A 2009 High School All-American is trying out for one of Argentina's A teams, los Pampas.
The bid is highly unusual in that 20-year-old inside back Matias Cima has played virtually all of his rugby in the United States. The son of a diplomat who's been in America for 13 years, Cima is a product of Washington DC's Gonzaga College High School and the University of Maryland.
The United States has a reputation for fast-tracking foreign-born and -trained players into its national teams, the latest example being Luke Hume, whose Australian citizenship does not meet US Olympic Committee eligibility standards, but who nonetheless won 1 of USARFU's 16 Olympic Training Center contracts for 2013. Cima's trial suggests that American schools are now capable of producing international-caliber players -- measured according to standards higher than ours -- from scratch.
Whatever the youngster's odds of selection, the presence of a 'Yanqui' in the Argentine camp has caused a minor sensation. Some 30 of the 40 trialists will go on to compete in the South Africa's Vodacom Cup. It's therefore a real possibility Cima could be 'captured' for Argentina, and so unable to play for the Eagles. Once an athlete has played for a national team or its next-highest side, he is ineligible to play for another country.
The 2011 Atlantic Coast Rugby Conference co-MVP, the 6'1", 205-pound Cima is normally a flyhalf, but is being evaluated at inside center, a common way to groom young pivots. He was on 2012's preliminary roster for the USA Under-20 team, but a hamstring injury cost him much of the season.
Prop Andrew Durutalo and center Blaine Scully return to the international duty for this weekend's New Zealand 7s, replacing Nate Augspurger and Brett Thompson. Both USARFU-contracted players had been injured and missed the season-opening Dubai and South Africa tournaments.
Matt Hawkins takes over the captaincy in place of Shalom Suniula. The US has drawn England, Spain, and the hosts in pool play.
United States to New Zealand 7s
Andrew Durutalo, Nick Edwards, Jack Halalilo, Matt Hawkins (captain), Colin Hawley, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Blaine Scully, Shalom Suniula, Zach Test, Maka Unufe (all USARFU)