San Diego, CA (May 22, 2006) –Scott LaValla and Taylor Mokate are the most recent United States Rugby Foundation’s Academy Grant recipients. The announcement was made by USRF Executive Director Brian Vizard at the conclusion of this past weekend’s US Rugby National High School Championships at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
LaValla, a 6’4″, 230 lb. high school junior, plays at lock or in the backrow for his club, the Budd Bay Rugby Club of Olympia, WA. Mokate is an 18 year old high school senior who, at 6’3″, 225 lb, has also been spending time in both the backrow and lock positions. He plays for the Dallas Harlequins Colts and will be attending the University of Oklahoma in the fall.
“The Foundation is once again pleased to award these grants to two of the country’s up and coming players,” said USRF Executive Director Brian Vizard. “Having seen first hand the quality of the facilities and instruction at IRANZ, I can guarantee that these two young men will be enriched by the experienced. Not only will they improve as individuals but will be able to bring back those things they learned to their clubs and teammates.”
“We are delighted to have two American players enrolled by the US Rugby Foundation on this course,” said IRANZ Director and former All Blacks great, Murray Mexted. “The cosmopolitan factor adds a real competitive edge with players from the UK, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Italy, and of course New Zealanders. The thing I have noticed most about American participants over the last 5 years is their lack of nuance for the game in comparison to players from traditional rugby countries who start at 5 and 6 years of age. Being just 17 and 18 years of age will give these young men an opportunity to grow rapidly in this department and also understanding the expectations and opportunities of the role they are most suited to. We look forward to Scott and Taylor joining us at the International Rugby Academy.”
Both recipients will spend a week at the IRANZ, eating, sleeping and drinking rugby. And both players are looking forward to the opportunity.
“Receiving this grant is a tremendous honor,” said LaValla. “To be recognized for achievement from this group of athletes makes me feel truly blessed. I have been coached and supported by an outstanding group of people and I would like to thank my coach and in a lot of ways, my mentor, Pete Sullivan. This man is the reason I have learned this sport to the degree that I have. He deserves much of the credit for my development.”
“I have been in a state of shock ever since I received this honor,” said Mokate. “I actually spent the flight back to Dallas repeating it over in my head and re-playing the event, which has developed into a determined outlook to make myself a better and more fit player.”
The USRF would like to thank its IRANZ Grant partners as once again Air New Zealand will be handling the international travel from Los Angeles to New Zealand while TravelCorp will provide travel within the US.
The USRF is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization established in 1963. Although its main focus is supporting youth and high school rugby, the Foundation also provides grants to coaches and referees; establishes international student exchanges and college scholarships, has assisted the United States Collegiate All-Americans and Boys Under-19 teams, and also provides grants to Safety and Risk Management Research.
For more information about the Foundation, go to its website at: www.usrugbyfoundation.org.