USA Rugby' Eagles XV will heading to the 2012 Americas Rugby Championship to be held in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on October 12th through 20th. The USA Selects consists of 25 domestic based players competing against Canada, Argentina and Uruguay. Mike Tolkin, USA Men’s National Team Head Coach said in a press release that he hand-picked this team.
“We picked the squad based on guys who were new to the Eagle squad or did not previously get as much playing time. The majority of these players showed well at the All-American camp, in club rugby and at other camps.”
Out of these select and elite players are Timothy Paulsen and Graham Harriman. Both play for the Chicago Griffins are are excited about their chance to be a part of this team. For both players it is their first time playing with the Eagles XV and Tolkin is positive going into their first match against Argentina this Friday. I was able to catch up with Paulsen and Harriman after a Griffins game before they took off for pregame training.
Timothy Paulsen has played with the Griffinis since 2007 after coming to the team from Lake Forrest College's RFC. He is 6'2", 285lbs and is originally from Des Plaines, IL. At just 27, Paulsen's play isn't exclusive to Illinois as he spent time in England playing and getting paid to play. He compared the difference of trying to balance life and rugby vs being paid to play
Here I train, go to work, practice, and try to keep a social life. It's hard to have time to really do anything else beside work and play rugby. When I played over seas, it's a lot less of trying to balance your schedule since you're there just to play.
Paulsen is excited about his chance to play with the Eagles since this has been one of his goals. He has plenty of year of play left ahead but told me that as far as rugby career goals, the Olympics in 2016 isn't on the top of his mind,
I am a prop and 7s rugby is not my game. So it's not my goal to make to Olympic team, but I would like more opportunities to get a chance to be paid to play rugby.
The second Griffin to be heading to Canada is Graham Harriman. Graham is a newer member to the Griffins and when I went to talk to him the first thing I said is "Wow, you're really tall!" The 25 year old, is 6'6" and is a solid 250 and is quite a force on the rugby pitch. Originally from Eden Prairie, MN Harriman came to Chicago for a chance to play with a super league team. He also agreed with Paulsen that between work and rugby it's hard to have time for much else. Harriman started playing rugby in college and not only loved the game but the community feel of the sport saying that
It's not like other sports as in it's very competitive but after the games you have a great social with the other team and you really get to know other people.
Like many players, Harriman is hoping that this experience opens up other doors for upper level play and being able to one day get paid to play the game whether it is here or over seas. Harriman said that the Griffins was the right team for him being a team that has seen their share of players go on to play with USA Rugby, play overseas and to have players come in from other countries to play with them as well. He is excited to be able to travel with the team and is ready for this next level of play for himself.
Best of luck to Timothy Paulsen and Graham Harriman on their first time playing with USA Rugby. Out of 25 players on this tour they should get plenty of playing time and will not only to the Eagles well but represent Chicago's strenghts as well! Graham will be starting at the #5 position, and Tim will be wearing #18 as a reserve in the first game of these matches.