May 31, 2024

USA U20s Set Sail for Crucial Matches Against Canada

A Rematch with High Stakes

The winner of this series will advance to the World Rugby U20 Trophy Championship held in Scotland in July. This annual competition, with a rotating host country, has a rich history between the USA and Canada. Since 2005, the teams have met 15 times, with Canada holding a slight edge of 8 wins to 7.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a hiatus for this series in 2019-2022, but last year the USA emerged victorious in both matches played in Spartanburg, SC, with a combined score of 82-35. This year's series will follow the same format.

Similarities and Differences

Both teams share some key characteristics. They select players from wide geographical areas, with most players coming from universities within their own countries. There are also five players from each team currently playing overseas while attending university. Interestingly, both head coaches hail from South Africa: Johannes "Neets" Gericke for the USA and Christiann Esterhuizen for Canada.

Canada returns five players from last year's squad, while the USA boasts 11, including captain Dom Besag who recently made his test debut with the senior USA team against Georgia. Additionally, the USA has six players who were elevated from the U18 Amsterdam touring roster, compared to Canada's promotion of 16 players from their U18 squad.

Financial Disparity

A noticeable difference lies in the financial backing each team receives. While Canada enjoyed a four-week intensive training camp leading up to these matches, the USA trained for ten days at Chuckanut Bay Rugby Grounds, deWilde Rugby & Polo Grounds in Bellingham, Wash.

The coaching support also differs. The USA has one head coach with one assistant, whereas Canada's head coach has up to nine assistants working with him over the four weeks. Furthermore, while Canadian players receive subsidized travel and additional compensation for participating in training regimens, USA players are responsible for their own travel costs to reach the training site.

A Call for Support

This disparity exists despite Canada having a population ten times smaller than the USA. Their robust U20 program is supported by various organizations, primarily Rugby Canada and the Canadian Rugby Foundation (CRF).

The CRF boasts a dedicated U20 Support Group Fund, designed to lessen the financial burden on players and enhance team preparation. This fund, along with matching contributions from Rugby Canada, ensures Canada has a well-prepared team. As of 2021, the CRF's Canada U20 fund held over $1.1 million according to their last published annual report, with additional resources dedicated to the program through an annual Captains' fund.

Investing in the Future

Like all USA Rugby programs, the U20s need additional support. With the groundwork for the 2031 Rugby World Cup in full swing, expenses will only increase as the team prepares for more international matches, longer training camps, and upgraded infrastructure. Contributions are crucial to cover basic necessities like travel, accommodation, coaching, and equipment.

While World Rugby provides some support for competition venues, additional funding is vital for the USA U20s to compete on the world stage. Donations are essential, not just to maintain the current level of performance but also to fuel the expected growth and success of the program.

Investing in these young athletes is an investment in the future of American rugby. The majority of these U20 players are on track to be a core group for the 2031 Rugby World Cup. Your donation, no matter the size, is deeply appreciated. Donate to USA Rugby U20 program here >>

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