College Players Learn, Grow In Summer Trip To Canberra

A group of seven USA-based college players are back home after spending their Northern Hemisphere summer in Canberra, Australia.

Training and playing with Easts in the Australian capital and getting the opportunity to work with coaches and players from the Super Rugby Brumbies, these college athletes got an intense rugby education during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

"It was pretty cold," said Mike McCarthy, a Saint Mary's College flyhalf. "I didn't really think of Australia as being cold, so even though I was told it would be cold, I wasn't really prepared for it!"

McCarthy was one of six Saint Mary's players in the program -- hooker Ethan Waller, scrumhalf Holden Yungert, lock Anthony Rodriguez, center Aaron Matthews, and wing Tommy Wallace were the other five. In addition, Cal Poly prop Connor Cudeback was among the players making the trip.



The players lived and trained together -- getting some much-needed donations from the Easts club faithful to furnish their home.

"It was a great experience as a player," Cudeback said. "The games were consistently faster and much more physical than [at home]. Scrums were much tougher as well. For me, the Brumbies have a great strength and conditioning program that we all bought into. Flexibility is definitely an underrated physical attribute in rugby, and the Brumbies staff knows that, so it was definitely a big part of our physical development in the academy."

The players played regular games for the Easts first-grade side and were embraced by the club.

"The people in our club, the coaches, and just people associated with the club, they all treated us really well," McCarthy said.

null

The players were able to learn from Brumbies coaches, and often found themselves rubbing elbows with some of the team's major stars.

"Coming from the States it seems like a lot of the community is out of touch with the professional players, whereas over here you walk into the gym and you see Christian Lealiifano and two days later he's calling you by your first name -- it's really cool," said Yungert in an interview with the Canberra Times.

For the players, adjusting to a more conservative, senior approach to the game was an adjustment. Both Yungert and McCarthy (as well as the other Gaels players) come from a program where tapping quickly, even in your own 22, and playing an open, running style is second nature.

"Sometimes we'd just play off each other the way we always do," McCarthy said. "Holden would get to the ruck and just ship it and I'd be there, but we'd realize we were alone. It was an adjustment."

However, toward the end of the season, Yungert was given more leeway to tap quickly simply because he was, at times, catching defenses unawares. McCarthy, meanwhile, played flyhalf and the Easts coaches made no effort to move him, instead dropping him into that position and allowing him to challenge his decision-making.

null

"From the first day they just threw me in and said, 'See what you can do with it,'" McCarthy said. "It definitely took some time to adjust to the pattern and flow of play. The first couple of games I felt really out of sorts, but by the end of it we were finding our groove."

McCarthy and Cudeback both said they learned a lot from their coaches and will be able to bring that knowledge back to their college teams.

"We got to work with Brumbies defense coach Peter Ryan, and [skills coach] Mick Byrne -- that was really cool," said McCarthy, adding that those coaches were "legit."

It was all a lot of time and effort but worth it.

"It was a lot of rugby," McCarthy said. "It was just about as much rugby as you'd want without it becoming overwhelming. It was perfect."

Men's, Women's 7s Eagles Back In Action In Hamilton

Following a lengthy five-week layoff, the HSBC Sevens World Series resumes this weekend in Hamilton, New Zealand, with both the Men's and Women's Eagles competing.

The Seawolves' 2020 Backline Will Be Lethal

First, we looked at the Seattle Seawolves' monstrous forward pack. Now, let's have a peak at the boys who will be running the show in the back line for 2020:

Huge Blow For Scotland As Finn Russell Removed From Team

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell will miss the Six Nations opener against Ireland after a "breach of team protocol", Scottish Rugby said on Thursday.

Watch: Exeter vs Harlequins & Sale vs Saracens

The Premiership Rugby Cup has reached its semifinal stage, with Sale, Harlequins, Exeter, and Saracens the last four standing. 

Andy Farrell, Eddie Jones See Silver Lining In Saracens Saga

Ireland coach Andy Farrell said Wednesday that he believes Eddie Jones will use the Saracens' salary cap scandal to "galvanize" England in the upcoming Six Nations Championship.

Seattle Seawolves' 2020 Forward Pack Is Loaded

The best teams tend to stay on top because they constantly keep improving, maintaining the gap between themselves and the rest of the pack. 

Old Glory Puts On A Show In Front Of Sellout Crowd

The long wait finally came to a close on Saturday, as Old Glory DC played its first match of 2020, a friendly against collegiate side Navy. 

Eddie Jones Picks His 34-Man England Side For Six Nations

Eight uncapped players have been called into Eddie Jones' England side for the 2020 Six Nations. 

Sabercats Fall To Tasman, But Show Encouraging Signs

The Houston Sabercats took part in their first preseason exhibition match on Saturday night against the Tasman Mako from New Zealand, falling in a close game 29-19. 

What's Next For Saracens Following Relegation?

Reigning Premiership and European champions Saracens will play in the second tier of English rugby next season, following their relegation from the top flight for salary cap breaches.