All posts by smgfelke

2017 Rugby Sevens Las Vegas Invitational 7s – Florida Team Picks

Thanks to everyone for the effort and hard work the last couple of months. This year’s team selection has been the most difficult of all for the coaches; there were many talented athletes to choose from.  The teams selected for the 2017 Las Vegas Invitational tournament are:

Women’s

Stephanie Browne – Orlando
Stephanie Nevadunsky – Fort Miami
Jaqueline Edge – University of Central Florida
Brittany Broomfield – Florida International University
Leandria Ates – Florida International University
Cortney Kuehl – University of Central Florida
Jessica Warner – University of Central Florida
Ashaunte Stroman – Florida International University
Jennifer Fasano – University of Central Florida
Tatum Walker – Fort Miami
Agnes Fuerst – University of Central Florida
Amanda Divich – Unattached (formerly Lindenwood University)


Men’s

David Washington – Jacksonville RFC
Jeffrey Herron – Tampa Krewe
Mateo Velazquez – Florida International University
Damien Clemente – Miami RFC
Cagney Kobrin – Unattached (formerly Miami 7’s)
Malacchi Esdale – University of Central Florida
Tristan Dignan – University of Central Florida
Tyler Pigott – Naples Hammerheads
Scott Watson – University of Central Florida
Eddie Abreu – Orlando
Roderigus Ceasar – Unattached (formerly Narooma Devils, Rugby League Australia)
Santiago Laphitzondo – Florida International University

Congratulations to all!

Florida RDA Picks First 5 for Vegas 7s

The Florida RDA is proud to announce the first 5 women and men to this years Vegas Invitational Tournament where they will once again play in the elite division. 

Matches last year included the women taking on Japan and Frances National teams and the men competing against the USA Falcons and Frances National B side. We look forward to similar matches this year.

 
Cortney Kuehl

Jacqueline Edge

Jessica Warner

Lele Ates

Stephanie Brown

 
Cagney Kobrin

Clemente Damien

Jeff Herron

Malacchi Esdale

Mateo Velazquez

 
We still need to make seven more selections for each side, which we will plan to make after the Jan 22 Training in Sebastian.
For more information please contact:
Steve Braunstein

Florida Director 7’s

239-707-7848

Stevensbraunstein@gmail.com

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.”

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

GULF COAST 7S

Bay Area Pelicans is hosting Gulf Coast 7s May 21st, 2016 at the Lakewood Sports Complex, 2001 Country Club Way S., St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

Includes: Men’s, Women’s and U19 Open Division.
Registration deadline May 19th. Click here for details on how to register.

 

Fee for Men’s team $200
Fee for Women’s team $150
Fee for U19’s $10

St Pete 7s

Tournament Location – http://stpeteparksrec.org/lakewood-soccer.html

Post Tournament Social – www.undertowbeachbar.com
Any Questions contact Mark Bongo- Rugbybongo@gmail.com

Surfin’ 7s Tournament Info

Saturday, June 4, 2016, 10 a.m. onwards
Pine Trails Park, 10555 Trails End, Parkland, FL 33076

$250 for senior teams, $150 for high school

10% early discount if paid by May 21

As a bit of a wrinkle, we’re not having posts this year! Going to be similar to Beerfoot, but with 5-point and 7-point zones instead. Park won’t let us dig holes, so giving this a shot.

We will also be hosting USA South vs. Cayman Islands in an international 15s friendly at 5 p.m.

Summer 7s Schedule

As the warming weather suggests, summer is closer, which means the summer 7s tournaments are just around the corner! Here is the preliminary schedule – take note and plan ahead!

May 14 – Sunshine State 7s – Brian Piccolo Park – Broward

May 21 – Gulf Coast 7s – Lakewood Soccer Complex – St. Petersburg

June 4 – Surfin 7’s -Parkland

June 18 – Fiji 7s – Miami (Qualifying Tournament)

June 25 – Todd Miller 7s – Orlando (Qualifying Tournament)

July 9 – Tampa Krewe – Tampa (Qualifying Tournament)

July 23 – Souths (location TBA). Hosted by Carolinas.

Aug 6 – Beerfoot – Ft Myers (pending approval)

Florida Rugby Union Announces Las Vegas Invitational Selections

Article by Stephen Sheehan, FRU PR and Content Manager

On the men’s side, the battle for the 12 exclusive spots came down to the wire, but head coach Ronnie Suarez is confident that this year’s team has what it takes to make a significant splash in Vegas. With players from both the college and men’s ranks, it’s clear the overall talent level across the state has improved dramatically from just a year ago.

