Kelly to lead USA U20s on return to JWC stage

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 11 December 2012
 Kelly to lead USA U20s on return to JWC stage
USA enjoyed JWRT success on home soil in 2012 to return to the Junior World Championship stage

Former USA Eagle Jason Kelly has been handed the role of USA Under 20 coach as they prepare for a return to the IRB Junior World Championship stage in 2013 after an absence of five years.

Kelly, who made three appearances for the Eagles in 2006, takes over from Scott Lawrence, who guided the Junior All-Americans to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy title on home soil earlier in the year.

“I am looking forward to getting into the field and finding the players who will compete in the 2013 Junior World Championship,” said Kelly, who will be joined by former Eagles manager Rob Holder as team manager.

“With limited time to prepare as a team, we will have a tough challenge with South Africa, France and England, but we look forward to the chance to remain in the top tier of Junior World Rugby.”

The Junior All-Americans, as the USA Under 20 side is also known, played in the inaugural Junior World Championship in 2008 but were relegated to the Trophy after finishing 16th.

They reached the Trophy final in 2009 but lost to Romania and had to wait until their title success in Salt Lake City in June to secure a return to the premier age-grade tournament in France next year.

“Lawrence will surely be missed,” said USA Rugby High Performance Player Development Manager Luke Gross.  “During his two-year stint he led the team to win the Junior World Rugby Trophy and developed some great young athletes.

“Both of these guys bring a lot of experience with them. Jason is the type of player-centred coach we need to continue developing the quality of play for the All-Americans, and Rob has extensive experience with rugby at every level.”

The Junior All-Americans will begin their preparations with two regional camps in January in California and Florida, followed by two matches against Canada – who will play in JWRT 2013 in Chile – in May and a final camp before they head to France.