November 26, 2016
Men’s Eagles Sevens Selected for Dubai & Capetown
“The squad also gives opportunities for some guys to make their debuts and continue the development of the Eagles Sevens as established contenders on the Series, something we have worked very hard to be over the last two years.”Mike Friday, Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach
Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday has selected a squad of 13 athletes to open the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Dec. 2-3.
The squad traveling to the United Arab Emirates and South Africa consist of eight residents of the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Six of the residents also were members of Team USA Rugby Sevens Olympic Squad at the Rio 2016 games. Four athletes will make their Series debuts in either Dubai or Capetown. The Eagles are in Pool B with Scotland, Rio bronze medalist South Africa, and Uganda for the opening leg of the 10-tournament season.
Mike Friday said that “The squad is very much in transition and has had limited time together for these first two legs. With a number of the boys having been focused on the XVs in what is a very important year for Rugby World Cup qualification, preseason has been limited and disjointed for some.
We recognize it has been a difficult buildup and there are a number of mitigating factors and distractions that we have had to deal with, but we start this Sevens Series setting our standards as high as ever. I expect – as the players expect – to be contenders in every leg, and they are fully aware of the responsibility and accountability that comes with accepting the shirt.”
Several members of the squad just returned from the USA Eagles XV Tour in Europe. These players include Madison Hughes, Eagles Sevens captain and 2015-16 Series top points leader. He started both the matches in Europe at fullback. Martin Iosefo and Matai Leuta both earned caps at wing, while Stephen Tomasin was an unused reserve. Leuta was also in contention for the Olympics until an injury ruled him out of contention.
Andrew Durualo was also an Olympian after playing for the Sunwolves of Super Rugby. He played against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks in Chicago’s “The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG” along with Danny Barrett and Folau Niua.
Friday added that “The squad also gives opportunities for some guys to make their debuts and continue the development of the Eagles Sevens as established contenders on the Series, something we have worked very hard to be over the last two years. These debutantes will need to learn quickly and realize that it is a very harsh environment if they are not ready for the challenge.”
The Eagles Sevens squad will be challenged by South Africa in the Pool. South Africa has six bronze medalists from the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, as well as additional veterans of the Sevens Series who were unavailable during the summer. While Team GB won a silver medal at the Olympics, Scotland had two selections to that team. Scotland also won the last Sevens Series event in London. Uganda booked their place as the invitational side in Dubai after winning the Rugby Africa Sevens.
Men’s Eagles Sevens – Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens / HSBC Cape Town Sevens
Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo, Alec Gletzer, Madison Hughes, Martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta, Folau Niua, Don Pati, Stephen Tomasin, Maka Unufe, Anthony Welmers, Kevon Williams
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens
v. Scotland – Friday, Dec. 2 @ 12:44 a.m. ET
v. Uganda – Friday, Dec. 2 @ 3:44 a.m. ET
v. South Africa – Friday, Dec. 2 @ 10:06 a.m. ET