Skill Rugby Well Represented at Las Vegas Invitational
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series resumes this weekend with the USA Sevens Rugby tournament in Las Vegas. Alongside the Series event there is the Las Vegas Invitational which is believed to be the largest rugby tournament in North America with 15 divisions and 200 teams. Schuylkill River will have 9 players participating in select sides at this tournament in addition to several players participating with their college sides.
Seven of our U-23 players will be with the Rogue Samurai and two of our Premier side players will be with Atlantis. The Rogue Samurai describe themselves as a group dedicated to the Veteran community by integrating both civilians and veterans on one team to compete at various tournaments throughout the US while Atlantis is an invitational 7s rugby side whose mission is to encourage and develop American rugby by playing in domestic and international tournaments.
In order to provide some info on the guys traveling to Vegas we reached out to them with the following questions and made the profiles that appear below. 1. What college program did/do you play for? 2. How many seasons have you played 7s for Schuylkill? 3. How has playing for Schuylkill helped you develop as a 7s player? 4. What are your hopes for this tournament and what are you most looking forward to about Vegas overall? 5. What are your goals for the upcoming 7s season?
John McCurdy played for Malvern Prep and then attended the University of Delaware. This is his 4th season with Skill Rugby and he says that the culture is top notch, no one shows up to practice to go through the motions, and everyone wants to get better. Atlantis is sending a very competitive side to Vegas and John is looking forward to an opportunity to make a run for the cup and play against teams we don’t get to see at Schuylkill, including several international teams. This upcoming summer is going to a long season and John’s priority is to help the squad play consistent team defense. Everything else will come from that.
Brian Keown played for St. Joe’s Prep and then attended the University of South Carolina and is also in his 4th season with Skill Rugby. Since joining Schuylkill Brian says that he has learned a lot about the simplicity of 7s. We work to perfect the basics with a simple system that has been very successful. We also recognize each other’s individual skills and encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to make a special play. Brian credits this freedom and support with helping everyone take their game to the next level. Brian is looking forward to the high level of competition in Vegas and says that Atlantis always expects to win. Coach Mirro led them to the semi-finals last year and has put together another great group of players this year. The guys are ready to use their individual assets to come together and take it a step further this year. Brian is also really excited for this upcoming 7s season. Many of the Premier side guys have been together for the last four years which has given them great chemistry and understanding which should take us far.
Kyle Kent currently attends Drexel University and is entering his 3rd season with Skill rugby. Kyle says that playing with Schuylkill has introduced him to high competition at training and challenged him to get better in order to compete with the other players in the Club. In Vegas he is looking forward to the opportunity to play the game on a bigger stage and compete against some of the best competition in the country. This summer Kyle intends to take the next step in his development and play under control with a better understanding for the situational flow of the game.
Jabari Johnson played collegiately for Bloomsburg University and is entering his second 7s season with Skill Rugby. Playing with Schuylkill has allowed Jabari to critique his own game, recognize his weaknesses, and work to improve on becoming a better overall rugby player. In Vegas Jabari’s goal is to win and he is confident that the Rogue Samurai squad has the ability to win it all. Off the field, Jabari is excited to watch the international 7s matches taking place in Las Vegas as this will be his first opportunity to watch that level of play. Over the summer Jabari plans to improve his game and earn some quality Premier side minutes.
John Hines [editor’s note: My Grandson!] played briefly for St. Bonaventure before joining Skill Rugby in 2014. Schuylkill is the only 7s team that John has played for and he has been able to improve his game rapidly thanks to the coaching, film study, and training alongside more experienced players. In Vegas John wants to win the Cup and isn’t shy about stating that he wants to win the MVP award [editor’s note: Go get ‘em Grandson!]. He is also looking forward to playing with, and against, high level players, watching even higher level players on the international stage, and improving his game. Lastly, John is also looking forward to the after-parties and clubbing once the tournament is over. John’s goal for 7s season is to play at a Premier level and hopefully make Nationals.
Xavier Steward currently plays for the St. Joe’s Hawks and has played 4 seasons of 7s with Skill Rugby. The biggest benefit to playing for Schuylkill for Xavier has been working with more experienced players to keep up his competitive edge. His hopes for Vegas are to win the tournament and gain connections in the rugby community and over the summer he wants to earn a place on Schuylkill’s Premier side and an opportunity to play in Colorado.
Louis Baeza currently plays for Drexel University and this will be his second season with Skill Rugby. Playing for Schuylkill has helped him understand the game better and learn to play at a different tempo which has helped him improve his skills across the board. His goal in Vegas is to play the best he can for the team and help win the tournament and his goal for the upcoming summer is to become a better overall player and compete to win at every tournament.
Joe Broderick plays for Wheeling Jesuit University and is entering his second season with Skill rugby. He has also been part of Rogue Samurai for 3 years now. Schuylkill has helped Joe get better by giving him the chance to play at the next level of club 7s against D1 competition. Joe has grown his skills and learned different attacking strategies specific to 7s. In Vegas Joe is hoping to go out have some fun, score some tries, hit some rucks, and ultimately win the cup. For this upcoming 7s season Joe is hoping to build on last year’s success with the boys and increase our level of play and win more tournaments.
Dante Jacquet is also participating in the Las Vegas Invitational for the Rogue Samurai. We weren’t able get a bio from him before writing this article but Dante is a tremendous athlete who came to us from Delmarva. He is fully competent as a first receiver but really shines when he is given the opportunity to carry the ball in space and use his change of direction ability. We know that Dante has a great future in this sport and look forward to watching his continued development!