Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sylvia Braaten Women's World Cup Profile

Wisconsin's Sylvia Braaten is on the USA Women's National team that will travel to France for the Women's World Cup beginning August 1st. A graduate of Waterford High School, she played basketball, and tennis in high school. At Marquette University she was a member of the women's basketball team's practice squad as a freshman before seeing a flyer for rugby, giving it a try, and "falling in love" with the game. She made an immediate impact at MU, and quickly earned a spot on the then u19 USA Eagles as they toured the U.K. in 2004, playing primarily as a center. Braaten went on to many selectside honors, and eventually moved to Minnessota to play for a premier league club up there, after graduation. Currently she works full time as a strength and conditioning coach at a high school in Minnessota. At 5'8" and 155 lbs, she has a wonderful combination of speed, power, and passing skills. She's also listed as a flyhalf, as a secondary position.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stars and Stripes Rosters Announced

Congratulations to all the girls named to the 2nd Annual Stars and Stripes camp held by USA Rugby.

 St Joseph's Academy senior Ali DeCrane was named to her second camp, a pretty special achievement. She's been a heck of a player for years down there and it's well-deserved. She joins several others in repeating, like another standout, Danville senor scrumhalf Fina Toetu'u.

 The staff here at WGR was a little shocked at first to not see a single Wisconsin girl named to the camp, especially with some strong teams and committed ruggers in the state. But, then we thought about it a few minutes and it registered. It appears not to be a reflection of the talent in the state, but more a reflection of politics at this time. Something seen at higher levels and selectsides in all sports. 

USA Rugby is pushing their pathway hard and if you want to part take in their camps, you have to play for an "all-star" team in the build up. So the teams, which are stacked with deserving and amazing athletes, won't include all the amazing and most talented athletes. That's true for all selectsides, in reality. There are always factors that play into this .. availability, cost, injury, etc. So, the young athletes that weren't able to be a part of the camp this year should not feel too let down. 

One concern WGR has with USA Rugby pushing hard that to be considered an athlete must play for their state, without exception, is the pressure this puts on some of our best, young high school athletes to play injured for a state level select-side, otherwise they have no chance in being involved in the even higher level camps down the road. Select-side coaches often have a different perspective on players, which can be refreshing, but at the same time they often don't have an understanding of how much mileage an athlete has accumulated in a season. This we hope is where a young adult has to weigh their decisions carefully, and with discussion with their parents and mentors.

 At the same time, players and parents should keep in mind that a good rugby player will have lots of opportunities to play for "all-star" teams at other points in their career. Just because one cannot or did not make this one, does not mean other teams, at other age groups (collegiate, regional, etc) are not open to try outs as well. This reminds us at WGR, unfortunately, about how rugby has in the past had a trend of burning out great young athletes by having them play year-round, for every selectside in the book (state, region, USA u20, u23, etc), perhaps against older, stronger ladies, in rapid succession. Perhaps this is fine in soccer, but in a game with as much contact as rugby, this is an area we are concerned with. We wonder if this growing trend towards more all-star rugby will continue? Probably. It's usually a good experience for these young athletes who can afford it. Other factors in the discussion: Will the inclusion of more 7's rugby mean even less time off for athletes to recover, or get stronger? Or will it give them more of a break from the contact of 15's and improve their skills/conditioning? Of course, the USA needs more good rugby to compete with the other rugby playing nations, so these kinds of events are critical to buildig up the experience of elite level athletes. And perhaps that's the bottom line: we are only talkng about the most elite level athletes at this point. STARS and STRIPES 2014 Rosters Ashlee Byrge Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Daja Curtis Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Sheila Decker New England Challenge Cup VYRA Ali DeCrane Midwest All Stars Ohio Lilly Durbin Great Northwest Challenge Socal Tess Feury Challenge Cup New York Rachel Fitch Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Ellie Fromstein Midwest All Stars Minnesota Hanna Garcia Challenge Cup Indiana Alana Girardin New England Challenge Cup MYRO Renee Gonzales Midwest All Stars Minnesota McKenzie Hawkins Karee Helgerson Great Northwest Challenge Rugby Oregon Mata Hingano Rocky Mountain Challenge NorCal Hedvig Karlson Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Grace Kiraly Midwest All Stars Indiana Joie Krahling Challenge Cup Pennsylvania Paige Krahling Haley Langan New England Challenge Cup VYRA Maya Learned Rocky Mountain Challenge Colorado Hannah Lewandowski Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Diarr Lillie Great Northwest Challenge SoCal Megan Mackay Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Ilona Maher New England Challenge Cup VYRA Az Nalbandian New England Challenge Cup MYRO Michel Navarro Great Northwest Challenge SoCal Kate Payson Challenge Cup Emily Prentice Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Kat Ramage Challenge Cup NY Annemarie Reed Challenge Cup Pennsylvania Ashley Rolsma Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Becca Rosko Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Emily Roskopf Rocky Mountain Challenge/Great Northwest Challenge Norcal Andrea Sanabria Midwest All Stars Minnesota Frankie Sands New England Challenge Cup VYRA Caitie Sands New England Challenge Cup VYRA Lindsay Songer Great Northwest Challenge NorCal Jordan Stewart Great Northwest Challenge Montana Suli Tausinga Rocky Mountain Challenge/Great Northwest Challenge NorCal Abby Tobias Challenge Cup Virginia Fina Toetu'u Rocky Mountain Challenge NorCal Danielle Walko-Suia Great Northwest Challenge Hawaii Caitlin Weigel Midwest All Stars Ohio Lily Weldon Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Elizabeth Wilson Challenge Cup Virginia

