USA Men’s Eagle Sevens coach, Al Caravelli, has announced the 12-man squad he will take to Wellington and Las Vegas for the next two stages in the HSBC Sevens World Series. Caravelli said that camp was extremely productive and a good indication of the mental preparedness of the squad.
Two-a-day trainings and stiff competition were on the program for the current player pool.
“We have worked a lot on defense, communication and mental strength, the latter being one of the highlights of the camp,” said Caravelli. “Focusing on our goal of keeping a consistent core of players, we made only three changes between the last tournament and the Wellington and Las Vegas stages.”
The U.S. Men’s Eagle Sevens team will be arriving in Wellington the last week of this month. Expectations are high. The Sevens game suits the United States, known for the speed and stamina of its Rugby players. Now that the game will be added to the Olympics, in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, there will be even more focus on Sevens in the United States.
The Americans have had some success at the Wellington Sevens tournament, which begins Feb. 4, winning the Shield both last year and in 2008. There are four main prizes to be won at a Sevens tournament. The overall winners receive the Cup, then, in descending order of prestige, there is the bowl, the plate and the shield.
The best way to describe the shield winner is that it goes to the best of the third- or fourth-place finishers after initial group play. It’s still silverware, and that’s what counts. The U.S. won the Shield by beating Tonga, after first besting Scotland in the semi-final. Nice wins. Nice shield.
Also last year, the United States played in the finals for the Cup in Adelaide and won the Bowl against France at home. It’s been a little tougher going this year, but everyone is coming into the Wellington tournament with heads and hope held high. The IRB Sevens World Series consists of eight individual tournaments in seven countries across the globe and is played over several months. The team with the most points at the end of the series is crowned champion. The world series is now in its 11th year.
As mentioned in the post below, we will have the chance to catch up with the U.S. Sevens team when they arrive in Wellington at the end of the month. We’ll also bring you pictures and blogs about the craziness that is the Wellington Sevens.
Just quickly, here’s the schedule for the United States team at the Wellington Sevens tournament starting February 4.
Adrian Pratt, U.S. Embassy, Wellington
Wellington is girding itself for the arrival of the Sevens Tournament. More than one wag has referred to the Sevens Weekend as Wellington’s Mardi Gras. There are even beads.
The tournament, in which the United States is participating, will be held Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 at Westpac Stadium. It’s the third of eight IRB Sevens World Series events.
Those are just the boring details, though. The Sevens attract about 30,000 visitors every year and, let’s say, it can get a little wild. There are even cheerleaders. To view their routines, some of which are a little unfortunate, you can check here. Many of the visitors dress up – flamboyantly. Action heroes, cartoon characters, nurses, Smurfs, mullets, doctors with portable IV-drips (probably with life-saving nectar in them) and everything in between can be seen on the streets of this fair city.
The whole town basically disintegrates into a fancy dress party occasionally interrupted by Rugby games – except when New Zealand is playing. Then it gets serious. (New Zealand has won the IRB Sevens Series more than anyone else, and the New Zealanders take their Rugby, including the Sevens, very seriously.) Even those who don’t have tickets to the games dress up and head into the entertainment district.
Apparently there is alcohol involved.
Oh, yeah, back to the Rugby. This year the United States is in Pool A, with England, Wales and the Cook Islands. It’s a difficult group. Not that there’s such a thing, really, as an easy game in Sevens: It’s the great equalizer format. Normal Rugby has 15 players. With less than half that, Sevens relies much more on speed. The defending champions are Fiji.
The United States team will be arriving at the end of January for training. They’re hoping to have a couple of scrimmage games. Perhaps even one against the Kiwis. We’ll post pictures and interviews.
Adrian Pratt, U.S. Embassy, Wellington
Our friend Alex Goff at RugbyMag.com has written a really good column about who he thinks might make it onto the 30-man USA Eagles roster for Rugby World Cup 2011.
Alex has had the chance to watch a lot of these players in action recently and his thoughts are very insightful and help a great deal in identifying players to watch.
The way Alex sees it, more than half the spots on the Eagles team are still up for grabs. That should make for an interesting year.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev are eying the Sept. 15th USA-Russia game at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Plymouth, according to an article in The Taranaki Daily News you can read here.
This will certainly raise the profile of a game both teams think they can win.
Junior Sifa, who helped the USA Eagles qualify for the Rugby World Cup with a try against Uruguay, moved to New Zealand when he was nine. A former Nelson Bays player, Sifa is hoping to play in front of a hometown crowd when the U.S. take on Italy in Nelson on September 27 in the big tournament.
Due to injury, Sifa did not play for the Eagles against Georgia recently, but he told The Nelson Mail earlier last year he’s definitely got his eyes on the prize of the Rugby World Cup. As he was born in American Samoa, Sifa, 27, was eligible to play for not only the Eagles, but also the All Blacks and Samoa.
The New Zealand Herald wrote a nice little story about Sifa and about the Italian team, who will be making Nelson their home for much of the Rugby World Cup.
You can read it here.