Major League Rugby and USA Rugby collaborate to launch Hawks program, a centralized squad developed to elevate USA qualified players

Major League Rugby (MLR) and USA Rugby today announced the assembly of the Hawks, a Men’s XVs developmental squad set to compete in eight exhibition matches starting March 4, 2023, against Super Rugby Americas clubs and other international development sides.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Hawks are a co-initiative of World Rugby, USA Rugby and MLR. Going forward into an extended Rugby World Cup cycle, the Hawks will provide a residential full-time competition environment for up-and-coming domestic talent and future USA Men’s Eagles prospects.

With goals aligned from both USA Rugby and MLR, the Hawks program is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the professional league and governing body to improve player pathways and create more high-quality playing opportunities for USA qualified players.

USA Rugby General Manager of Men’s High Performance, Scott Lawrence noted, “It is vital that opportunities are afforded to American players to earn meaningful minutes. The Hawks program will provide exactly what these young players need, development through tough international games and the cycle of retrospection and improvement that goes with it. A strong relationship with MLR is growing and with the goal of this focused effort meant to provide MLR General Managers and Coaches more American player options, we can continue to offer each other the mutual value that is at the core of any good partnership.”

"Robust domestic pathways are a critical building block for our national teams and Major League Rugby alike. This program is an important first step in an aligned effort to create more growth opportunities for emerging domestic athletes who will be the backbone of future USA Eagles and MLR squads,” said Nic Benson, MLR CEO, “Collaboration between the league and national unions is critical for the growth of our sport, this initiative will set the stage for what we hope will be a broader alignment for the decade ahead."

Once available, the official home venue and match schedule with ticketing information will be available on the USA Rugby website. Match live streams will be promoted if available, with starting rosters and score updates posted to USA Rugby social media channels.

Led by USA Rugby Men’s Pathways Director, Brendan Keane, who will serve as Head Coach for the Hawks, the squad will relocate 28 highly touted players to train and compete in a daily high performance environment. Each squad member was selected through the USA Rugby Pathways network, identified through combines, Junior National Team competitions, and Talent ID Camps. In addition, many of those selected came with high recommendations from Major League Rugby General Managers.

USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young said, “The Hawks are a partnership USA Rugby is excited to enter with MLR, as we begin to redefine the high performance pathway. A centralized program of this nature is a prime example of collaborative player development, raising the bar for both the domestic game and ultimately the USA Eagles on the international stage.”

HAWKS 2023 MATCH SCHEDULE
Date Match Up Location
4-Mar-23 vs Selknam Santiago, CHI
10-Mar-23 vs Pampas Buenos Aires, ARG
15-Mar-23 vs Arg Desarrollo Buenos Aires, ARG
6-Apr-23 vs Cobras Brasil XV Charlotte, NC
15-Apr-23 vs Argentina U20 Charlotte, NC
21-Apr-23 vs Argentina U20 Charlotte, NC
29-Apr-23 vs Yacare Charlotte, NC

HAWKS 2023 ROSTER
Name Primary Position Club USA Rugby Pathways
Trenton Rogers Prop NOLA Gold U23s, U20s, U18s
Maxime Wilson Lock HTX Academy USA Rugby Academy, U23s
Kyle Fulton Wing Dallas Jackals U23s
Tristan Cole Hooker Young Glory U23
William Whiteside Lock Rugby New York Ironworkers U23s
Hunter Blanchard Prop Houston SaberCats
Doyle Hedgepeth Prop Rugby New York Ironworkers USA Rugby Academy
Coleson Warner Flyhalf Utah Warriors U23 7s
Trace Bolstad Flyhalf Houston SaberCats
Matthew Gelhaus Lock Rugby ATL U20, U23, USA Rugby Academy
Evan Conlon Scrumhalf Rugby ATL U23s, U18s
Isaac Bales Hooker Rugby ATL
Manu Faoagali Hooker Unattached
Oliver Kane Prop San Diego Legion USA Academy 2022
Ivan Pula Prop New England Free Jacks USA Falcons
Marnus Spangenberg Flanker Houston SaberCats
Aminae Amiatu No. 8 San Diego Legion U18s, USA Rugby Academy
Isaiah Caver Lock Utah Warriors Selects USA Rugby Academy
Shane Fata Center New England Free Jacks U20s
D'Montae Noble Wing Old Glory DC USA Men’s Sevens, U23 7s
Elijah Hayes Prop Utah Warriors USA Rugby Academy, USA Falcons
Jason Tidwell Center Dallas Jackals
Kekoa Kauwe Scrumhalf Utah Warriors
Lucas Gramlick Lock American Raptors USA Rugby Academy
Christian Olney Wing NOLA Gold
Chase Suznevich Flyhalf Charlotte Rugby Club
Aidan Christians Flanker USA Men's U20s
Ethan Fryer Flanker New England Free Jacks

HAWKS 2023 COACHING STAFF

Head Coach: Brendan Keane

Assistant Coach: Neethling Gericke

Assistant Coach : Elvis Seveali’i

Strength & Conditioning: Alex Ross

Analyst: Jimmy Harrison

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