Tag: 7s rugby

Stephanie Brown, Florida Rugby High Performance Women's Rugby Chosen for USA Olympic TrainingTryout Camp - Road to Rio

Stephanie Browne Invited to USA Olympic Training\Tryout Camp

It is with great enthusiasm the Florida Rugby Union and 7’s High Performance Program wish Stephanie Browne the best of luck on her invitation to the Rugby Women’s 7s Academy Camp June 15-June 19 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

The 2016 USA Women’s Olympic team will be chosen from this camp and we look forward to Stephanie performing like she did in Las Vegas Invitations against France & Japan.  Those efforts earned her this opportunity and the FRU HPP program will continue to provide venues like this for our Florida rugby athletes to showcase their abilities.

Stephanie Brown, Florida Rugby High Performance Women's Rugby Chosen for USA Olympic TrainingTryout Camp - Road to Rio
Good Luck Stephanie!
Steve Braunstein
Director of Florida 7’s
Assistant Coach of HPP


Bay Area Pelicans is hosting Gulf Coast 7s May 21st, 2016 at the Lakewood Sports Complex, 2001 Country Club Way S., St. Petersburg, FL 33712.

Includes: Men’s, Women’s and U19 Open Division.
Registration deadline May 19th. Click here for details on how to register.


Fee for Men’s team $200
Fee for Women’s team $150
Fee for U19’s $10

St Pete 7s

Tournament Location – http://stpeteparksrec.org/lakewood-soccer.html

Post Tournament Social – www.undertowbeachbar.com
Any Questions contact Mark Bongo- Rugbybongo@gmail.com

Florida Rugby Union Announces Las Vegas Invitational Selections

Article by Stephen Sheehan, FRU PR and Content Manager

On the men’s side, the battle for the 12 exclusive spots came down to the wire, but head coach Ronnie Suarez is confident that this year’s team has what it takes to make a significant splash in Vegas. With players from both the college and men’s ranks, it’s clear the overall talent level across the state has improved dramatically from just a year ago.

Representing FRU in Las Vegas will be:

  • Joe DiGregorio – Brevard 
  • Damian Clemente – Miami RFC
  • Jeffrey Herron – Tampa Krewe
  • Jonathan Halter – Gainesville  
  • Adrian Salazar – Miami RFC
  • Mateo Velazquez – Florida International University (FIU)
  • Alex Vinkavich – Miami Tridents
  • Jude Kermundu – Naples 
  • Nick Daniel – Florida International University (FIU)
  • Hank May – Gainesville
  • Tyler Piggot – Naples  
  • Matthew Coore – Indian River

In addition, the six non-traveling reserves for the men’s side include:

  • Isaac Leite – University of Florida (UF)
  • Adrian White – Fort Lauderdale 
  • Paul Diaz – Orlando 
  • Dewayne Parks Jr. – Brevard  
  • Julius Fletcher – Treasure Coast 
  • Barrington McNutt – Florida International University (FIU)

The FRU is also pleased to announce the women’s side that looks to shock a stacked pool of international sides in Vegas. Representing Florida for the women are:

  • Leandria Ates – FIU Womens Rugby 
  • Ashley Bengston – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby
  • Stephanie Browne – Phoenix Rugby 7s
  • Cassidy Davis – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Jacqueline Edge – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Agnes Fuerst – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Vivian Junger Silveira – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby
  • Shannon Steele – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Corntey Kuehl – UCF Womens Rugby
  • Zoe Sanchez-O’Neill – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Jesenia Torres – Orlando Womens Rugby
  • Tatum Walker – Ft. Miami Womens Rugby

Jessica Warner of UCF and Lindsey Koren of UF Womens Rugby were selected to play but are unavailable due to injury.

Congratulations to all the players selected to represent Florida rugby at the LVI. We look forward to watching you put your talent on display at the top rugby sevens competition in the United States.

Ronnie Suarez: A Bright Coaching Star in the Sunshine State

By Stephen Sheehan, FRU PR and Content Manager

A great coach can turn an ordinary team into something special. And in the case of Ronnie Suarez, that’s exactly what he’s doing across the state of Florida.

Whether he is on the sidelines as the head coach of the Florida International University men’s rugby club or cultivating talent as the head coach of the Florida Rugby Union High Performance Sevens team, Suarez’s dedication and passion for the game has led to impressive results.

