March 1, 2016
Eagles Sevens Squad For USA Sevens
Mike Friday, USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach has selected his squad for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series -HSBC USA Sevens.
Both Garrett Bender and Maka Unufe, who played in the first two legs of the Series are back. Bender has recovered from an injury, while Unufe was not available for legs three and four.
Injuries have taken its toll for several players and other players have opportunities to be selected after High Performance Camps. It is hoped that Nic Edwards, Kevin Swiryn, and Brett Thompson recover as quickly as possible.
Ben Pinkelman, from Colorado State University, has been one of the players to step up and has been selected for his three consecutive Series leg. Martin Iosefo also joined the team in Sydney and is an attacking threat.
Mike Friday reflected on the Series and said “some of the decisions we’ve made previously have had to do with player management as well as also allowing, providing, and getting players exposure and game time. Like we’ve said throughout the whole of this season – and that will continue onto Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Singapore – that this Series is about ensuring we get as many of the players up to standard and in the position to compete for the Rio final 12.”
“Having the centers of Martin and Maka allows us to play differently, adds variety to our attack, and it also provides and allows space for the wingers on the outside. It’s interesting that the Vegas pitch is evolving again. Suddenly this pitch is becoming more attractive to us as a rugby sevens team. It’s more of a track that we can operate on as a team more attractively and more efficiently.”
Sam Boyd Stadium underwent renovations since last year’s tournament to widen the rugby pitch. The USA Sevens has had so much success in Las Vegas with crowds growing every year. The expansion of the field was a decision meant to keep this event in Las Vegas.That should also help speedsters Perry Baker and Carlin Isles find more space to attack the opposition.
Madison Hughes has will captain the team in Las Vegas as he has over the last two seasons.
The Eagles Sevens are in a pool with Wales, Canada and South Africa. The Eagles are currently in 7th place in the World Rugby Sevens Series rankings, while Wales is 13th, Canada 12th and South Africa 2nd.
This is the second consecutive year that the Eagles will face South Africa in pool play. The Blitzbokke, like Australia and New Zealand, have brought in World Class 15s players to the sevens team. South Africa winger Bryan Habana and Australia’s Quade Cooper are new additions to their teams. New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams has already seen action in the previous two legs. These Rugby World Cup veterans have Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games ambitions.
Chris Wyles of the United States also has these aspirations and is expected to join the team for training after the Saracens season ends and after the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series ends. He did this last year and was part of the Eagles Sevens Squad when they qualified for Rio last June.
On Friday the Eagles will play both Wales and Canada in pool play, while on Saturday the Eagles will finish pool play against South Africa before they learn and play their quarterfinal opponent.
Mike Friday indicated the importance of playing at the USA Sevens in saying that “playing at home is a very special thing. You get to put the jersey on on your own land and represent in front of the people you’re representing, and in front of the masses and all of their families that are not often able to watch as them as they travel around the world.”
Upon the conclusion of the USA Sevens on Sunday, the Series teams will travel to Vancouver the following weekend for the sixth leg of the season. This will take place at BC Place Stadium.
Ahead of the USA Sevens and the Las Vegas Invitational the USA Eagles 7s had a high performance camp to select both the Eagles 7s squad and the USA Falcons team for Las Vegas. Click on Eagles 7s Camp Now – Vegas Next. The USA Falcons team to be coached by Paul Holmes and Nese Malifa and the squad will be named for the Las Vegas Invitational shortly. The USA Falcons will compete in the Americas Cup Men’s Elite division with Tumatauenga (New Zealand), Florida, and France Development in their pool.
Men’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens
1. Carlin Isles 2. Ben Pinkelman 3. Danny Barrett 4. Garrett Bender 5. Zack Test 6. Will Holder 7. Folau Niua 8. Maka Unufe 9. Nate Augspurger 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo
Men’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens
v. Wales – Friday, March 4 @ 4:57 p.m. PT
v. Canada – Friday, March 4 @ 7:36 p.m. PT
v. South Africa – Saturday, March 5 @ 2:35 p.m. PT