The USA Eagles fell behind Kenya to 12th in the IRB Sevens standings after a mixed-bag tournament in Glasgow last weekend.
Still, earning tournament points is always a good thing.
In the end, USA was beaten by Kenya – a team they’d beaten in earlier round play – in the Shield Final, by 22-17. It’s now on to London for the tournament finale this weekend. Coach Alexander Magleby believes that, on a good day, his team can compete with the best and are steadily improving. In pool play, the Eagles played the Aussies close, until giving away two tries in the final two minutes and losing 29-14. They also played the English hard, tied 12-12 until deep into the second half, before going down 19-12. In their final pool game, the Eagles beat Kenya 29-14, with emerging star Rocco Mauer scoring two tries.
That performance put the Eagles into the Bowl quarterfinal against Russia, where they lost by just one point to move to the Shield segment of the four-trophy format of a Sevens tournament. The points from Glasgow put the Eagles in 12th place, tied on points with Kenya and just two behind Scotland. With just the London tournament remaining, the Eagles will have to shine to meet their pre-season goal of a top ten finish.
For the record, the New Zealand team extended its lead at the top of the table to 11 points over Fiji.
April 4 (Reuters) – U.S. World Cup rugby player Hayden Smith has agreed to join the New York Jets, according to his representatives.
The Jets would not confirm the signing on Wednesday but Smith’s personal coach Tim Brewster and his agent Jack Bechta said an agreement was in place.
The 6-foot-7 (2.02-metre), 255-pound (116-kg) Hayden, who played college basketball at Metropolitan State in Denver, started all four group matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
He has also had a spell with English rugby club Saracens.
“Hayden Smith has signed with the Jets,” said former San Diego Chargers tight-end coach Brewster on his Twitter account.
The Australian-born Smith worked out with a number of NFL teams in February including the Jets.
“It’s something that I always wanted to do growing up in Australia,” Smith told USA Today.
“You look at American pro sports as the world class leagues,” added Smith who is hoping to play for the Jets as a tight end.
“It had been a dream to play in the NBA but I see the NFL at the same level.”
Punter Ben Graham, a former Australian Rules footballer, also played for the Jets from 2005-07. (Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, editing by Tony Jimenez)
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Newly hired USA Men’s Eagle Sevens head coach, Alexander Magleby, has named the 12 players that will depart on Sunday March 18 for the sixth and seventh stops of the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series.
The USA will play in the world renowned Hong Kong Sevens from March 23-25 and the first-ever Tokyo Sevens on March 31 – April 1.
“Hong Kong is an exciting tournament, one of the best, and a great opportunity for us to grow,” said Magleby who has played for the USA in the Hong Kong Sevens before and will soon know what it’s like to coach at the famous tournament.
Captain Shalom Suniula feels that the team is confident and aware of where they stand as a group going into the climax of the Series. “We’ve got a really good feeling right now. The guys have been working really, really hard to get rid of some bad habits. We’re working on our defense, we still need work and we know that, which is good,” Suniula said.
The captain will lead a corps of capable and experienced players. Zack Test, Colin Hawley, Mike Palefau, Peter Tiberio, Folau Niua, and Suniula are the nucleus of the team. All six have had flashes of brilliance this season so far and will look to ignite fiery performances in Hong Kong and Tokyo under their new coach.
Two exciting players, Maka Unufe and Andrew Durutalo, though very different in terms of stature and skill set, represent an exciting crop of young talent in the sevens program. Veterans Mark Bokhoven and Nick Edwards return to the team after missing out on the USA Sevens in February. Utility back Tai Enosa has earned a call up and will likely see action at flyhalf and scrumhalf in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Nu’u Punimata, the former University of Texas – El Paso linebacker and
Old Puget Sound Beach star returns to the fray in the USA forwards. A physical presence with a high work rate, Punimata hasn’t played with the Eagles since October 2011, when Team USA took bronze at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Hong Kong tournament, historically a 24-team competition, will see two parallel 12-team tournaments being played at Hong Kong Stadium. The 12 core World Series teams – teams that compete in all nine tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series, including the USA – are in one competition and 12 aspiring core teams are in the other competition that will decide which teams will be promoted to core status next season.
One result of the change in format is a very competitive pool for every core team in Hong Kong. The Eagles are no exception. The Eagles will play New Zealand (Friday March 23, 5:28 a.m. ET), South Africa (Friday March 23, 10:58 p.m. ET), and Wales (Saturday March 24, 4:06 a.m. ET) in Pool B action.
Success, Suniula said, will be realized by the achievement of small goals that will lead to positive results. One of those small goals is for players to understand their teammates and their tendencies. “We want to understand the way each other plays. Sevens is a game of anticipation, so one thing we have to do is anticipate one another’s movements,” the captain said.
