LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Over half of the men that will be responsible for qualifying USA Rugby into the 2017 World Rugby U20 Trophy come from D1A Rugby. A 28-player AIG Men’s Junior All-American team has been selected, and the squad includes 15 players that represent D1A schools.
D1A National Champions Saint Mary’s places a pair of U20s on the side, including California Conference Freshman of the Year Payton Telea and 2016 Freshman of the Year Aaron Matthews.
The team the Gaels defeated in the 2017 D1A Final, Life, had three of their own selected: Justin Johnson, Daemon Torres and Harley Wheeler.
Two players with senior-level international caps to their name will be with the Junior All-Americans for its two-game U20 Trophy qualifying series against Canada. Lindenwood’s Deion Mikesell and Lorenzo Thomas earned a call up to the Eagles thanks, in part, to their performances with the Junior All-Americans in 2016. The two powerful backs will be joined by Lindenwooda teammates Cristian Rodriguez and Chance Wenglewski. Mikesell, Thomas and Rodriguez were all integral pieces to the Lions’ recent trophy hoisting tournament victory at the 2017 College 7s National Championships.
PAC Rugby Conference Champions Cal also have multiple players on the All-American side with freshman center Christian Dyer and sophomore hooker Jack Iscaro being brought in for the U20 assembly.
The Junior All-Americans are tasked with taking on Rugby Canada’s U20s in a two-match series beginning with a June 13 contest, followed by a meeting on Saturday, June 17. Both games will take place at Edmonton’s Ellerslie Rugby Park, and the team with the best cumulative score from the two games will earn qualification for the 2017 World Rugby U20 Trophy in Montevideo, Uruguay beginning Aug. 29.
The coaching staff for this summer’s Junior All-American assembly also has a D1A flavor to it. The team’s head coach, JD Stephenson, formally was the lead man at Lindenwood. Meanwhile, fellow U20 staff members Colton Cariaga and Jimmy Harrison are currently assistants at Life and Lindenwood, respectfully.
For more on the recently announced Junior All-American roster, visit USARugby.org.
D1A Players in the U20 squad:Jordan Crofts – Penn State
Christian Dyer – Cal
Jack Iscaro – Cal
Justin Johnson – Life
Jacob Jorstad – San Diego State
Aaron Matthews – Saint Mary’s
Deion Mikesell – Lindenwood
Jack Miller – Colorado
Cristian Rodriquez – Lindenwood
Payton Telea – Saint Mary’s
Lorenzo Thomas – Lindenwood
Daemon Torres – Life
Chance Wenglewski – Lindenwood
Harley Wheeler – Life
Jaret Williamson – St. Bonaventure