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Pathways to Excellence Fund Sends Promising U.S. Players Andrew Alves and Miles McCormick to Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

June 22, 2022

Through its Pathways to Excellence Fund, the US Rugby Foundation will be sending promising players Miles McCormick and Andrew Alves to the world-renowned Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in Stellenbosch, South Africa for the next three months.“

This experience for Miles and Andrew, to go to a full time training environment, is very unique and a special opportunity. To be able to go to Stellenbosch and put into a training, nutrition and full time S&C environment, that is totally bespoke for Rugby, is what is needed to fast track them as not only better versions of themselves on and off the pitch, but to also fast track them to the National Team. This opportunity will put three years of development into three months.

With the RWC having been acquired in the future, it’s imperative and a priority that we invest in our pathways to ensure success at the RWC on home soil. Very much thanks to United States Rugby Foundation for making this opportunity a reality and continuing to support American Rugby as a whole,” said US Men’s National Team Head Coach, Gary Gold.

McCormick, a past Foundation grant recipient, is a former USA Rugby U20s Captain, two-time High School All-American, was the Cathedral Catholic Male Athlete of the Year, and is currently enrolled at St. Mary’s College. He took some time away from rugby to pursue football. Miles is a natural leader and projects as a backrow player through his physical play. The defensive nature of the modern game suits his style of play and with current backrow Eagles in the same vein.“

I am truly grateful to be receiving the Pathways to Excellence Grant. As a young player that aspires to represent this country in the future, the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the heartland of South African rugby is an invaluable experience” says McCormick. “This amazing opportunity is one that I will cherish for a lifetime. I am extremely thankful to the US Rugby Foundation for creating this program so I can continue to learn more about the sport I love.”

Alves played high school rugby up until his senior year when he had to stand down due to football. Andrew received many scholarship offers from institutions that included West Point, US Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy, but Andrew chose San Diego State University. Andrew projects as a midfield player through his elite athleticism on both sides of the ball. His size and athleticism are world class, with very good footwork and the ability to attack and defend space, even with a limited rugby background.

“The word that comes to mind when I think of how lucky I am to be receiving the Pathways to Excellence Grant is honored. As I begin my journey back into my first love, the sport of rugby, I cannot think of a better opportunity for accelerated and sustainable growth in the sport. Learning from veteran and accomplished personnel in South Africa is an invaluable juncture for me. I cannot wait to work and learn under great minds and come back to the States ready to take USA Rugby to the next level. I am eternally grateful to the Foundation and all those involved, including Bob, Ed, and J.D.”

“It is really exciting times ahead for Andrew and Miles as they immerse themselves into the world of South African rugby in Stellenbosch in these coming months,” said US Rugby Men’s 7’s Head Coach, Mike Friday. “Having had Andrew with us in preparation for a couple of weeks, he has the character and work ethic to learn so much on and off the pitch on what it takes to be a successful rugby player, physically, technically, and tactically. They will both also understand the mentality required to be successful in the game. Furthermore, the life experiences of integrating into another country’s culture and having to adapt and adjust will no doubt afford them the opportunity to develop as young men.

Thank you to the US Rugby Foundation for supporting and providing these young rugby players with this exciting opportunity.”Pathways to Excellence Chair and past U.S. Eagles captain, Ed Burlingham, stated, “Miles and Andrew are two outstanding young men that will help fulfill the US Rugby Foundation Pathways mission to support the National Teams.

By identifying unique athletes and providing them with the opportunity to be fully immersed in a truly first class rugby development program for three months, we will see incredible growth in who they are and how they play the game. We are confident that Miles and Andrew will be impact players for the Eagles in the future.”

Stay tuned for more updates and photos from Miles and Andrew’s Stellenbosch experience.

Learn More About Pathways to Excellence Grant Program