Team USA Men’s Rugby Olympic Medal Hopes Ends in Closing Seconds Against Fiji

August 10, 2016

Team USA Men’s Rugby Olympic Medal Hopes Ends in Closing Seconds Against Fiji


Photo: Team USA Men’s Rugby Sevens

Doug Coil

The Team USA Men’s Rugby Sevens entered the final match of Pool play knowing that either a win, draw, or a loss by 3 points or less would advance them to the quarterfinals.

The USA played like a team possessed the entire match, but came up a conversion shy of advancing.

Fiji kicked off to begin the match and Perry Baker fielded. The USA survived a holding penalty and then turned over the ball after a Fiji lineout. Folau Niua kicked for territory and Ben Pinkelman took the lineout. The ball went to Nate Ebner and then offloaded to Perry Baker who advanced the ball to Fiji’s 40 meter line. Another penalty by Fiji had Niua kicking to touch and Pinkelman taking the ball from the lineout. Barrett went into contact, but the referee missed his knee touching the pitch, so Fiji was able to steal a turnover.

The first try of the match went to the USA as a scrum was won and three phases later, Danny Barrett cut inside a defender for a try. Madison Hughes converted for a 7-0 lead.

Fiji countered right away after securing the restart, as Osea Kolinisou went in for a try and then made the conversion to even the score 7 all.

On the ensuing restart, Pinkelman was tackled while in the air and Kolinisou went to the bin. The USA elected to try to add points prior to halftime, but were not able to take advantage of Fiji playing a man down. Fiji, however managed to find an open man as Vatemo Ravouvou touched down in the corner for a 12-7 lead over the USA at halftime.

The second half found the USA seizing the early momentum as Ben Pinkelman created a turnover and the ball then went to Niua to Hughes to Pinkelman and finally to Perry Baker for a try. Hughes made the conversion and the USA regained the lead 14-12.

Fiji stormed right back and Josua Tuisova had a long run for a try to regain the lead. After Kolinsou’s conversion, the score was 19-14 to Fiji. Semi Kunitani then added a try for Fiji to increase their lead to 24-14.

A minute remained in the match, but Nate Ebner broke through the defense for a try to narrow the score to 24-19. A Madison Hughes conversion would bring the USA to within 3 points and advance them to the quarterfinals. It was a pressure packed kick from near touch, but the kick went wide.

Still seconds remained in the match. Fiji was able to advance the ball deep into USA territory, but the USA won a lineout, but lost a turnover at the breakdown to end the match 24-19 to Fiji.

With the 5 points loss, the USA quarterfinal and medal hopes ended. New Zealand secured the last spot in the quarterfinals and the USA must play Brazil in the place 9-12 match at 3pm ET today.

Pool Round 1

  • Australia 14-31 France
  • South Africa 24-0 Spain
  • Great Britain 31-7 Kenya
  • New Zealand 12-14 Japan
  • USA 14-17 Argentina
  • Fiji 40-12 Brazil

Pool Round 2

  • Australia 26-12 Spain
  • South Africa 26-0 France
  • Great Britain 21-19 Japan
  • New Zealand 28-5 Kenya
  • USA 26-0 Brazil
  • Fiji 21-14 Argentina

Pool Round 3

  • France 26-5 Spain
  • South Africa 5-12 Australia
  • Kenya 7-31 Japan
  • New Zealand 19-21 Great Britain
  • Argentina 31-0 Brazil
  • Fiji 24-19 USA

Pool Day 2 Results and Standings

Pool Day 1 Results and Standings

Place 9-12

  • USA v Brazil -3pm ET
  • Spain v Kenya – 3:30pm ET


  • Fiji v New Zealand – 4:00pm ET
  • Japan v France – 4:30pm ET
  • Great Britain v Argentina – 5:00pm ET
  • South Africa v Australia -5:30pm ET

Team USA Rugby Sevens Squad – Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games
1. Carlin Isles 2. Ben Pinkelman 3. Danny Barrett 4. Garrett Bender 5. Zack Test 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Maka Unufe 9. Chris Wyles 10. Madison Hughes 11. Perry Baker 12. Nate Ebner

USA Starters v Brazil: Baker, Barrett, Bender, Ebner, Hughes, Niua, Pinkelman

USA Substitutions: Isles, Test, Wyles, Durutalo

Team USA Rugby Sevens – Traveling Reserves
Nate Augspurger,  Martin Iosefo,  Shalom Suniula

Team USA Rugby Sevens Squad – Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games
v. Argentina –Recap L17-14
v. Brazil – Recap W26-0
v. Fiji – Recap L24-19

Preview article: Team USA Men’s Rugby Opens Rio Olympic Sevens Against Argentina

View the Olympic Rugby Squads!

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant