(IRVINE, California) May 23, 2019 – Rhinos Rugby Academy (RRA) and Elite Rugby Management (ERM), owner of the Austin Elite Rugby professional team, are taking youth rugby development to a new level through RRA’s investment in the Major League Rugby team ownership group.

The investment marks the beginning of a strong partnership between the Academy, a leader in Tier 1 youth rugby development in the USA, and one of the MLR founding groups, in a commitment to grow youth rugby in the USA through international quality of rugby training, facilities and competition, for boys and girls, men and women.

The Academy’s core focus is to provide players and parents a clear pathway from 6 years old to professional status, while supporting development through school, high-school, college, professional and national team. With two state-of-the-art facilities in Irvine and Sacramento, and a third to be built in Central Texas, experienced world-class staff for rugby, strength and conditioning and speed, academics staff and a solid backend infrastructure, the Academy has rapidly grown its presence from West Coast to East Coast.

This forward-thinking strategy by the ERM and RRA of providing Tier 1 rugby development and resources will have an immediate positive impact in the regional Texan communities, and will benefit the prospective fan base as well as the professional team.


The Academy started as a local club in Southern California in 2014, and quickly became very successful, with over 400 boys and girls players from U8 to U18, and 15+ Championship titles. The success was a testimony to the passion and personal financial investment of the founder, Derek Nellmapius, in state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, coaching, structure, and the unwavering support of the local families who believed in the potential value of rugby for their kids’ future.

Within two years, there was a huge gap between the Rhinos Club and many other local clubs who were struggling for players and resources. The lack of quality options for kids, as well as a strong desire to raise the US level of training and competition to a Tier 1 nation, drove the owners to transition into a national Academy, supporting local rugby clubs in their growth and working with the local state organizations (SROs) and other academies to provide player daily training resources, coaches and referee education, numerous camps year-round, and an academics program (homeschooling and after-school).

Understanding that there is no substitute for high-level competition in a true development pathway, the Academy has started to create opportunities for international Tier 1 level competition, reaching 4 international and 5 domestic tournaments in 2019, including the prestigious invite-only “World Schools Festival” South Africa, and the World Youth Rugby 7s and 15s in USA.

Together with ERM and MLR development academies, Rhinos Academy looks forward to an exciting future of bringing to youth rugby its tried-and-true package of world-class facilities and coaches, daily training and tracking, international competition and the discipline and structure that long-term successful youth development requires.



Rhinos Rugby Academy is a world-class rugby training and competition program for youth U8 to U20 boys and girls. The Academy has two state-of-the-art facilities, in Irvine and in Sacramento, as well as training programs in Arizona and expanding.

Facebook: @RhinosRugbyAcademy
Twitter: @Rhinos_Rugby
Instagram: @RhinosRugbyAcademy
YouTube: Rhinos Rugby Academy

Austin Elite Rugby

Austin Elite Rugby is a Professional Rugby team based in Austin and Round Rock, Texas, and we are excited to bring Professional Rugby to Central Texas. As a founding member of Major League Rugby, Austin Elite Rugby embodies the sport’s inclusive ethos. Developing players from youth to professional is at the heart of Austin Elite Rugby, creating a world-class experience for players and fans to enjoy the game.

Facebook: @austineliterugby
Twitter: @Austin_E_Rugby
Instagram: @austineliterugby
YouTube: Austin Elite Rugby