Tomorrow, the USA Rugby South Panthers will be opening their season with an exhibition match against the Capital Rugby Union at Furman University in Greenville, SC.
This USA South team is looking to come back after underwhelming season last season. They have strong roster complete with several returning players from last years team, long time veterans from the 2013 championship campaign, and up and coming players from the collegiate system.
This year, the South Panthers will have returning veterans from their 2013 NACRA Championship team, in New Orleans Rugby Club teammates, Chance Doyle and Jeff Reuther, as well as Amir Khan, who currently plays with the Detroit Tradesman.
The 2014/2015 USA Rugby South Panthers were considered to be an inexperienced team with many first year players. This season, they will be returning six players from that 2014-2015 squad, including Flyhalf, Matt Hughston, who has added more experience this past year, being called up to the USA Rugby Olympic development camp, and capping with several sevens sides. Zack Blalock, who’s experience with the Birmingham Rugby Club and USA Rugby League has provided him proficient skills in the back field. Casey Davidson and Nathan Diggers, coming out of University of Georgia, earning All-SCRC honors this year. Tyler Bishop and Alejandro Ospina, out of Tallahassee and Charlotte, have been staples for their clubs.
The South Panthers aren’t just loaded with veteran talent, they have also added first time South Panthers who have deep resumes to their names:
Look for players like Corey Jones, a rising name in the USA Rugby echelon. Coming out of University of Arkansas, he has had the opportunity to play for Olympic development team for the USA Eagles, he was originally named on the NRFL list of potential pros. He’s been considered as one of the few players expected to play for the new Pro Rugby North America league.
Will Crawford is expected to make a major impact for the South Panthers. Will Crawford recently finished training in New Zealand, during the summer, with Hutt Old Boys Marist Rugby Club. Crawford has been a force with the Louisiana Tech Rugby Club, as their flanker.
Jose Laphitzondo comes out of Florida International University. One of the top players in the South Independent Rugby Conference, and part of the team that won the 2015 SIRC Championships, Jose Laphitzondo is one of the up and coming Fullbacks in the southeast.
The USA South Panthers hope to use this team to have a chance at the NACRA title for the 2016 season.
Tyler Bishop -Tallahassee
Zach Blalock – Birmingham
Irving Carcamo – Charlotte
Waymon Cassel – Nashville
Will Crawford – Louisiana Tech
Casey Davidson – University of GA
Chance Doyle – New Orleans
Nathan Driggers – University of GA
Daniel Falkner – Appalachian St
Jarrett Gartin – North Atlanta
Jesse Hackworth – Middle Tenn St U
Matt Hughston – Charlotte
Corey Jones – Little Rock
Amir Khan – Detroit Tradesmen
Jose Laphitzondo – Florida Int’l U
Ben Lopata – Louisiana Tech
Ron Omondi – Atlanta Old White
Alejandro Ospina – Charlotte
Jeff Reuther – New Orleans
Thomas Savoie – Louisiana Tech
Todd Sherer – Columbia
Doug Stillwell – East Carolina
Calvin Storey – Raleigh
Chase Suznevich – Charlotte
Ethan Suznevich – Charlotte
Rene Daniel – Head Coach, USARS
Dr. Renaldo Arroya – Valdosta St U
Francesco Balsas – Atlanta Old White
Manager – Gary Kent, Columbus/Fort Benning
Trainer – Sean Borman , Monster Sports Network
Video – Wes Darwin, Purple Moose Media
Director of Rugby – Kevin Kitto, USARS