Representing FRU in Las Vegas will be:

  • Joe DiGregorio – Brevard 
  • Damian Clemente – Miami RFC
  • Jeffrey Herron – Tampa Krewe
  • Jonathan Halter – Gainesville  
  • Adrian Salazar – Miami RFC
  • Mateo Velazquez – Florida International University (FIU)
  • Alex Vinkavich – Miami Tridents
  • Jude Kermundu – Naples 
  • Nick Daniel – Florida International University (FIU)
  • Hank May – Gainesville
  • Tyler Piggot – Naples  
  • Matthew Coore – Indian River

In addition, the six non-traveling reserves for the men’s side include:

  • Isaac Leite – University of Florida (UF)
  • Adrian White – Fort Lauderdale 
  • Paul Diaz – Orlando 
  • Dewayne Parks Jr. – Brevard  
  • Julius Fletcher – Treasure Coast 
  • Barrington McNutt – Florida International University (FIU)

The FRU is also pleased to announce the women’s side that looks to shock a stacked pool of international sides in Vegas. Representing Florida for the women are:

  • Leandria Ates – FIU Womens Rugby 
  • Ashley Bengston – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby
  • Stephanie Browne – Phoenix Rugby 7s
  • Cassidy Davis – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Jacqueline Edge – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Agnes Fuerst – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Vivian Junger Silveira – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby
  • Shannon Steele – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Corntey Kuehl – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Zoe Sanchez-O’Neill – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Jesenia Torres – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Tatum Walker – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby

Jessica Warner of UCF and Lindsey Koren of UF Womens Rugby were selected to play but are unavailable due to injury.

Congratulations to all the players selected to represent Florida rugby at the LVI. We look forward to watching you put your talent on display at the top rugby sevens competition in the United States.

Florida 7s Development Camps

By Stephen Sheehan, FRU PR and Content Manager

When it comes to rugby in the United States, there isn’t a bigger event than the Las Vegas Invitational. North America’s largest rugby tournament takes place right alongside the USA Sevens invitational rugby tournament that features domestic stars like Carlin Isles and Perry Baker as well as international legends like New Zealand’s D.J. Forbes, England’s Tom Mitchell and South Africa’s Cecil Afrika.

While many established stars will be on display, Vegas is also a place where aspiring ruggers can catch the eye of national team scouts and coaches. It’s for that reason that Ronnie Suarez, Steve Braunstein, Evan Haigh and the rest of the coaches, volunteers and staff from the Florida Rugby Union have collaborated to put together the best men’s and women’s squads to represent The Sunshine State in March.

After a competitive showing at last year’s event where they took home wins over Arizona Olympic Development Academy and Utah ODA, the coaches went back to the drawing board to formulate a plan that addressed the team’s weaknesses, which mostly surrounded the art form of passing. So far, the results are positive.

“After our LVI review of last year, we looked as what we needed to do and we decided to really push the fundamentals individually to each club team through the players involved in the program,” said Suarez. “The proof was in the past summer 7’s, as not only was it the best it had been in a long time but also the teams primarily consisted of two or three players involved in the FRU 7’s RDA. Those players coming back had not only improved individually but had also brought in other teammates who had developed their skills as well.”

Unlike last year where getting consistent numbers at the squad’s training sessions in Sebastian were a struggle, the turnout has been terrific for both the men’s and women’s sides this year. At a recent training session earlier this month, 41 men and 30 women battled muddy pitches and competed hard for coveted spots on their respective teams.

“The men’s pool has grown, which is making selections difficult,” said Braunstein, the FRU 7’s director. “It’s a nice problem to have one side but trying to make sure we make the right picks is stressful. The women’s pool is surprisingly large for this first year and the same challenge is being presented.”

The overall player pool includes representatives from 15 club teams as well as two Rugby League teams. On the men’s side, seven players have already been selected, including Damian Clemente (Miami RFC), Jonathan Halter (Gainesville), Jeffrey ‘Alaska’ Herron (Tampa Krewe) and Mateo Velazquez (Florida Internation University). Suarez has also been impressed by Jude Kermundu (Naples), Matt Coore (Indian River) and Hank May (Gainesville), who have made great strides over the past year.

On the women’s side, Haigh, Sandi Felke and Mark Bongo have been tasked with putting together the FRU’s first LVI women’s squad—a task that’s much easier said than done. Luckily, the numbers have continually improved at the Sebastian training sessions and there is a ton of optimism surrounding the program.

Though the Sunshine State doesn’t receive as much national recognition as it may deserve, the number of Florida natives who came up through the FRU 7’s program may change that. The brightest star is obviously national team speedster Perry Baker, but he’s not the only name worth mentioning. Kris Thomas has taken off as a member of the women’s national 7’s team, Peter Malcolm (Taravella High School/Wheeling Jesuit University) is making waves on the USA Falcons squad and Ashaunte Stroman (FIU) is playing both 15’s and 7’s for the USA Collegiate All-American squad.

Dana Meschisi (Florida State University), Victoria Folayan (Poinciana High School), Jessica Wooden (University of Florida) and Kim Semiglia (Weston) are all in the national mix at camps and training squads.

For both the men’s and women’s FRU 7’s teams, Vegas represents the chance to not only further individual interests but the state’s as a whole. As Florida rugby gains more attention on a national scale, the opportunities for scholarships, pro contracts and recruiting will only increase. With only one more training session in February, the competition for a roster spot is as tight as ever as the race to Vegas inches closer.