The USA Rugby South Panthers men’s team held an open tryout this past weekend, hosted by the Birmingham Vulcans Rugby Club. The regional select side was scouting for new talent to add depth to its roster in preparation for a busy season. Approximately 45 players made the effort to spend two days at Erskine Ramsay Park showcasing their abilities. The first day included a fitness test, core skills, and an afternoon practice and scrimmage. The coaches and selectors had to make some tough decisions as the players responded well to the variety of drills. The camaraderie amongst players was excellent, as evidenced by a gathering at a local pub that night to watch the New Zealand-Argentina test match. The second day consisted of a morning run through followed by a game with the Birmingham Vulcans. Some current Panthers also made the trek to Birmingham, adding themselves to the mix and were able to guide and mentor new possible teammates.
Sunday’s match was a good test to see how quickly the side could come together. The Panthers proved themselves by besting Birmingham 34-3, with a particularly strong defensive performance. Lucas Baistrocchi (Okapi Wanderers RFC) captained the side at inside center, and other standout performances during match were fullback Zach Miller (NARC), wing Chase Riemer (Chattanooga), and 8man Lyall Harrison (Chattanooga).
Invitations for the selected players as well as current players will go out this week for the first match of the fall against Life University on November 6th in Marietta, GA. The Panthers will add some developmental players as well as give some players an extra look as part of a newly developed “A” side, which will play Life as well. The Panthers schedule continues in Richmond, VA on December 3rd against the Capital Rugby Union. After the new year, the Panthers will be playing preseason matches followed by a full Rugby Americas North (RAN) schedule of matches (yet to be determined).
The Panthers would like to thank Allen Kipp, his staff and selectors – Simone Bontly, Shaun LaForty and Lucas Baistrocchi for all their help in making this a successful camp.