Austin Elite Hold Combine

Alex Goff

Austin Elite of Major League Rugby held a combine Saturday in Austin, Texas, to look at several dozen players hoping to make the pro team.

New head coach Alain Hyardet, a former manager of Montpellier in France's Top 14, also had a chance to observe some of the on-contract Austin players mixed in with the hopefuls.

"We do not have this kind of thing in France," Hyardet told FloRugby. "In France, everyone goes through the levels -- 12, 14, 16, 18 years old. We know who is good at 20 years old. But here, we need to find them."

Players from Texas and as far away as California and Kentucky were put through a series of physical tests, rugby skills drills, and then a scrimmage.


Hyardet said he is looking to find experienced rugby players with a good attitude first, and then he will worry about athleticism. Still, there were some impressive showings. 

Combine attendee Matthews Radzavich had three excellent standing broad jumps, topping 3 meters each time.

"It just takes lots of squats, lots of power cleans -- years of training," Radzavich said.

Jemelle Shaw was the fastest sprinter, and he got a bit of a thrill when he met USA 7s speedster Carlin Isles, who was in town to visit family and who stopped by to observe the combine.

Will anyone get signed from this combine? It's hard to say, but what is clear is that the Austin Elite team made a big step in bringing the area's rugby players together. 

Large numbers from the Austin Huns and Austin Blacks came to the combine, showing a unity the MLR team needs to go forward.

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