Junior Rugby All-Americans Set For Showdown

ROUND ROCK, Texas – Hanco Germishuys will captain JD Stephenson’s AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Saturday in their World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier against Canada at Dell Diamond.

Germishuys is one of four MJAAs to have missed out on last year’s international competition due to an aggregate defeat to Canada north of the border. Saturday’s match will kick off after the Men’s Eagles’ Americas Rugby Championship clash with Canada’s senior side, and will be streamed live on USA Rugby TV.

Stephenson, the interim head coach for the MJAAs, made his 23-man team selections following an intense week of training in Austin, where the squad utilized the facilities of local Austin Blacks Rugby and even scrimmaged the Red River Division I side. The assembly follows the Winter Camp, attended by 52 players over the New Year holiday, and last month’s Filter Camp, which gave the coaching staff time to work with athletes spread across the country.

“It’s been a very physically- and mentally-tough week on the players,” Stephenson said. “The combination of two sessions, film, and daily one-on-ones can be taxing for the players. Our recovery protocol has been imperative to ensure that players are rested and that injuries are managed.”

Ben Cima and Louis Mulholland were part of the Eagles’ Rugby World Cup 2015 Training Squad leading up to the eighth quadrennial, and retain the fly half and scrum half shirts, respectively, they wore in the two-match Trophy qualifier last March. Along with Germishuys, who will join the senior side when it travels to South America at the end of the month, and Nick Kwasniewski, the half-back pairing will serve as veterans on the team.

As well as working with the local community during the build-up week, preparing for the one-off match with a trip to Zimbabwe on the line, the MJAAs will receive a pep talk from Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell at Friday’s jersey ceremony.

“It’s a great vibe to be on the same pitch as the senior side, playing in a great venue, and it has rubbed off on the playing group,” Stephenson said.

Ten young athletes in the starting XV have progressed through the age-grade ranks from Salty Thompson’s Boys High School All-Americans, connecting the pathway from the under-18 level to the senior level. Additionally, nine starters are members of D1A Rugby collegiate teams.

The MJAAs have only defeated Canada twice since the spring of 2012, but, discounting the winless U20 Championship campaign in 2013, hold an overall record of 9-5 in that time span.

“The starting XV is the best reflection of how the Men’s Junior All-Americans want to play rugby on Saturday evening,” Stephenson said. “All 26 players in our greater squad play a vital role of getting the best out of each other, and this should be reflected in the starting XV.”

Kickoff from Dell Diamond is tentatively scheduled for 8:45 p.m. CT Saturday, Feb. 13, with the live stream broadcast on USA Rugby TV. Match updates will also be provided on Twitter (@aarugby).

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | v. Canada
1. Connor Cudeback
2. Steven Branham
3. Nick Kwasniewski
4. Sean Coleman
5. Malon Al-Jiboori
6. Uki Taumoefolau
7. Brennan Falcon
8. Hanco Germishuys (C)
9. Louis Mulholland
10. Ben Cima
11. Deion Mikesell
12. Brian Hannon
13. Lorenzo Thomas
14. Tyler Sousley
15. Mitchell Wilson

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | Reserves
16. Zachary Haley
17. Chance Wenglewski
18. Mason Pedersen
19. Joshua Warnock
20. George Fotu
21. Ruben de Haas
22. Rodney Giles
23. Devin Lim

Canada | v. USA
1. Cali Martinez
2. Andrew Quattrin
3. Matt Tierney
4. Reegan O’Gorman
5. Conor Keys
6. Adrian Wadden
7. Nakai Penny
8. Luke Bradley
9. Cole Keffer
10. Robbie Povey
11. Theo Sauder
12. George Barton
13. Phil Berna
14. Trenton Cooper
15. Andrew Coe (C)

Canada | Reserves
16. Conor Sampson
17. Brendan Blaikie
18. Curtis Delmonico
19. Matt Beukeboom
20. Peter Milazzo
21. Keaton Porter
22. Mitch Richardson
23. Aaron Evison

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | Coaching Staff
JD Stephenson – Interim Head Coach
Justin Goonan – Strength and Conditioning & Skills Coach
Pete Borlase – Forwards Coach
James Walton – Video Analyst
Michael Engelbrecht – Backs Coach & Manager
David Fee – Skills Coach
Scott Lawrence – Technical Advisor
Kevin Battle – Skills Coach & Academy Manager

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