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wisc. Boys State Final Video

The boys side of the high school rugby game in Wisconsin continues to grow at astounding rates. With leagues and conferences in Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox Valley, and Green Bay area, they are split into the Southeast (Milw. and Madison) under Badgerland Rugby and under N.E.W (North-East Wisc.) featuring the Green Bay-Fox Valley area. This year's boys state championship, played in Breese Stadium in Madison can be viewed here. Great to see all the rugby being played around the state. It's also interesting to compare the skills and styles of the boys and girls leagues.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"The Try from the End of the World"

Today is the 20th anniversary of "the try from the end of the world." It's also the last time the New Zealand All Blacks lost a match in Auckland.

The French wing who caught the ball and started it all also happens to be the current head coach of France.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lakefront 7's Recap

The first girls high school match of the day featured Wisconsin Division Two 7's State Champs, the Appleton Dragons against the Division 1 State Champs in Catholic Memorial. Memorial, playing without several noteable seniors, nonetheless had a lot of experience out there. A nice break from Dragon's senior standout and WI HS Selects player, Aleah Loll, got them on the board early, but Memorial's experience led to them controlling possession.

Prior to kickoff, Atlanta rugby legend and USA women's Eagle Pat Neder took time out of her playing schedule for a short talk and picture with Memorial about her experiences. Neder is a Catholic Memorial High School alumn, who played in the Olympics in team hand ball and played rugby for the Women's 7's and 15's national team on several occassions. Neder was just inducted into the CMHS Hall of Fame this summer.

Appleton was able to play an excellent game against Penn HS in their second match.  they came back and tied the Indiana team 22 to 22,  Jackie Helmied, Brianna Olson, and Brianna Reehl from Fondy played well.

 Memorial played Penn HS out of Indiana. Memorial's Senior flyhalf, Molly Langhenry, headed to play at UN-Iowa in the fall, sparked a comeback as Penn High School out of Indiana scored first in the most competitive and best-played match of the day. Penn played CMH in the LF 7's final last year, so this was a highly anticipated match. Penn Coach Adrian Sharkey had them dominating possession early and playing some strong, organized defense. They came out hard and scored about a minute in. Then, the match fell into a pattern. After three or four phases of sustained Penn attack, Memorial's defense held, got the turnovoner, and moved the ball and scored. Langhenry scored two tries in this fashion

. Sophomore forward Meaghan Schmitt caused problems for Penn's lineouts with her height, and she scored the final try of the match, after a turnover, as she broke one tackle, stiff armed another, and barreled into the tryzone to finish the match.

 Our third highlighted match of the day featured Muskego, playing with some Oak Creek and Brookfield girls as well. The story of the game was the try-scoring display by junior Reina Anderson, from Wauwatosa East High Schol and Brookfield Rugby. A track standout, she raced her way to four tries. With their third consecutive LF 7's title already wrapped up, Memorial's developmental side gained more valuable experience and they staged a nice comeback in the second half, scoring a long try and critical conversion to tie the match at the final whistle. Appleton would also lose to the dangerous Muskego team. While Penn went on to defeat Muskego. CMHS 22 Appleton 5 CMHS 25 Penn HS 5 Penn HS over Muskego Plus CMHS 22 Muskego Plus 22

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lakefront Sevens Results

Incomplete results so far

CMHS 22 Appleton 5
CMHS 25  Penn HS 5
Penn HS over Muskego Plus
CMHS 22 Muskego Plus 22
Appleton v Penn HS
Appleton v Muskego Plus

Memorial wins its third consecutive Lakefront Sevens.