The well-traveled former Marine grew up around the game, as his aunt played for the Old Blue women’s team in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Suarez’s playing career included stops with North County Gurkhas and OMBAC, with his first official action coming in 1995 in Fremantle, Australia as a member of the Palmyra RFC. After moving to Miami in 1998, Suarez began playing for Miami RFC until he decided to make the natural transition from player to coach.

Ronnie Suarez in coach mode
A self-described technical thinker who hails from a family full of successful sports coaches, Suarez credits both his mother and his military experience as major influences on his approach to coaching the often-misunderstood game of rugby.

“The discipline and hard work ethic is definitely my mom’s doing,” he said. “She was a tough, single mother who raised her kids to be the same way. The Marine corps gave me my never say die, never less than 100 percent respect and honor attitude.”

Of course, coaching soccer or baseball is one thing, but coaching rugby is an entirely different animal. Luckily, Suarez has been able to pick the brains of some of the top coaches around the globe to help shape his philosophies.

“I went to New Zealand and spent 10 days with City RFC in Whangarei watching their coaches and how they taught the players more than they coached. It really changed my thought process on how to coach the game,” Suarez explained. “There are a lot of coaches that I look up to and have helped shape me as well like Pierre Villepreux and Mike Luke.”

Suarez also credits Boca RFC coach Frank Tito as a major influence and says he could not have done a lot without his mentor’s guidance.

As a man who wears many hats, Suarez is intimately familiar with the challenges of coaching for both FIU and the FRU High Performance Sevens team. Interestingly, the challenges differ quite a bit between the two programs.

“In my current setup as head coach of the FRU Sevens, my major challenge is getting coaches behind the program and encouraging their players to try it out,” Suarez said. “With FIU, changing the perception of rugby to administrators who have no idea about the sport is pretty hard. Our own president and athletic department didn’t know FIU Rugby existed.”

Despite the widespread challenges of culture, administration, attitudes toward the sport and financial support, Suarez continues to charge ahead and establish himself as one of the most successful and influential members of the Florida rugby community. He recently led FIU to an undefeated season that culminated in a thrilling victory at the SIRC Championship that may finally put FIU Rugby on the national radar.

“Ronnie is a competitive and laser-focused coach that has been able to assemble a great team by knowing his players’ strengths and weaknesses,” said FIU senior standout Jose Laphitzondo. “Under him, the team had the mission to make it to nationals. The team understood that under a common objective every tackle, sprint and burpee had a purpose so the team pushed each other towards that goal.”

Ronnie Suarez with the FIU Men’s team
However, it’s Suarez’s work with the FRU HP Sevens program that has a potentially more profound effect. With rugby sevens gaining popularity based on the success of the U.S. Eagles, there’s a great opportunity for the game to catch on and attract more attention from television networks and crossover athletes.

For Suarez, the FRU HP Sevens program is the perfect gateway for the state’s top rugby athletes to get a chance to represent their country on an international stage. One of Suarez’s goals is to get the Florida HP Sevens program recognized as an Olympic Development Academy, which would give every player in the state the opportunity to get a chance to be chosen for the USA Eagles Olympic Pathway.

“Growing our program now and getting it recognized is something we are in the process of doing, but participation numbers are what really make and break us, so getting those numbers up is key.”

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Ronnie Suarez advising Jacksonville Women’s player
Additionally, Suarez’s long list of goals includes gaining varsity status for both the men’s and women’s rugby teams at FIU as well as getting in the elite coaches group for sevens in the U.S.

As someone who never settles for less than perfection, Suarez certainly isn’t someone you want to bet against. No matter if he’s running an extra conditioning session with his FIU team or preparing to take on Mexico with the FRU HP Sevens squad, Suarez is a man whose intense preparation and selfless dedication will help grow the game of rugby not only in Florida but across the United States.

“If the clubs, officers and players of Florida ask themselves ‘How to help grow the game?’ and follow through with it, we will see Florida rugby rise to where it should have been a long time ago. But it starts with that question: How may we help grow the game?”

