Men’s Eagles Sevens Selected for USA Sevens Rugby

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February 28, 2017

Men’s Eagles Sevens Selected for USA Sevens Rugbylogo

Doug Coil

The HSBC USA Sevens is being held March 3-5, 2017 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the fifth leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and will be streamed live in the United States via NBC Sports digital platforms.

Mike Friday, Head Coach of the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens, has selected his squad for the only leg of the Series in the United States. The Eagles currently are in eighth place in the Series standings with 35 points. An excellent performance by the Eagles brings them to within striking distance of Australia and Wales, as they have 40 points. Argentina and France also have 35 points, so the Eagles will be looking to look to put some distance between these two teams. The following week is also critical as the teams then move to the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

Mike Friday in talking to USA Rugby indicated that “These next two legs will define the season. The squad have got their head down to ensure that we represent the country in the best way we can in the circumstances. We have battled hard to be where we are and if we can be successful in these next two legs – if we can remain healthy as a squad – we can hopefully kick on for the rest of the season and maintain USA as contenders on the Sevens Series.”

The squad will be missing Carlin Isles who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. It is hoped that he recovers quickly and returns next season in fine form.

Both Ben Pinkelman and Maka Unufe, who were part of Team USA at the Olympics return to the squad. Ben Pinkelman needed some time to recover from injuries after the Summer and is now fit and anxious to contribute.

Walt Elder, who plays for the Kansas City Blues, will debut at this tournament. Pat Blair return to the squad and last played at the Singapore Sevens in 2016. This past November he was part of the Eagles XV squad.

In the forwards, there is consistency with Danny Barrett, Andrew Durutalo and Matai Leuta playing in the first four Series. Stephen Tomasin has also added a spark at hooker and has 10 tries. Danny Barrett has also found the try zone with 11. Andrew Durutalo is well done for his ability to work the breakdowns, poaching the ball and creating attacking opportunities for the team. Matei Leuta imposing size also adds physical dimension twhen playing.

Madison Hughes, the captain of the team, is the leading scorer for the team. Perry Baker, who captained the team in Hughes absence in Cape Town, is the leading try scorer with 13. He has been on many highlight videos as he weaves between defenders and then leaves them in the dust.

Martin Iosefo with 8 tries compliments the team both offensively and defensively. Folau Niua is a leader and distributes the ball well. He has been a valuable player on the squad since 2011.

The Eagles are in Pool B along with Samoa who they begin play on Friday, March 3 at 8:37 p.m. ET. They have won twice this year against Samoa, but that team can not be taken lightly. After Samoa, the Eagles play Chile, the Sudámerica Sevens qualifier, at 11:36 p.m. ET. There final pool match is against England on Saturday at 6:24 p.m. ET.

All matches of the tournament will be streamed live via NBC Sports’ digital platforms.

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC USA Sevens
1. Pat Blair 2. Ben Pinkelman 3. Danny Barrett 4. Matai Leuta 5. Walt Elder 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Maka Unufe 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC USA Sevens
v. Samoa – Friday, March 3 @ 8:37 p.m. ET
v. Chile – Friday, March 3 @ 11:36 p.m. ET
v. England – Saturday, March 4 @ 7:24 p.m. ET

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant