USA Men's Sevens secure qualification for Paris 2024 Olympics

Mon, Aug 21, 2023, 3:19 AM
by Calder Cahill.

The USA Men’s Sevens qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games today, going 4-0 against North American competition during the RAN Sevens Qualifier in Langford, British Columbia.

Competing over two days, the bracket came down to a classic border war between the USA and host Canada, in front of the opponents very lively and supportive home crowd. This is the second time the United States men have booked their ticket to the Olympics via the regional qualifier, following a similar gold medal victory in 2015 for the Rio games. Mike Friday’s squad will now turn their attention to the upcoming and reformatted HSBC SVNS series, kicking off this December in Dubai. Comfortably secured on the Team USA delegation for Paris, the squad will carry through this season with eyes set on improving ahead of the games and earning a spot on the named roster next summer.

Captain Kevon Williams and Head Coach Mike Friday's comments post-match:

The two-day tournament from Starlight Stadium started without a hitch for the USA, scoring 102 collective points across 16 tries against Bermuda and Mexico, while allowing exactly zero points on defense. To be expected as a top 10 nation on the World Rugby stage, the USA were in complete control through pool play and earned a quarterfinal bye on day two, awaiting the winner of Jamaica vs Bermuda on Sunday morning. Ben Pinkelman scored a try on his first return to the USA squad, while Malacchi Esdale and Lucas Lacamp led the team with four scores each in the pay dirt.

Perry Baker and Kevon Williams after Day One:

Day two saw a third straight shutout over Jamaica in the semifinal, continuing to dominate the breakdown, however some tweaks to work out despite the commanding win. The first half closed with Naima Fuala’au shown a yellow card just before the whistle. A couple miscues the team would put a focus on for the final, however a comfortable win to secure a spot in the last match of the tournament.

The final was simply a winner take all fixture, with either the United States or Canada taking the single qualification spot offered on the weekend. The USA came in a favorite, however the Canadian momentum and notable home crowd energy brought the fixture to fairly even odds. The match ended up a chippy 14 minutes with the rivals fighting for possession, the USA would score first, but give up a penalty and allow Canada to equalize and take the lead with a conversion soon after. That would be the only lead for the home team however, as Baker broke free on the outside, pacing away from tackles as he's always done so well. Williams would otherwise secure the lead and win with a sprint up the middle himself.

The USA Men’s Sevens will now head back to the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista to reset both physically and mentally after a 10 week stretch to the qualifier, now focused on performing over the 8-stop series of HSBC SVNS and using the tour to elevate their game to the Olympic level in Paris

USA Men's Sevens Roster | 2023 RAN Sevens
Name Position
1. Aaron Cummings Forward
5. Joe Schroeder Forward
6. Kevon Williams (C) Halfback/Wing
7. Naima Fuala'au Halfback
8. Malacchi Esdale Wing/Center
9. Stephen Tomasin Forward
10. Faitala Talapusi Halfback
11. Perry Baker Wing
12. Lucas Lacamp Center
14. Marcus Tupuola Haflback/Center
16. Adam Channel Forward
24. Lance Williams Forward
28. Ben Pinkelman Forward

USA Men's Sevens Staff | 2023 RAN Sevens

Head Coach | Mike Friday

Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner

Strength & Conditioning | Josh Schnell

Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas

Team Manager | Scott Novack