USA Men's Sevens just miss podium in Vancouver

Sun, Feb 25, 2024, 7:22 PM
by Taylor Dean
Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

The USA Men’s Sevens captured fourth place at Vancouver SVNS after falling to a dominant French side in the third place final. 

The team played cohesively to earn a spot in their first semifinal and medal match of the season, showing their improvements from the beginning of the SVNS last fall. Takeaways from the semifinal and third place playoff matches will help the Dawgs revisit strategies as they look toward the podium at their home tournament. 2024 HSBC Los Angeles SVNS kicks off Friday, March 1, live on RugbyPass.

Comments from Head Coach Mike Friday: 

“There are a lot of positives in terms of our overall performance. We showed physicality, attacking potential, speed, and the next piece we need to look at is consistency. I’m pleased with the way we’re moving forward with our defensive and attacking games. We also had improvements on our kickoff game on both sides of the ball. 

The harsh reality is that, yes, this is our first semifinal and bronze medal match of the season, and we did bring a greater consistency across the three days. But when you look at the games we lost, it comes down to our areas of mistakes. We didn’t stick to the details on certain plays. When you go up against the world, you have to be on point. We started fantastically well in the bronze medal match, but the details in the moment let us down. 

The takeaway as we focus on LA is first and foremost make sure we are a fully fit team. We need to recover well and look really well at the strategies on both sides of the ball. We need to understand it, buy it, execute it, and stick to it in the moment. When we do that, we show we are a force for anybody and we will continue to move up the table. We’re looking forward to playing on home soil and for the opportunity to play in front of our family and home crowd. Hopefully everybody will come out and support us.” 

Tournament Recap 

The men’s first Pool B game was a matchup against France. The Dawgs showed off solid connection at the start, getting Lucas Lacamp on the wing over the try line for the first USA points. With former World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont making his debut, Les Bleues were a force on both sides of the ball. France took advantage of some handling errors, leading to control most of the game. But a yellow card to France at the final whistle gave the USA space for Adam Channel to have the final say in the match, ending 12-24. 

Looking to turn around their first day in Vancouver, the Dawgs were determined to fight to the last minute for a win against Australia. The USA had a strong start, but a chip and chase play ended in a fight for the ball, which became the theme of the game. Malacchi Esdale ran past defenders for the first try of the match. Not long after, Perry Baker found the ball on one wing and passed it down to Aaron Cummings on the other side for another five points. The second half was a big fight for possession with a lot of kicking. Esdale found the try zone again off great USA phase play to score his 60th career try, but Australia found themselves in the lead with less than a minute left. At the restart, the USA got the final play, and Perry Baker scored the try of the day as he broke away and sped off toward the try zone to win it all for the Dawgs, 26-21. 

A physical Samoa went up against the USA for their final pool match. The Pacific Islanders were a force to start, and the Dawgs had to work to keep up with the physicality at breakdowns and high pressure defense. Samoa muscled their way to the first try of the match, but it would be the only time they score the entire game. The first half was slow as the teams worked through different set pieces, and the USA worked to organized their scrambled attacking force. Malacchi Esdale ended the first half with a try off a scrum, tying up the game. The second half began with a strong USA defense as they pulled Samoa out to touch and took possession for Kevon Williams to get space on the wing for another five points. The Dawgs cleaned up their attack and found their cohesion as they worked toward the try zone again, keeping the ball in play for Lucas Lacamp to offload to Perry Baker for the final try of the game, ensuring the USA’s ticket to the quarterfinals with a 21-7 win. 

The Dawgs went into their quarterfinal against Great Britain with confidence, and it showed throughout the match. The majority of the first half went by without a score, as the teams exchanged possession and fought through set pieces. Great Britain found the space to run down into USA territory, but the Dawgs stole the ball back for Malacchi Esdale to run end to end for the first try of the game. Soon after, Perry Baker sped past defenders for another five. The second half kick off didn’t go 10 meters, giving possession back to the USA. Perry Baker scored again with his unmatched speed, and the USA’s effortless scrums set up two perfect tries for Esdale and Lucas Lacamp. The shutout match won the USA a ticket to the semifinals with a 27-0 score. 

In the semifinal, the Dawgs met Argentina on the SVNS pitch for the first time this season. The dominant South American team started strong, and showed that they would be difficult to catch on attack. Argentina was quick on defense, too, but Perry Baker was quicker on the wing to score the first USA try. The opponents were patient in their phases to wear out USA defenses and keep them disorganized to increase the score gap. In the second half, the USA showed more connection and worked hard to keep the ball. Their work finally paid off to get Madison Hughes over the try line. A yellow card went to Argentina for an intentional knock on, and Hughes scored again, notching his 100th career try on the SVNS. Argentina were too dominant, though, winning the match 19-35, sending the USA to the third place playoff. 

The USA began their battle for third against France with confidence. France conceded several penalties, giving the Dawgs opportunities to work on their set pieces. A yellow card sent Antoine Dupont off the field for an intentional knock on, setting the USA up well for a power play. Marcus Tupuola immediately took advantage with the first try of the match off a scrum, and Lucas Lacamp sped away for another five points off a line out. With the squad’s set pieces working well, they were setting up for a dominant match. But France quickly reorganized and were able to push tacklers away on attack to score points. The USA faltered in the second half, letting France by on simple mistakes, giving them the game, 19-42. 

The Dawgs will return to Chula Vista with some major takeaways. Having made their first semifinal of the season, the team will eye improvements against the top teams as they chase the gold at their home tournament in Los Angeles. The HSBC Los Angeles SVNS will kick off Friday, March 1, live on RugbyPass.

USA Men's Sevens Roster | 2024 Vancouver SVNS
Name Position HSBC Tournaments
1. Aaron Cummings Forward 18
5. Joe Schroeder Forward 34
6. Kevon Williams (C) Halfback/Wing 49
7. Naima Fuala’au Halfback 26
8. Malacchi Esdale Wing/Center 22
9. Stephen Tomasin Utility 56
11. Perry Baker Wing 67
12. Lucas Lacamp Center/10 17
13. Orrin Bizer Forward 4
14. Marcus Tupuola Halfback/Center 28
18. Adam Channel Utility 14
30. Madison Hughes Halfback 56
77. Maka Unufe Center/10 50

USA Men’s Sevens Traveling Staff | 2024 Vancouver SVNS

Head Coach | Mike Friday 

Strength & Conditioning | Josh Schnell

Athletic Trainer | Brian Gardner 

Team Manager | Scott Novack 

Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner

Media Manager | Taylor Dean

USA Men’s Sevens Vancouver Results

Pool B

v France | 12-24 (L)

v Australia | 26-21 (W)

v Samoa | 21-7 (W)


QF v Great Britain | 27-0 (W)

SF v Argentina | 19-35 (L)

3rd Place Playoff v France | 12-42 (L)