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)
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Team USA finished its Pan American Games debut in rugby sevens with a bronze medal victory, 21-17, against Uruguay on Sunday, the final day of the Games.
They qualified into the bronze medal game after defeating Guyana, 24-12, in the quarterfinal and suffering a, 21-19, loss to Canada in the semifinal. The U.S. finished with an overall record of 2-2-1.
“Everything they do is a continuous improvement,” said head coach Al Caravelli in regard to the team’s Pan Ams performance. “For us, everything is a journey toward 2016. Every step of the way, the goal is to play better than the game before.”
The USA Men’s Sevens team will begin the HSBC Sevens World Series this November in Gold Coast Australia, the first of the nine-tournament Series.
- USA Rugby
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, was extremely pleased with his squad at the recent camp held at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in San Diego. The camp was the first for the Eagles fifteens team in their preparations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in September.
During the camp, held from May 4-8, the players had several chances to impress O’Sullivan, the most obvious opportunity being a controlled scrimmage on the Saturday afternoon.
“It was a very successful camp for us. The players really applied themselves, with us getting seven very tough sessions done between Thursday and Sunday,” O’Sullivan said.
With the Rugby World Cup only months away, this domestic camp proved a valuable selection tool for O’Sullivan and his coaching staff.
Newly appointed technical experts Fiore Screnci (Scrum Coach) and Chris O’Brien (Kicking Coach) had a chance to work with the 35 players, while Matt Sherman (Backs Coach), Dave Hodges (Forwards Coach) and Mike Tolkin (Defensive Coach) imparted their expertise to the group.
“The work ethic was excellent and we got a lot of quality reps done. We also got a lot of information that we didn’t have before, particularly some of the new players,” said O’Sullivan, “The next job now is to pick the Churchill Cup pool.”
The Eagles will travel to England in June to compete in the 2011 Churchill Cup, where they will take on the England Saxons (June 4) and Tonga (June 8), before the Elimination round (June 18).
The Eagles’ Churchill Cup opponents will be challenging and so too will be their training and match schedule.
“We hit the ground on the 30th of May and have to play on the 4th of June. It’s then a very short turn-around till we play Tonga,” said O’Sullivan.
The coach will select his Churchill Cup team over the next few weeks.
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DUBAI – USA Men’s Sevens lost its two second round games at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens in the United Arab Emirates, but coach Al Caravelli is happy with the way his team is finding its shape.
Having advanced to the quarter finals of the first tournament of eight in the renamed HSBC Sevens World Series, USA earned their first log points, something that had taken them four tournaments last year.
“We played some good rugby and because of our recent history with Hong Kong I’d give our participation here a pass,” said Caravelli.
“We want to finish in the top ten and these six points are a good start.”