USA Men’s Eagle Sevens Hong Kong and Tokyo Sevens Player (Club; Hometown) Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa) Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle Wa.) Nick Edwards (Sydney University; Sydney, Australia) Tai Enosa (USA Rugby; San Diego, Calif.) Colin Hawley (USA Rugby; Trowbridge, Calif.) Folau Niua (USA Rugby; East Palo Alto, Calif.) Mike Palefau (Unattached; Salt Lake City, Utah) Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wa.) Shalom Suniula (USA Rugby; San Diego, Calif.) Zack Test (USA Rugby; Palo Alto, Calif.) Peter Tiberio (USA Rugby; Naperville, Ill.) Maka Unufe (USA Rugby; Provo, Utah)
- By USA Rugby –
Wales put the USA out of competition for the Bowl in the quarter-finals by 10-0. The Eagles haven’t won a game in Wellington and will be very disappointed with their performance. Coach Al Caravelli had hoped for more. The Eagles will now compete forthe Shield a little later in the day.
With ninety seconds to go, the USA Sevens looked like they were heading to the gold medal game of the inaugural Pan-Am games Rugby Sevens tournament.
But Canada had other thoughts, scoring on the last play of the game to send the Eagles to the third-place game by a score of 21-19.
That hurts. A lot.
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – It was the most mixed of bags for the USA Eagles, as they notched up a win, a tie, and a loss on the first day of the 2011 Pan-American Games.
This means the Eagles Sevens will proceed out of pool play as the second seed and will face Guyana in the quarterfinals.
First day play saw the U.S. team beat Chile, tie Brazil and go down to Canada, despite leading at half-time.
- USA Rugby
Adopt-a-second-team programs were also highly successful, ensuring that smaller rugby nations like Namibia and Georgia received strong support for their games. Whole communities adopted teams, decking their towns out in the colors of their adoptees. The USA Eagles received tremendous support during their time in New Zealand, with many Kiwis dressing up in red, white and blue and waving the Stars & Stripes with gusto. When the Eagles played Australia, the Dominion Post estimated that 75 percent of the crowd was cheering for the United States.
The USA Eagles put in solid efforts against quality opposition over the past few weeks. If you have any messages that you would like passed on to the Eagles, post them in the comments area below.
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The Nelson Mail writes about Junior Sifa’s return to Nelson, where he has a long rugby playing history.
The USA Eagles take on Italy tonight in Nelson at 7:30 p.m. (New Zealand time). The match will be broadcast LIVE on Universal Sports at 2:30 a.m EDT (re-aired at 8 p.m EDT), and then will be shown delayed online 24 hours after the game. View the complete viewing schedule at UniversalSports.com.
There promises to be a fired-up capacity crowd in Nelson for the game tonight. The U.S. returns most of its starters to the line-up, hoping for a victory that will automatically qualify them for the next Rugby World Cup.
The Italians, though, are also focused on this game, and it should be a pulsating contest.
The little community of Richmond, outside Nelson, will have put a bit of fire in U.S. bellies after a heart-warming celebration of all things American, including a parade. Being so warmly embraced so far from home has got to feel good.
USA Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has named his best possible team to face Italy at Trafalgar Park in Nelson for the Eagles’ final match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). A win for the USA would mean automatic qualification for the 2015 RWC.
The match will be broadcast LIVE on Universal Sports at 2:30 a.m EDT (re-aired at 8 p.m EDT), and then will be shown delayed online 24 hours after the game. View the complete viewing schedule at UniversalSports.com.
In Pool C, Australia (3rd in world rankings) and Ireland (6th in world rankings) are on course for the RWC quarterfinals, with only two teams from each of the four pools advancing. The USA are currently ranked 17th and Italy are 10th in the world. The Italians have made tremendous strides in rugby since joining the Six Nations competition in 2000. Earlier this year Italy defeated France 22-21.
“We are very excited for this final pool match, and have several players fresh for the encounter. We have a very short turn-around following the Australia match in Wellington, and have planned accordingly,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles have impressed at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, starting with an inspired performance against Ireland on September 11. Despite losing 22-10, the Eagles won thousands of fans for a brave effort, scoring near full time through Paul Emerick. During that match, prop Mike MacDonald became the most capped USA player of all time with 63 appearances.
In the next pool match four days later, the USA defeated Russia 13-6 to record an historic win in the RWC. It was a bruising battle in which the Russians defended tremendously to keep the score line that close.
This past weekend fourteen changes were made to the team that won against Russia, as they faced Australia, winners of the RWC in 1991 and 1999. JJ Gagiano’s try against the Wallabies was one of the moments of the match at a packed Wellington Regional Stadium, with the majority of fans screaming wildly for the Eagles. Famous New Zealand commentator Murray Mexted said, “I’ve been to hundreds of matches in Wellington, and this is the loudest I have ever heard the crowd.”
Off the field, the USA squad has been heavily involved with the local communities in the various cities. This afternoon some of the players will attend the Tasman 7s, featuring 600 youth rugby players from many local regions. Tomorrow the Eagles will be at the Richmond Parade, meeting the Mayor as well as the US Ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner.
On the field, Todd Clever returns to lead his country as captain. The flanker has been vital for the United States, devastating with both ball in hand and on defense. Louis Stanfill is the blindside flank with Nic Johnson at eight man, both possessing an outstanding work rate.
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