The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will make its much-anticipated return to the United States this weekend as the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens are named for the LA Sevens and final stop of the 2022 circuit.
Head Coach Mike Friday and the selected squad will travel up the southern California coast from the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista as a full stadium of friends, family and fans await them at Dignity Health Sports Park, August 27-28. Closing out an extended break from the series since London at the end of May, Friday and the greater squad have been fully active in Chula Vista as preparations ramp up for LA and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town this September. Veteran Stephen Tomasin steps into the captaincy role, as Kevon Williams will miss Los Angeles and the Rugby World Cup Sevens following a foot injury. The USA find themselves in an exciting pool for LA as their match up with South Africa will open the tournament at 9:20 AM PT, streaming LIVE on Peacock. Tickets to LA Sevens can be found here.
85 days since walking off the pitch at Twickenham in London, the USA Men’s Sevens have been active and fully focused on preparations for Los Angeles and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town. Hosting two exhibition competitions with Korea, Japan, France, Uruguay and Argentina in Chula Vista, the USA bridged the extended hiatus with quality opposition and tournament play as a majority of the series table competed in the Commonwealth Games this July. Looking beyond LA and the Rugby World Cup Sevens, Friday and his staff hosted a three-week development camp with identified collegiate and pathway players who had the opportunity to embed themselves in the senior national team training environment. Maka Unufe will also make his return to the sevens pitch, having last played with the Men’s Eagles Sevens two years ago during the North American stretch in Los Angeles and Vancouver of 2020.
The USA will arrive in Los Angeles with Series leaders South Africa awaiting them for match one of tournament play. The USA have matched up well against the Blitzboks this year, walking away with a nail-biting 12-7 victory over them in Singapore when these two teams last met. This opening fixture will be an opportunity for the USA to set pace and engage the home crowd advantage from the get-go. Next up will be New Zealand who arrive in LA with intermittent competition, having missed the first half of this year’s series and filling the summer break with a bronze medal finish at the Commonwealth Games. The Eagles and All Blacks Sevens have only faced off once this year, in another close affair that fell the New Zealand way. Pool play will then close with a North American border-battle as Canada take on the USA. Though another tough pool that the USA have frequently drawn this year, Los Angeles comes after a constructive training period, and as ever, the tenacity and passion of playing on home soil. Dignity Health Sports Park is primed for an electric finish to the Eagle’s season and precursor to the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Head Coach Mike Friday’s comments going into the home stop on the Series:
“We have been working extremely hard following the last leg in London, primarily on our physical preparation and robustness to go for 14 minutes or more, as this is an area we need to continue to mature in. As an evolving group, we have continued to work on the foundations of the game so that we can be more consistent in those fundamental moments which we are currently not winning, more due to our actions rather than the opposition. These last four weeks we have had a number of visiting teams and competitive matches hosting Argentina, France, Uruguay, Korea and Japan throughout the month, which hopefully will stand us in good stead this coming weekend.
“As always, injuries are part of the game and unfortunately we will be without Kevon Williams for the next few months due to an injury picked up during this block. We are hugely disappointed for him as he was not only leading the boys so well on and off the pitch, he was also playing fantastically well on both sides of the ball. Stephen Tomasin will step up to captain the team, a player with huge experience and most importantly he will lead by example and give us the best opportunity to be successful. No doubt Joe Schroeder will be a calming dominant figure as well, in what is a group of death.
We have been involved in a number of spicy groups this season, but this challenge surpasses all others I would say. New Zealand will be hungry and fierce coming into this, along with South Africa who will be relentlessly chasing the Series title foillowing their Commonwealth gold last month. To round the dynamic off we have an all encompassing North American derby with Canada, which are always highly emotional tusseles.
We are fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead and excited to have the World Rugby Sevens Series back on home soil for the first time in nearly three years. If we play our game to our potential, we can go deep into this final tournament.”
USA MEN’S SEVENS ROSTER | HSBC LA SEVENS
|Player Name||Position||HSBC Tournaments|
|1. Aaron Cummings||Forward||2|
|2. Gavan D’Amore||Forward||8|
|3. David Still||Forward/Wing||8|
|4. Maceo Brown||Utility||20|
|5. Joe Schroeder||Forward||22|
|6. Maka Unufe||Center/10||43|
|7. Folau Niua||Halfback||75|
|8. Malacchi Esdale||Center/Wing||6|
|9. Stephen Tomasin (C)||Utility||43|
|10. Naima Fuala’au||Halfback||14|
|11. Perry Baker||Wing/Center||55|
|12. Lucas Lacamp||Center/10||6|
|13. Cody Melphy||Halfback||7|
USA Men’s Sevens Traveling Staff
Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | Ben Pinkelman
Head of Performance | Alex Ross
Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner
Strength & Conditioning | Josh Schnell
Athletic Trainer | Bobby Gragston
Team Manager | Scott Novack
USA Men’s Sevens Los Angeles Schedule
vs South Africa | 9:20 AM PT
vs New Zealand | 12:48 AM PT
vs Canada | 3:37 PM PT
Placement rounds begin Sunday, Aug 28 at 8:45 AM PT