Falcons Coaches Reflect on 2019 LVI and Program Building Blocks


This past weekend, the USA Rugby Men’s and Women’s Falcons took to the pitch at the 2019 Las Vegas Invitational – which is considered the largest amateur rugby tournament in North America. In a stretch that was nothing short of dominant, each team walked away with titles: Men’s Elite Sevens Division Champions and Women’s Elite Sevens Division Champions. While both coaches are proud of the teams’ accomplishments, they also identify the need to expand the Eagles Sevens developmental program even further.

“It was great to see the progression over the weekend for the Falcons group. The improved performances over the two days were most pleasing along with getting to see some individuals perform in the Falcons jersey for the first time” said Matt Long, Women’s Falcons Coach.

Long gives much of the credit to the players for the success over the weekend, “Credit goes to the group for coming together and adapting with new players, new combinations and various levels of experience with limited preparation as a Falcons squad” said Long.

Each team took to the big stage of Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday afternoon where the Men’s Falcons defeated URU7s in the final, and the Women’s Falcons followed suit against Scion to each earn a championship title.

The Falcons serve as a support to the Senior Women’s and Men’s Eagles Sevens by building depth in the player pools for both programs and exposing new waves of athletes to international competition.

“Our sevens pathway is a work in progress” said JD Stephenson, Men’s Falcons Coach, “But we hope that with our identification practices in place, age grade national team programs and our relationships within the community will allow those that have the ability or promise to be given an opportunity to make the Falcons” Stephenson said.

“The Falcons are attainable for anyone willing to put their hand up and do the right things on and off the pitch” Stephenson added. While there is never a more valid statement, there still exists limitations to the program that act as a barrier for aspiring athletes with hopes to take part.

“While we know how important the development of the pipeline is, financial constraints make having several Falcons events per year challenging” Long emphasized.

“At this point, we don’t have another Falcons tournament formally scheduled but are looking for opportunities and philanthropic support to allow more of these events to take place” Long explained. “The ability to make these competitions happen is ultimately what creates the opportunity to strengthen our pool” he continued.

Thanks to the generosity of current supporters of the Men’s and Women’s Falcons, the teams were able to partake at the 2019 Las Vegas Invitational and other touch points throughout the year.

“We wouldn’t have a program without the generosity provided by the Golden Eagles and other donors. For that, I’d like to thank every one of them” Stephenson said.

However, the need for competition and training opportunities remains. Competition time for the Falcons help streamline the transition of new players to the senior programs – making it a vital part of the Eagles Sevens pathway.

You can have an impact on this crucial element of the Sevens pathway by making a gift to the Falcons program today. An investment in the Falcons is an investment in the next generation of Eagles.