We caught up with team manager John Davenport and coach Jody Hensley to talk about the match and the recent selection camp held in Georgia.
This Is American Rugby: How many players were invited to try out for the team? Was it mostly club players, college players, or a mix?
John Davenport: It was open to all players in the former South TU's as True South and Carolinas GU's opted to stay with us for select sides. It was on their coaches recommendation. 111 turned out (we prepared for 60!).
Jody Hensley: The player mix was spilt close to even between club and college players.
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TIAR: Were you pleased with the overall level at the tryout?
JH: The overall level was very good. We feel like we have a solid team selected to face Mexico and have solid players in the pool for future call ups. There were some really good players that we had to release because the talent was so deep, especially at scrum half where we had 12 players looking to fill the position.
JD: There were a few out of their depth but the overall quality of player was outstanding and our best yet. All were hugely committed to the oportunity to play for their country.
TIAR: Which players stood out to you and why?
JH: For me in the backs, newcomer to the squad Lucas Baistrocchi, Flyhalf, Univ. of Florida, will be a great addition to the squad. He will work alongside Jeff Reuther, Inside Center, New Orleans, who was our flyhalf last year. These 2 worked really well together in the scrimmage game.
TIAR: You'll be playing Mexico. Please explain further why U.S.A. South is playing this match and what could potentially result from it?
JD: The South is representing the USA at the NACRA Championships for the second year in a row. We are grouped with Mexico, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda in the Northern Group. We are seeded 7th so we play second seed Mexico in a knock-out match. If we beat Mexico awe go to play the winner of the Jamaica-Turks and Caicos match. Win that and we go to Bahamas. Win that and we host Cayman. Win that and we play Bermuda ( champs) for the Northern title. Win that and we play the winner of South Caribbean for the championship.
TIAR: Do you think getting involved in regional competitions is something that other regions should try?
JD: Competition is always good because it gets players out of the comfort zone. We were honored to be asked by USAR to represent the country.
TIAR: How many people are you expecting out at the match and how can fans get tickets.
JD: Always difficult to tell. We have publicised it through the Mexican business groups ,the Consulate and every net work we can. 2/3000 woould be awesome. (TIAR NOTE: Everyone in the area should go out and support the match. This is the kind of event we need to turn out to watch.)
U.S.A. South team to play Mexico:
Starters: Scott Lucas (Athens), Drew Ohmann (Life), Matt Wade (Renegades), Saadiq Ziyad (Life), Stephen Hickey (Augusta), Cathal Doyle (Life), Derek Wolfe (Nashville), Kirk Swanner (Tallahassee), JD Price (Renegades), Lucas Baistrocchi (UF), Clint Whitler (Life), Jeff Reuther (New Orleans), Amir Khan (UNC), Ben Winiarczyk (Auburn), Aaron Masterson (Life)
Bench: Saade Bou-Mikael (New Orleans), Davis Bess (Montgomery), Zach Simkins (Life), Quincy Nuckols (Renegades), Joe Moore (Renegades), Davis Meehan (Boca Raton), Jason Davila (Life)
Attending: Ty Elkins (Charlotte), Rodrigues Ceasar (Renegades), Demecus Beach (Life)