Jan. 7, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Tyler Plantz, a five-year member of the University of Notre Dame rugby squad and a three-year member of the Irish football team, Saturday heads to Chula Vista, Calif., and the United States Olympic Training Center for the first National Team Olympic Recruitment Camp sponsored by USA Rugby.
Two parallel combines will be held at the training site of the men's and women's Eagles Sevens teams. Both teams are currently in the midst of qualification seasons for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Coaches from both national teams will be on site to gauge the athleticism and abilities of rugby hopefuls, who must be 18 years of age or older to apply for the camp.
Plantz, who graduated from Notre Dame in May 2014 with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business, has competed with the Irish rugby squad for five seasons, including in three of the last four years in which Notre Dame has participated in the Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC) Sevens event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In each of the last three years, Plantz has combined his spring football work with rugby participation.
A Frankfort, Illinois, product, the 5-8 ½, 219-pound Plantz played in six Notre Dame football games in 2012 as a special-teams contributor in a year in which the Irish finished the regular season 12-0 and played in the national championship game. He played in one football game in 2013 and then in 2014 was selected as the Notre Dame Scout Team Player of the year on offense. Originally a walk-on, he was awarded a football scholarship prior to the 2014 season.
Plantz's younger brother, Zac, is also a member of the Notre Dame rugby squad. Their father Ron was a three-year letter-winner as an offensive lineman in football at Notre Dame in 1982-85 and the Irish starting center as a senior in 1985.
James Aldridge, a Notre Dame football running back in 2006-07, also has been a candidate for various past USA Rugby teams.
With U.S. national team players in professional leagues such as the National Rugby Championship in Australia, Aviva Premiership in England, Top 14 in France, Top League in Japan, and others, USA Rugby seeks to build its player pool for the Rugby World Cup while simultaneously offering outstanding athletes the opportunity to pursue professional contracts, whether that is at the Olympic Training Center or abroad.
Green Bay Packers all-time leading rusher Ahman Green will be one of the National Football League's representatives at the OTC, vying for a spot on the first Rugby Sevens Olympic team. Green attended a men's Eagles Sevens training session earlier this year before assisting in the creation of the Green Bay Ball Strikers Rugby Club in Wisconsin.
Multiple crossover athletes currently suit up for both sevens teams, including former college football player and track and field sprinter Carlin Isles who now plays for the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland's Guinness Pro12. Jessica Javelet, who played field hockey at the University of Louisville before joining Ric Suggitt's women's Eagles Sevens, scored seven tries in six matches at Atlanta 7s in 2014. Suggitt also brought into the player pool a dual-sport athlete in ice hockey and soccer, Alev Kelter from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with collegiate basketball players Lorrie Clifford and Melissa Fowler and Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers.
While top-end physical attributes are essential to a rugby player's success on the professional and international stages, an athlete's ability to play and learn a multi-dimensional, decision-making sport will be put to the test at the recruitment camp. Successful completion of a preliminary online rugby law exam before the camp will be the first evaluation of an athlete's ability to learn and apply him/herself to be a student of the game. At the end of the camp, athletes will find their place on the USA Rugby High Performance Pathway, be it at the Olympic Training Center, a National Development Academy, an AIG All-American team, or a club in the United States or abroad.