USA Rugby Press Release
USA Rugby Junior All-American Staff for 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy named by coach Lawrence
• Gavin Hickie named forwards coach
• Vaha Esikia to focus on individual skill development
BOULDER, Colo. – Scott Lawrence, the USA Rugby Junior All-Americans Head Coach, has announced his coaching staff leading into the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy – an international Under-20s tournament featuring the future stars of rugby from eight nations – in Salt Lake City in June 2012.
Lawrence’s staff consists of high school, college, and senior club coaches and all claim successes at their respective levels. Input to Lawrence from different viewpoints in tantamount to the long-term development of the USA Rugby Junior All-Americans.
Lawrence is the defense coach of Life University’s Rugby Super League team and has been heavily involved in the development of USA Rugby’s High Performance programs over the last five years. A former Eagle himself, Lawrence believes his role as Junior All-Americans head coach is one of the most enjoyable and one of the most crucial in the player pathway.
The two changes from Lawrence’s 2011 USA Rugby JWRT staff are the additions of Gavin Hickie and Vahafolau Esikia.
Hickie has played professionally in Europe for, among others, Leicester, Leinster, and the London Irish. He has taken the helm of Belmont Shore Varsity side and led the squad to a SoCal High School Varsity Championship this year.
Hickie has also begun leading USA Rugby coaching clinics with a specific focus on forward play and lineouts. Fittingly, he will be the forwards coach for the JAAs.
Hickie said, “I am honored to be working with Scott Lawrence and all of the staff at USA Rugby. Coaches are students of the game and I feel very fortunate to continue my rugby education within USA Rugby’s infrastructure. I look forward to working with the team in the Junior World Rugby Trophy and beyond.”
Esikia is a former Eagle and longtime club player from San Mateo, Calif. After moving to Las Vegas from California he founded the Las Vegas Rugby Academy in 2009. The Academy has grown to four full-contact sides and a touch league. Esikia is responsible for individual skill development with the USA Rugby Junior All-Americans.
Justin Hickey, Head Coach at Clemson University, will remain the team’s manager. Hickey was previously the High School All-Americans manager and has extensive experience in sports administration and rugby.
Jason Kelly who coaches the Denver Barbarians Rugby Super League team will coach the JAAs backline. Prior to joining the Barbos, Kelly coached the Las Vegas Blackjacks to a Men’s Division I Club National Championship in 2010.
Justin Goonan will be the JAAs Strength and Conditioning coach. Goonan owns a private sports performance business in Boston and works with the Boston College men’s rugby team.
Mike Diamantopolous, head coach of Boston’s Rugby Super League team, will serve as video analyst for the All-Americans.
Dr. Ben Cowin is the team’s medical coordinator and has worked for the NCAA, the St. Louis Cardinals, and various other professional sports.
Luke Gross is stepping down as USA Rugby JAAs forwards coach as he transitions into the role of USA Rugby Player Development Manager, overseeing the international player pathways and serving as a consistent eye for player development across all men’s and women’s high performance programs.
Chris Osentowski has stepped away from his role as scrum coach due to professional commitments.
The USA Rugby Junior All-Americans will assemble on May 19 to depart for a two-match series against the Canada Under-20s in Canada. The two matches will be played on May 23 and May 26 and will serve as tune-ups for the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy.
USA Rugby Junior All-Americans/USA U20s 2012 Staff
- Scott Lawrence (Life University) – Head Coach
- Justin Hickey (Clemson) – Manager
- Gavin Hickie (Belmont Shore) – Forwards Coach
- Jason Kelly (Denver Barbarians) – Backs Coach
- Vaha Esikia (Las Vegas Rugby Academy) – Individual Skill Development Coach
- Justin Goonan (Boston College) – Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Dr. Ben Cowin – Medical Coordinator
- Mike Diamantopolous (Boston RFC) – Video Analyst