By Jarrod Beckstrom, USA Rugby
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Twenty national team players and prospects will arrive in camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. on Friday January 20, 2012 to prepare for the New Zealand and USA legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
With the announcement in November 2011 that 15 national team players would receive full-time training contracts, the structure of the first camp of 2012 varies from previous team assemblies.
A core group of contracted players are joined by a ‘taxi squad’ during pre-tournament camps. Any combination of full-time and taxi squad players can be named to the 12-player squad that represents the USA in international competitions.
Ten of the 12 players selected for the first three legs of the World Series in Australia, Dubai, and South Africa are all at camp, providing experience to a number of newcomers to camp. Veterans Mark Bokhoven, Mike Palefau, and Matt Hawkins provide experience and leadership to a very young camp roster.
All-American and Davenport University standout, J.P. Eloff, will be in camp after an impressive club sevens season with the Chicago Lions. Eloff is the younger brother of former Eagle and Rugby World Cup veteran, Phillip Eloff.
Former Junior All-American (JAA) Apelu So’oalo of the Hawaiian club the Kalihi Raiders will join the camp as well. So’oalo scored a crucial try for the JAAs in the 2011 Junior World Rugby Trophy in the USA’s win over Zimbabwe. In August 2011, So’oalo earned All-Star honors and helped the SoCal Griffins win the 2011 All-Star Sevens National Championship in August.
Schyulkill River standout Greg Ambrogi will be in camp after recovering from an injury sustained in the 2011 Men’s Club Sevens National Championship after a collision with fellow USA camper Maka Unufe.
Unufe debuted for the USA in the 2011 Pan American Games, but missed out on the first three stops on the HSBC Sevens World Series. Unufe’s Pan Am teammate, Rocco Mauer, also missed the first three stops of the Series.
Blaine Scully and Roland Suniula return to the squad after injury ruled them out of the November camp and the first three World Series events.
USA MEN’S EAGLE SEVENS CAMP | JANUARY 20-27, 2012
Garrett Bender (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Tai Enosa (San Diego, Calif.)
Colin Hawley (Trowbridge, Calif.)
Rocco Mauer (Cleveland, Ohio)
Folau Niua (East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Blaine Scully (Sacramento, Calif.)
Roland Suniula (Boston, Mass.)
Shalom Suniula (San Diego, Calif.)
Zack Test (Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (Naperville, Ill.)
Maka Unufe (Provo, Utah)
Greg Ambrogi (Schyulkill River; Havertown, Pa.)
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach; Boston, Mass.)
Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wa.)
Jean Pierre Eloff (Davenport University; Pretoria, South Africa)
Matthew Hawkins (Belmont Shore; San Diego, Calif.)
Nese Malifa (Glendale; Glendale, Colo.)
Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors; Salt Lake City, Utah)
Apelu So’oalo (Kalihi Raiders; Honolulu, Hawaii)