Big Step For EIRA As Ireland Tour Begins

Big Step For EIRA As Ireland Tour Begins

The Eagle Impact Rugby Academy select team is on its way to Ireland after a couple of days training at the U.S. Military Academy's Anderson Rugby Complex in West Point, New York.

Jul 19, 2017 by Alex Goff
Big Step For EIRA As Ireland Tour Begins
The Eagle Impact Rugby Academy select team is on its way to Ireland after a couple of days training at the U.S. Military Academy's Anderson Rugby Complex in West Point, New York.

The EIRA team is preparing to face Ulster Academy U17s on Saturday, July 22, in Belfast; Leinster Academy U17s on Tuesday, July 25, in Dublin; and Ulster Academy once more on Friday, July 28, back in Belfast.

The Ireland trip is a homecoming for EIRA head coach Salty Thompson, who grew up in Belfast, and a new chapter for the EIRA program, which has previously only toured to Canada. An EIRA team already went to British Columbia last week, and another squad will make a trip to Ontario later this month.

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There isn't much overlap among the five EIRA teams, and at one point the coaches sincerely doubted whether they could find enough players to compete. So far, the returns have been good in West Point.

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This week, Thompson worked on attack with the EIRA players while Scott Bracken handled scrums and lineouts and kick reception. John Banarhall (who is an assistant coach at Army) instructed the visitors on defense, and EIRA had Culver Military Academy head coach Darrell Knowlton, a clinical psychologist in his day job, working on team building. The players got to learn a little about West Point history from Black Knights men's head coach Matt Sherman as well.

Army rugby Head Coach Matt Sherman talks to the players about some West Point history.

While the players went through a number of tactical and game-plan issues, they also focused on the basics. EIRA was founded on the idea that working the core skills will make better rugby players and rugby teams.

"All the systems in the world won't help if you don't have the skills," Thompson said. "That's still a big part of what we do."

The players had a full day on Monday and a half-day on Tuesday before flying out to Ireland. This EIRA group includes standouts from all over the country and a large number of players who impressed in the Boys High School Rugby National Championships or in the FloRugby Hot Lists. They worked within EIRA chapters around the country and are familiar with the Eagle Impact approach, if not each other.

It's going to be a new and challenging experience for this squad, but there are also some question marks for the teams EIRA will face in Ireland. Both Leinster and Ulster are preparing for later provincial competition, and their coaches are using the EIRA games to try out some combinations and see where they stand. And that's what it's all about for all of these kids.

First Name Last Name School Year Ht Wt Position Rugby Club City State
Tyren Aljiboori Jr 6'1" 187 Wing Union High Tulsa OK
Austin Arnett Jr 6'2" 185 Flanker Tribe Rugby Athens TN
Ayden Augspurg So 6'0" 225 Prop Parkhill UTD Kansas City MO
Alexander Cleary Jr 6'0" 185 Lock Chuckanut Ferndale WA
Nolan Filteau Jr 6'2" 245 Prop Amoskeag Bow NH
Matthew Freeman So 5'9" 185 Hooker Gonzaga Silver Spring MD
Mateo Gadsden Jr 6'4" 198 Wing Back Bay Costa Mesa CA
Jasper Green Jr 6'4" 185 Fullback St Paul's, London San Francisco CA
Kaipono Kayoshi Jr 6'0" 187 Lock Granite Bay Granite bay CA
Isaia Kruse Jr 5'8" 155 Wing Bullard Fresno CA
Russell Lemaster So 6'1" 210 No. 8 Royal Irish Indianapolis IN
Niklas Lundqvist Jr 6'0" 205 Flanker Coastal Dragons Encinitas CA
Michael Maafu Jr 6'1" 220 No. 8 Tempe Phoenix AZ
John McCrossin Jr 6'1" 185 Flanker Fort Hunt Alexandria VA
Christiaan Mosconi Jr 5'6" 150 Scrumhalf Back Bay Aliso Viejo CA
Zachary Neff Jr 6'0" 187 Lock C.K. McClatchy Sacramento CA
Sean Nolan So 6'2" 175 Flyhalf Back Bay Laguna Beach CA
Gavin Prentice So 6'0" 240 Prop Eastside Lions Seattle WA
James Reid Fr 5'11" 175 Center Loudoun Purcellville VA
Cole Semu Jr 5'10" 190 Center Chuckanut Ferndale WA
Quinn Sheppard Jr 6'3" 200 Lock C.K. McClatchy Carmichael CA
Sidney Shoop Jr 5'6" 135 Scrumhalf South Greenvill Fletcher NC
Adam Tounkara Jr 6'2" 270 Prop Maryland Exiles Rockville MD
Alex Vaca Jr 5'8" 180 Center Santa Monica Santa Monica CA
Jordan Wander Jr 6'3" 220 Flanker Harlequin Colts Richardson TX
Inoke Waqavesi Jr 5'8" 180 Center C.K. McClatchy Sacramento CA
Michael Weir Jr 5'10" 149 Flyhalf Doylestown Schwenksville PA
Larry Williams Jr 5'11" 215 Hooker Clayton Clayton NC

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