Olympic Development Academy


USA Rugby’s Olympic Development Academy (ODA) is a long-term, systemic approach to athlete development through a year-round training program. ODA’s goal is to narrow the gap between amateur domestic players and international sevens rugby by accelerating the development of athletes not in full-time residency at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

National Development Academies (NDA) are independently operated entities that collaborate with USA Rugby based on a set of key deliverables. It is an iterative pathway between the Eagles coaching staff and the NDAs to offer the athlete the best chance of growth and success over the course his development.


  • To train future Olympians
  • Identify Olympic athletes
  • Improve the level of club play


  • 9- to 10-month training
  • 2 Rest months
  • 200 Rugby sessions
  • 75 matches (7s) or Equivalent XVs
  • 50% Matches at Club+

To Date

  • 30+ Tours at Club+ Level
  • ~$1mm in developing athletes
  • Multiple Eagles
  • Increased parity in club game


The ODA is designed for up-and-coming male and female players who are not yet performing at the international level, but have demonstrated the potential to be; players who have played at an international level but are not in the USOC residency program; and men’s national team pool players who are aiming to evolve into the USOC residency program in the future.

It is designed for domestic-based club athletes, non-collegiate age-grade athletes, and collegiate athletes whose university programs are not yet fully delivering a high-performance rugby experience. Current national player pool university students are encouraged to have a formal connection with an NDA for out of season progression in conjunction with that athlete’s collegiate coaches.

NDA athletes do not have to play for the club affiliated with the NDA. They will however, need to train with the NDA on non-club training days to fulfill the standards of the NDA.

American ForkRugby UtahKimball Kjarkimball.kjar@rugbyutah.com
BostonNortheast – New EnglandJosh Smithsmithjosh2@gmail.com
ColumbusTigerPaul Holmespaul@tigerrugby.com
Little RockAmerican Rugby Pro Training Center (ARPTC)
National Development Academy
Julie McCoy
Director of Rugby, Former USA Rugby Women’s Team Head Coach
New York CityNortheast – EmpireSean Horanhoransean01@gmail.com
Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara Rugby AcademyDr. Marc Grandlesantabarbararugbyacademy@gmail.com
SeattleATAVUS AcademyEmilie Bydwellemilie.bydwell@atavus.com
Washington, DCScion Rugby AcademyJoanne Liujoanne@scionrugby.com


  • 10-month training commitment
  • 75 Sevens matches per year, per athlete (one XVs match counts as three VIIs matches)
  • Two by four-week recovery periods per year
  • Six by single-week recovery periods per year (at the end of each cycle)
  • At least three rugby specific training sessions per week, per athlete
  • Two to three strength, speed, and/or conditioning sessions per week
  • Minimum of 150 rugby specific training sessions per year, per athlete
  • One rest day minimum per week
  • Testing every cycle
  • Video of matches and training sessions
  • Strength Development: approved facility space; Olympic lifting instruction; Speed coaching
  • Medical:
    • Insurance coverage program
    • Trainer access for training/matches, rehab, treatment and recovery
    • Functional Screening; entry and exit physicals
  • Data entry into national system
  • Bi-monthly communication with Eagle’s Coaching Staff
  • Annual evaluation of program by national staff


Yearly Program

The calendar roughly parallels the national team schedule, with multiple periodization peaks throughout the year.

Each athlete should have two months free of rugby-specific training. These two months would include eight weeks on aggregate of active recovery entirely away from the rugby field. Typical NDA rugby-free windows would be the six weeks in between the Thanksgiving holiday and the beginning of the New Year, and / or the month of June. Each NDA and each athlete will have individual programs based on their domestic competitions.

In addition there should be an active-recovery week off period built into every five to six week training cycle throughout the year.

On the whole, the goal is 60 to 75 matches of seven-a-side rugby to be played by each athlete each year, with 50% of those matches played above the domestic club level. Those additional 50% can be from academy tournaments, international tours, and/or national camp scrimmages.


ODA athletes are expected to do rugby specific training three times per week, with at least one rest day each week for 10 months of the year. At least one of these rugby trainings needs to be 7s specific each week.

During the domestic club 15s season, two of these sessions can be with the athlete’s local 15s club. They must get at least one 7s session in with the ODA each week during this time, even if the local 15s club trains three times per week.

NDAs will delivery 2 to 4 strength, speed, and / or conditioning sessions per week in addition to the three rugby-specific sessions. Depending on what periodization phase, this could include 3 lifts, 2 speed sessions, 1 aerobic session; 4 lifts, 1 speed session, 1 anaerobic session; etc.


ODA Tournaments

ODAs to compete in three to five tournaments a year with each other.

To date, this would include USA Rugby Elite City 7s, the Serevi Rugbytown 7s, the World Club 7s events, the Las Vegas Invitational, and an international tour of the NDAs choosing.


OPAs will test each athlete every five to eight week training cycle in the following:

  • Aerobic : 1K and / or Yo-Yo Intermittent Level I
  • Anaerobic: 150 meter shuttle
  • Explosiveness: Vertical Jump
  • Speed: 10 meter and 40 meter sprints
  • Strength: back squat to parallel; bench press; max weighted pull-ups; bent-over row.
  • Agility: Pro-agility

These evaluations are subject to change. In the medium-term, skill based evaluations will also most likely be a part of the testing protocol.


NDAs and/or individual players will need to be in good standing with USA Rugby. Costs incurred for participation in NDA training and tournaments are delivered by the NDA and/or the player. USA Rugby will only cover costs once an athlete assembles with the national team.


NDAs are independently operated entities. Permission to use the USA Rugby logo and name needs to be approved in advance by USA Rugby’s communication department. OPAs are not allowed to use the USOC logo or affiliated trademarks.


Player Development Advantages

  • Better and more effective training
  • More Seven-a-side matches per year
  • Top Instruction
  • Players receive integrated oversight from Academy coaches and the Men’s Eagles Coaching Staff in their local environment.
  • A clear pathway to international rugby
  • Players compete on a more regular basis against current national team players
  • Regular Game and Training Evaluations by Men’s Eagles Coaching Staff

ODA Advantages

  • Access to the latest coaching intellectual property
  • A national presence to sell to local supporters, contributors and sponsors
  • An elite environment to build grassroots clinics and camps for all-ages
  • Increased number of elite athletes in the local club scene