mostly I was just curious as to the event. I was invited to it, but as I went to the registration page, I saw it was offered to players 14 and up. So was this like the basketball camps my mom signed me up for when I was in middle school? Or a true venue to identify talent? The answer was a little bit of both. And boy did I shine in some of those contact drills. Take a look yourself:
Just kidding. Obviously any drills with even the slightest bit of contact were split up by age. And the boys and girls/men and women trained separately throughout the entirety of the camp. So as many as four different groups would be doing working on different drills and skills with one of the handful of coaches that were on hand.
Day one was spent mostly on the drills. Day two had more skill work, but also got some athletic measurements. All players were timed on their 10M, 40M, and vertical jump.
So one may ask what a 29-year old, 11-year rugby vet could possibly take away from a camp that also included 14-year-olds and very basic drills. Well, lots actually. I've had that natural curiosity about National selection and development processes answered. I picked up a new lineout/maul technique that I'd like to bring back to my club. And I got lots of tips and found some new drills that will hone in my passing. Which can always use work. Just ask my teammates.
For more Tales from the Rugging Reporter follow Alexander on Twitter @alexanderdiegel.