Following a tough weekend in Toulouse, the USA Men’s Sevens squad heads to London this week for the final stop of the season, where another challenging pool awaits. HSBC London Sevens kicks off Saturday, May 20, live on Peacock.
The same traveling squad from France have made their way to London, where Head Coach Mike Friday will make the final determination on the team of 13 that will step foot on the pitch this weekend. With pool matches against 2023 Series Champions New Zealand, South Africa, and Great Britain, the Dawgs will look to culminate a season’s worth of trials and tribulations into an end-of-season high note. Twickenham brings an elevated vibe to the sevens experience, an environment the USA will embrace and perform at best on the ever challenging World stage.
Comments from Head Coach Mike Friday: “It was a hugely frustrating weekend in Toulouse, where but for small individual errors we could have progressed into the Cup Quarters. The learning experiences for these young players are brutally harsh to take as a group, but unfortunately that is the gladiator nature of the World Series. We are not at all proud or happy with our application in the lower bracket games and fully recognize that fact. Whilst there is no excuse, the developing squad are wrestling with maintaining their confidence at these times and once again tough lessons we have to learn.
What is hugely disappointing, is the lack of perspective and derogatory support being shown by some uninformed vocal parts of the USA rugby community. Everyone needs to understand the majority of the squad have been on the circuit anywhere from 0-18 months after a 2-year COVID hiatus, which hugely disrupted the game in the USA. It appears that some supporters feel the boys should be operating at the same level as the 2019 squad, who had been together five years to that point. Layer on top that we are currently in the most competitive World Series since its inception, shows a real lack of understanding about how team chemistry develops and how difficult it actually is in the International sevens game. I would suggest a little more empathy, grace and patience should be shown before people decide to shout.”
The USA begin their London tour against Series champions New Zealand. With gold medals from five of the 10 tournaments this season, the All Blacks Sevens have been a tough team to beat. The USA will put out their best from the get-go against a team they haven’t seen much of this season, but a tone-setting match as the top contest to start off pool play. Next, the USA plays South Africa, who defeated the Dawgs last weekend, keeping them out of the quarterfinals. With takeaways in hand, the USA has a chance to apply direct lessons against the Blitzboks. The USA’s last Pool A match is a matchup with Great Britain, a strong team that knows how to capitalize on opportunities.
Friday continued, “Turning to this weekend, we are once again in a difficult group but we have a strong belief, if we can play both sides of the ball in the manner we did in the Toulouse pool stage, whilst looking to eradicate the small individual errors, we are more than capable of causing mayhem and progressing deeper in the tournament.
We need to remain confident as a group and believe in our ability to hold the ball and play accurately with pace and power. Defensively we have to be prepared to firstly work hard for one another, so we are in the right positions to make our one-on-one tackles and make good decisions on when to physically compete, force turnovers and defensive pressure.”
USA Men’s Sevens Traveling Squad | HSBC London Sevens
|1. Aaron Cummings||Forward||13|
|3. David Still||Forward/Wing||17|
|5. Joe Schroeder||Forward||31|
|6. Kevon Williams (C)||Halfback/Wing||46|
|7. Naima Fuala’au||Halfback||24|
|8. Malacchi Esdale||Wing/Center||17|
|9. Stephen Tomasin||Forward||53|
|10. Faitala Talapusi||Halfback||18|
|12. Lucas Lacamp||Center||12|
|14. Marcus Tupuola||Halfback/Center||24|
|18. Maka Unufe||Center||47|
|25. Pita Vi||Wing/Center||3|
|26. Jack Wendling||Forward||3|
|27. Ryan Santos||Forward||1|
USA Men’s Sevens Traveling Staff
Head Coach | Mike Friday
Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner
Strength & Conditioning | Josh Schnell
Athletic Trainer | Kristen Douhan
Team Manager | Scott Novack
USA Men’s Sevens London Schedule
Saturday, May 20
v. New Zealand | 6:29 a.m. ET
v. South Africa | 9:15 a.m. ET
v. Great Britain | 1:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 20
Knockouts begin 4:45 a.m. ET