Ronnie Suarez with 2015 FRU HP Sevens Squad

Sunshine State Games 2014

In what’s become one of the more exciting 7s tournaments of the summer, the Sunshine State Games will kick off Saturday, June 7 at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. Teams from around the state, including Miami Rugby Football Club, University of South Florida, University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University will compete in a series of 7s matches.

Sarasota Rugby Club is hosting the 10-team event. There is a mandatory captains meeting at 10 a.m. with the first match kicking off at 10:30. All rosters must be turned into Tim Beury of Sarasota.

Ten teams will compete in the men’s open division. Each pool match consists of two seven-minute halves with one-minute halftimes. All championship matches feature two 10-minute halves with three-minute halftimes.

There’s hardware at stake, too. The tournament winner receives a team trophy and gold medals for each player on the 12-person squad. Silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the second and third place teams, respectively.

University of Florida is the defending champions and is coming off a fifth place finish at Todd Miller 7s a week ago. USF lost to Orlando in the final at Todd Miller 7s and is an early favorite to capture gold at the Sunshine State Games.

Come join us for an awesome day of rugby in a beautiful venue. For more information, please contact state director Martin Gardner at 954-292-2774, or event manager Michael Washington at 727-724-3082 ext. 241.



University of South Florida

University of Florida

Neptune Rugby

Miami Rugby Football Club

Epic Faile

Hammerhead Rugby

Tampa Krewe

Sarasota Rugby Club

St. Pete Pelicans

Event Location: 

Premier Sports Campus

5895 Post Boulevard

Lakewood Ranch, Florida 34211

Venue Directions:

Directions from I-75: Take exit 217 toward Bradenton/Arcadia. Head East on FL -70E/Oneco-Myakka City Rd. (4.8 miles). Turn left onto Post Blvd. and Premier Sports Campus will be on the right.

Todd Miller 7s Features Plenty of Collegiate Talent

UF captured the plate championship at Todd Miller 7s.
UF captured the plate championship at Todd Miller 7s.

An exciting summer season of 7s rugby kicked off last Saturday with Orlando capturing the championship at the Todd Miller 7s Benefit Tournament.

Fifteen teams competed in the men’s division, including the University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University. USF and UCF finished in second and third, respectively, demonstrating the wealth of talent in the collegiate ranks.

Speaking of collegiate rugby, UF finished fifth overall, capturing the Plate Championship.

For a club that’s made its mark in 7s over the past few years, including three Collegiate Rugby Championship appearances, this was a great beginning to a promising season.

Graduate student Matt McGee captained the UF squad, who outscored their opponents 120-31 in a dominant defensive effort. McGee was pleased with the team’s solid one-on-one tackling.

“If they came close to us, we brought them to the ground. We also did a pretty good job of pressuring them on offense and forced turnover ball,” said the fifth-year player.

The Gators allowed just five tries in the tournament and shut out Brevard in the Plate final.

Florida’s only loss came against a fit USF squad that won 12-0 and was the tournament runner-up.

“USF did a very nice job of playing traditional 7s rugby. They maintained possession for a while on offense and had no issue with going backwards while waiting for a break in our line,” McGee said. “They made solid tackles and just bided their time on defense until we finally ran out of players to offload to as we were being lazy with support.”

Though the Gators came up short in their quest for the Cup, the opportunity for younger players to get more experience was a point of emphasis for a squad that saw its top player, Lucas Baistrocchi, finish his career in the spring. Brennan Schneider led the Gators with six tries. Laurence Kidd finished second on the team with five while McGee added four. Caleb Gilmer scored three tries and made nine conversions.

“We hit gaps at pace and even had a few pick and goes for tries,” McGee said. “We were quite aggressive on offense because we broke tackle after tackle as we had such a large team.”

On the women’s side, the Orlando club also took home the championship, making it a clean sweep in both divisions in the hometown tournament. USF finished in third, giving the school two top-three finishes at Todd Miller 7s. Congratulations to all 20 clubs that participated and made Todd Miller 7s a fantastic tournament.

Final standings are available below.


1 Orlando (1)



4 Burn

5 UF

6 Brevard

7 St Pete

8 Orlando Iron Horse

9 Naples

10 FAU

11 Sarasota

12 Treasure Coast

13 Orlando (2)

14 Orlando (3)

15 Jacksonville



1. Orlando (1)

2. Sparkle

3. USF

4. Jacksonville

5. Orlando (2)