Dubbed the North American Lions -- a direct nod to the British and Irish Lions touring team -- the program has drawn high school boys players from top teams in the USA and Canada to participate in the Boys U19 Invitational bracket of the Dubai 7s -- the series of events surrounding the World Series Dubai 7s, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
The team is coached by Greg Schor (Atlantis) and Tyler Leggett (Upright Rugby), with Michael Cressler (Utah Lions Academy) coaching and managing. The Lions' 12 players will be named shortly.
Players were reportedly enthusiastic about the opportunity, though the price tag to participate was pretty steep, and they had to commit to paying 45 days before the event. But 12 have already put in a hefty deposit and committed to play.
The idea behind it all was to help get more intense international experience for the very best in the USA and Canada.
"We can't just keep playing each other," Cressler said. "We need to go out and play somebody else."
International teams from France, South Africa, Kenya, and the Pacific Islands are expected to compete in Dubai against the North American Lions.
Most of the NA Lions players were scouted through high-profile events such as the NAI 7s. Only a few candidates had other commitments.
"We're all excited about it," Cressler said.
The team will play two pool games on Thursday, Nov. 30, and then one more pool game on Friday, Dec. 1, before finishing off with the knockout stages on Saturday, Dec. 2. The Lions will have the opportunity to play in the main stadium during a break in the World Series action.
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