Competition Against Canada Gives New Insight For Florida Rugby

By Stephen Sheehan

To be the best, you have to beat the best. And while they weren’t able to notch a win, the Florida High Performance Sevens squad enjoyed an unforgettable and humbling experience at IMG Academy on Saturday, October 28.

Some of the best rugby sevens players from across the Sunshine State gathered in Bradenton to take on Canada’s national sevens side in a quartet of incredibly fast-paced touch matches.

Facing international stars like John Moonlight, Nathan Hirayama and Harry Jones, the 23 Floridians got a first-hand glimpse at the level of professionalism, focus and talent it takes to compete for a spot on an Olympic-quality side.

Though the Florida HPP team failed to dot down a try on the afternoon, players and coaches gained invaluable insight from the nearly two hours of rugby played on one of IMG Academy’s pristine practice pitches.

While the Canadian side obviously boasted better chemistry, fitness and overall skill, they were incredibly down to earth throughout the weekend. Despite being guests themselves at the IMG Academy campus, the Canadians showed great hospitality and sportsmanship in allowing the Florida players to utilize IMG’s state-of-the-art ice baths and training room. In addition, Moonlight and Jones delivered words of wisdom to the aspiring Florida ruggers and even threw in some free Canada team shirts as a token of appreciation for everyone who made the trip.

“We had a squad that got thrown together at the last minute,” said Florida Director of 7’s Steve Braunstein. “A lot of our players are just normal guys who volunteer their own time. However, we’re trying to get our program to compete with the best people in the world.”

The combination of Braunstein and Ronnie Suarez—who also coaches at Florida International University—has catapulted the state’s sevens program to new heights.

“In only two years we’ve been able to put together a program that’s been able to play at a high level,” explained Braunstein. “We have fared very well against Olympic Development Academies across the country out in Vegas, including beating Arizona, Utah and Ohio.”

One player who has been instrumental in transforming the program into a legitimate contender is Jeff Herron. The mechanical designer engineer first picked up a rugby ball in 2005 while attending the University of South Florida, and he’s continued his playing career with Tampa Bay Krewe since 2009.

Herron has been a staple within the Florida HPP 7’s program since 2014 and has been able to play against top-level competition such as Mexico’s national sevens team. Even for an experienced player like Herron, the showdown against Canada was truly eye opening.

“Canada’s pace of play was incredible,” Herron said. “I felt that we matched up with them fairly well in speed. They definitely had us on man-for-man size, but their pace of play was really the difference. Their breakdowns were secured and over with in the blink of an eye.”

Canada and Florida HPP 7s Scrimmage
Canada and Florida Group Photo after the Games

While the scoreboard didn’t fall in Florida’s favor, the chance to play a world-class side at a world-class facility was a welcomed treat for players who often have to pay their own way while working typical day jobs.

“Any opportunity to play against a high level opponent is a chance to test ourselves and also to improve,” Herron said. “There is so much to learn from these matches and the more we are exposed to that level, the sooner we as a group will be able to compete and play at that level. Players with this kind of experience will learn, improve, and then have the chance to take that knowledge back to their club and share that with their local teammates.”

Level 1 and Level 2 Referees Course hosted by FRRA

We have Level 1 and Level 2 Referee courses scheduled for Sept 17th in Sebastian at Sebastian River High School.

Course fee is $60 and registration closes before the event.

All participants must be current registered members of USA Rugby.

You need to complete USA Rugby’s Player Protection Package (PPP) as well as the Laws of the Game and Rugby Ready certifications from World Rugby – these are available on the registration links below.

Level 1:

Level 2:

Level 200/World Rugby Level 1 Coaching Clinic – University of Florida

The Level 200 Coach Certification consists of online pre-course work and attendance at an in-person clinic. The course structure helps to blend the “how to coach” theory with the practical implementation of coaching Rugby.

The Level 200 Coach Certification focuses on player welfare and teaching players the technical skills to play safely. The assessment requires coaches to demonstrate effective coaching techniques. These techniques include teaching through games, technical skill development through progressions and collaborative coaching.

What do I have to do to complete this level?

Complete the Level 100: World Rugby Rugby Ready online at registration link

Complete the Level 200 online pre-course work online at the registration page above

Attend the 1 day in person Level 200 clinic

Registration closes August 24 and is limited to the first 20 registrants. You must be a member of USA Rugby to register. Cost is $110 for the course.

FRU Men’s D2 and D3 Schedules Released

The Men’s D2 and D3 League Schedules have been released to the clubs. Clubs may change/switch dates upon approval of the Men’s VP and the FRRA Referees Society. We are currently finalizing the Women’s D2, College Women D1 and D2, and the College Men’s NSCRO and D2 Schedules to try to align some of the matches where possible (multiple teams playing in the same city on the same day). The men’s schedules can be found at the following link, and subsequent schedules will be posted to this master page : 2016/2017 Schedules

Stephanie Browne Invited to USA Olympic Training\Tryout Camp

It is with great enthusiasm the Florida Rugby Union and 7’s High Performance Program wish Stephanie Browne the best of luck on her invitation to the Rugby Women’s 7s Academy Camp June 15-June 19 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

The 2016 USA Women’s Olympic team will be chosen from this camp and we look forward to Stephanie performing like she did in Las Vegas Invitations against France & Japan.  Those efforts earned her this opportunity and the FRU HPP program will continue to provide venues like this for our Florida rugby athletes to showcase their abilities.


