USA Rugby announced an exciting development for rugby in the country with the inception of full time contracts for 23 Sevens athletes in 2012.
Starting in January 2012, a partnership between the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Rugby will allow 23 Sevens athletes to receive full time training contracts at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Chula Vista, California.
Fifteen men and eight women will receive contracts, which will provide monthly stipends, meals, world class training facilities and high performance support services at the OTC, marking a crucial step on rugby's journey to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The news comes as both the US men's and women's teams prepare to compete in Dubai, the venue for the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series and for the first IRB-sanctioned women's Sevens event.
"As we prepare as a nation for Rio 2016 making our men's and women's Sevens teams full time is a crucial step for our sport," said USA Rugby CEO, Nigel Melville.
"There are so many advantages to living and training in a high performance environment year round - fulltime coaches, trainers, dieticians, sports psychologists, and so on. It really is necessary if the USA are to be on the rugby podium in 2016."
The athletes will live off-site but nearby the OTC with full time access to training and recovery facilities, high-performance specialists and coaches.
"The USOC is a fantastic partner to have on our journey to 2016. They have been very supportive of our national teams and are also invested in developing American rugby athletes for 2016 and beyond," Melville added.
The sport of rugby has grown drastically in the United States over the last six years.
In 2005 USA Rugby had roughly 62,000 members and it recently tallied over 98,000. The inclusion of Sevens in the Olympics has provided momentum for the sport at all levels.
While the contracted players will enjoy the excellent OTC facilities all year round, high performance training opportunities will also be extended to USA Rugby's All-American athletes at the high school, Under 20 and college levels, an added benefit to rugby's new status with the USOC.
With thanks to the IRB