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Pacific Coast Kids Get Skills Development

Thursday Jul 16, 2009 in Grassroots Rugby Youth

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Former USA U19 head coach Tony Smeeth just finished running a skills camp in Northern California, put on by the Pacific Coast

This U17 development camp in Quincy, Calif. involved a large number of coaches, including Smeeth, Rob Holder (coach of DII national club champs East Palo Alto), Clive Jones (former Director of Rugby at Pontypridd), former Eagles captain Jay Hansen, Lamorinda’s Matt Taylor, former All Americans Andy Armstrong, Jesuit coach Josh Fitsgerald, Wood Creek coach John Brennan and Silicon Valley Youth coach Norm Boccone.

Smeeth, who is now Director of Rugby at Trinity College, Dublin, and was formerly USA U19s head coach and Eagles assistant, oversaw the operation, which was designed to concentrate on skills development.

"The purpose of the camp is two-fold,” said Pacific Coast RFU president Frank Merrill. “Firstly to identify potential young players capable of one day running out for the Grizzlies and maybe on to the Eagles, secondly to develop and equip coaches to work with these potential young stars of the game. Obviously these young men will go back to their High school and Clubs enthused and up-skilled. That can only be good for Pacific Coast Rugby, right?"

Also stepping in to help and observe was USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville who readers will remember was also scrumhalf and captain for England. He put on a scrumhalf clinic.

The camp welcomes 52 players from all over the region and last six days.

Throughout the week the players were given self-evaluation tools. Sessions and scrimmages were broken down with Sportscode software. A major theme of the camp was to equip players to self analyze in terms of personal development both on and off the field.

"This has to be the way forward for American Rugby,” said Holder. “Empowering players to become students of their own game fits our approach to sport."

Smeeth, who used to coach in the Pacific Northwest, where he will run the next session, and started the USA U19 team, was pleased with the experience.

"My experience with the senior and high school game in the USA has brought me to the conclusion that equipping the players to be assess and evaluate themselves is the way forward for the game here,” he said.

The award for outstanding performance throughout the week went to scrumhalf Riley Locker of Chuckanut Bay and Jessie Milne, an outstanding center and prospect from PITS in Northern California.

The next camp will be held July 22-24 at Magnusson Park in Seattle. Accommodation has been set up for players who wish to turn this into a residency camp. Players who are interested in attending the Seattle sessions should contact Craig Wicks at 206-321-4409 or go to http://www.magnusonparkrugby.org for details and signup information.

- Alex Goff


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