Stephanie Brown, Florida Rugby High Performance Women's Rugby Chosen for USA Olympic Training\Tryout Camp - Road to Rio
Good Luck Stephanie!
Steve Braunstein
Director of Florida 7’s
Assistant Coach of HPP

Florida 7s Series and National 7 Qualification

We have had three great social tournaments. Now we are about to begin the three tournament qualification series.
Click here to view a document that details on the Florida 7s Series and how the subsequent National Qualification process will work. Please read it carefully so can fully understand what your requirements are as a team wishing to earn one of the two Florida seeds to the South Qualification Tournament on July 23rd.
The document has been created to help guide you through the eligibility and qualification process. We are here to help you, we are not out to try and catch you in technicality we want to ensure that we can get all of your players eligible if you advance onto the South Tournament and hopefully Nationals in Denver.
If your team is wishing to be a qualifying team you need to ensure all of your players are appearing your teams USA Rugby Online Roster. If a player is not on your roster and you wish for them to be eligible play on your qualifying team you need to have them complete the USA Rugby Transfer process. Please note this process can take up to a week or more to complete. Please have your effected players do this ASAP ensure no issues come first tournament next weekend.
There are two methods to completing the transfer process.
Method 1 — Fastest Method
  • Have you player log into their account on the USA Rugby registration system. They can do that by clicking here.
  • Once they logged in, please find the tab of left hand side that says “Change Club Affiliation” it is at top under Member Area.
  • Follow the instructions to complete the transfer.
  • If player is transferring from outside of the FRU they will have pay $15 membership fee to USA Rugby for the transfer to be complete.
Method 2 — Old Method
  • Go — complete the form
  • Once completed you will have to your old club write a email to USA Rugby stating that you have been released. USA Rugby will guide you in this process.
If you have any issues at with player transfers please contact, Justin Holshuh at USA Rugby his number is 303.539.0300 extension 110. Please do not wait until Friday before the tournament to try and solve transfer issues. We can also help as well. The final deadline for transfers is July 1st. Players must be transferred before then and/or before they participate in a Qualifying Tournament.
Below is a list (both Men & Women) who have told us that they wish compete for one of the two Florida seeds for the South Qualifier. If you are not on this list and you wish to be on this list please let us know ASAP or if you are on this list and you no longer wish to be on it please also let us know.
Womens Teams
  1. Orlando Women
  2. Ft Miami
  3. Phoenix Sevens
Mens Teams
  1. Miami RFC
  2. Naples Hammerheads
  3. Daytona Beach (Playing as Rolls Royce)
  4. Brevard Red Eye
  5. Orlando Men
  6. Bay Area Barracudas Sevens
  7. Boca Raton
  8. Gainesville Hogs
  9. Okapi Wanderers
  10. Treasure Coast
We still need to exact clarification on team paperwork requirements from USA Rugby and the South Conference Directors. Once we have that we will disburse that to all of the qualifying teams. At the moment we want all teams focusing on ensuring that all their players are correctly rostered. As you can see we have 13 teams total to help with please do not delay in this process.
Lastly the three remaining tournaments registrations are open, it is all of the teams responsibility to ensure that they register for each tournament by the deadline. Fiji Sevens deadline is fast approaching and they only have 4 teams paid so far please get your registration in asap. More information on registration is available at

Men’s Club Competition Survey

To help us better prepare for the 2016/17 season, we are requesting each Men’s Club complete this short survey this is your way to help shape what the future direction of the league season may be. Each club is only allowed to complete the survey once. All surveys we ask that clubs complete this by midnight on Monday June 13th so we have enough time to process them and build a plan. We will then have a conference call on Tuesday June 21st to initially discuss possible options for the 2016/17 season. This conference call will help reduce time spent discussing league play at the AGM.

AGM information

AGM Information June 26
Meeting Location — Orlando Public Library – 101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801
Meeting Room — Cypress Room  — 3rd Floor
Meeting Time — 130pm to 430pm
Meeting Agenda (from the bylaws)
1. The “President” (as hereinafter defined) will report on the affairs of the Union during the period since the last Annual General Meeting;
2. The “Treasurer” (as hereinafter defined) will report on the financial affairs of the Union during the period since the last Annual General Meeting;
3. The Union members shall elect the Union Officers for the coming year; – N/A for 2016, not an election year
4. The Union shall address any scheduling issues related to upcoming year, as a whole group or through subcommittee meetings organized by divisions – President will ask prior to meeting to move this to end
5. The Union shall address the budget related to upcoming year (see role of Officers in setting budget in Article 6)
6. The Union shall consider any new business (including agenda items submitted by members).
7. The members will consider any applications for Union membership by new clubs, which
consideration shall be subject to the provisions of Section 2.01(a) hereof;