Fielding the top teams in in the Pacific Rugby Premiership and Women’s Premier League apparently isn’t enough for the Glendale Raptors.
The Raptors now have their sights set on fielding a championship Under-20 squad, which is part of a larger initiative to develop championship-caliber players as young as 5 years old through the Glendale Raptors Rugby Academy. Additionally, USA Rugby recently identified the need to retain high school graduating rugby players and this provides that opportunity to bridge the gap between men’s club rugby and school rugby.
The values-driven GRRA is the product of years of coaching development and expertise. It expands upon existing Raptors youth programs with a more aggressive, focused approach, creating a European-style academy program that offers a pathway of development that players can trace from kindergarten to the pros.
The Glendale Raptor Rugby Academy will form a U20 men’s program to begin competition this fall, 2016, in a newly formed competition for U20’s and university JV programs in the West Conference. The Raptors U20 team will compete against the Air Force Academy, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming along with other local college programs. Practice starts August 11th, 2016.
The newly formed coaching staff will be consist of:
- Head Coach Mark Bullock Director of Rugby
- Manager: Eric Geib, Glendale Raptor Rugby Academy
- Attack Coach Ethan Pougnet, Glendale Raptor Rugby Academy
- Strength and Conditioning Coach Nico Rithner, Raptor Rugby Academy
- Mental Skills Coach Katie Wurst, First15 Sport Performance
- Medical Coordinator Amy Valenta, Head Physiotherapist USA Rugby
- And more…
“The Glendale Raptors U20 program is an opportunity to close the gap between college and club rugby for those players who do not enroll immediately into a university rugby program,” Glendale director of rugby Mark Bullock explains. “This completes the pathway from youth to adult to pro to national team that the Glendale Raptors Rugby Academy can offer to aspiring rugby players.”
The U20 program will serve as both a continuation and final stage of the current GRRA curriculum, which has served young rugby players from the K-8 level up to the U16 and U18 levels.
The GRRA comprises a host of programs designed for youth as young as 5, with hopes they will graduate from youth teams to the high school team to the U20 team and eventually the first-team. Glendale coaches have spent years developing a values-driven program that progresses, from teaching rugby fundamentals to grade-school children to teaching high-level skills such as in-game awareness, tactical thinking, and leadership in addition to fundamentals.