United States national rugby union team (sevens)

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United States
USA Rugby Logo.png
Union USA Rugby
Nickname(s) The Eagles
Coach(es) Mike Friday
Captain(s) Madison Hughes
Most caps Zack Test (52)
Top scorer Zack Test (601)
Most tries Zack Test (119)
Team kit
Change kit
World Cup Sevens
Appearances 6 (First in 1993)
Best result 13th (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013)

The United States national rugby union sevens team represents the United States in international rugby sevens competitions, including the World Rugby Sevens Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens, and will represent the United States in the Summer Olympics in 2016. The Eagles also play in regional tournaments, such as the Pan American Games and the NACRA Sevens.

The Eagles have been a core team in the World Series and finished in the top 12 each season since 2008-09. The Eagles' best season to date was the 2014–15 season, where they finished 6th, winning the London Sevens.

Other successes include winning bronze medals at the 2011 & 2015 Pan American Games, winning the 2008 NAWIRA RWC 7s Qualifier to clinch a spot in the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens, and winning the 2015 NACRA Men's Sevens Championships to clinch a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games.

The United States traditionally used the 7s team to prepare players for the XV-side. The national sevens team has also drawn a number of crossover athletes from other sports, such as football and track. Since January 2012, due to increased attention generated by rugby's return to the Olympics in 2016, the national sevens team has turned professional, with the team extending paid full-time contracts to its core players.

Players[edit]

USA Rugby and the U.S. Olympic Committee made funds available beginning in January 2012 to provide full-time contracts to 23 players — 15 men and 8 women. USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville stated that a full-time sevens team would be a crucial step as USA Rugby prepares for rugby's return to the Olympics in 2016. Players train year round as a team at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego.[1][2]

Current squad
Number Player Age Events Points Tries
1 Isles, CarlinCarlin Isles 26 27 360 72
2 Leuta, MataiMatai Leuta 25 6 20 4
3 Barrett, DannyDanny Barrett 15 137 27
4 Pinkleman, BenBen Pinkleman 1 0 0
5 Test, ZackZack Test 26 56 646 128
6 Iosefo, MartinMartin Iosefo 6 15 3
7 Niua, FolauFolau Niua 31 33 360 35
8 Palamo, ThrettonThretton Palamo 14 30 6
9 Augspurger, NateNate Augspurger 26 8 23 1
10 Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes (c) 23 16 502 38
11 Baker, PerryPerry Baker 26 12 195 39
12 Holder, WillWill Holder 24 4 52 10

Updated: February 2016

Former contracted players

The following players were contracted by the US national team during 2012, but won't be offered a contract for 2013:
Mike Palefau, Rocco Mauer, Peter Tiberio, Taylor Mokate, Nu'u Punimata.

The following players were contracted by the US team during 2012–13, but are not under contract for the 2013–14 season:
Matt Hawkins (former Head Coach), Blaine Scully (playing professionally in England), Luke Hume, Colin Hawley.

Scoring Leaders: 2007-present[edit]

The following tables show the U.S. career leaders in major statistical categories in the Sevens World Series.

Notes:

  • These figures include only the Sevens World Series, and do not include other events such as the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
  • These statistics are taken from the World Rugby Squad Lists. These are released before each tournament and consequently do not include statistics from the player's last tournament.

Points[edit]

Points scored
No. Player Years Events Points
1 Test, ZackZack Test 2009– 56 646
2 Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes 2013– 16 502
3 Naqica, JoneJone Naqica 2002–09 25 403
4 Niua, FolauFolau Niua 2011– 32 360
5 Isles, CarlinCarlin Isles 2013– 27 360
6 Suniula, ShalomShalom Suniula 2008–14 41 328
7 Malifa, NeseNese Malifa 2007–12 17 307
8 Hawkins, MattMatt Hawkins 2007–13 37 280
9 Edwards, NickNick Edwards 2009–15 33 265
10 Naivalu, JovesaJovesa Naivalu 1999–08 14 237

Tries[edit]

Tries scored
No. Player Years Events Tries
1 Test, ZackZack Test 2009– 56 128
2 Isles, CarlinCarlin Isles 2013– 27 72
3 Hawkins, MattMatt Hawkins 2007–13 37 56
4 Edwards, NickNick Edwards 2009–15 33 53
5 Naivalu, JovesaJovesa Naivalu 1999–08 14 47
6 Wyles, ChrisChris Wyles 2007–09 10 41
7 Swiryn, KevinKevin Swiryn 2008– 14 38
8 Baker, PerryPerry Baker 2014– 12 39
9 Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes 2013– 16 38
10 Palefau, MikeMike Palefau 2005–14 28 37


Appearances[edit]

Events
No. Player Years Events
1 Test, ZackZack Test 2009– 56
2 Suniula, ShalomShalom Suniula 2008–14 41
3 Hawkins, MattMatt Hawkins 2007–13 37
4 Niua, FolauFolau Niua 2011– 33
5 Edwards, NickNick Edwards 2009–15 33
6 Palefau, MikeMike Palefau 2005–14 28
7 Isles, CarlinCarlin Isles 2013– 27
8 Hawley, ColinColin Hawley 2010–13 26
9 Bokhoven, MarkMark Bokhoven 26
10 Naqica, JoneJone Naqica 2002–09 25

Kicking[edit]

Goals kicked
No. Player Years Events Goals
1 Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes 2013– 16 156
2 Naqica, JoneJone Naqica 2002–09 25 114
3 Suniula, ShalomShalom Suniula 2008–14 41 114
4 Malifa, NeseNese Malifa 2007–12 17 108
5 Niua, FolauFolau Niua 2011– 35 92
6 Enosa, TaiTai Enosa 2009–13 16 45

Updated: February 3 2016

World Rugby Sevens Series[edit]

The World Rugby Sevens Series, which is played every year from October through May, is the principal event in which the U.S. national sevens team plays. The US has competed in the World Series every year since the event's inaugural 1999–2000 season. The U.S. team had some initial success during the early years of the tournament led by the try-scoring Jovesa Naivalu. However, the U.S. team struggled in the 5 seasons from 2002-03 through 2006-07.

The U.S. national rugby sevens team in Wellington for the 2008 New Zealand Sevens

The 2007-08 season was a turning point for the US team, qualifying for 6 of the 8 series tournaments, and notching a notable win against Samoa en route to placing sixth at the 2007 South Africa Sevens. The team was led by Chris Wyles who scored 26 tries on the season, and was the top try scorer at the 2008 USA Sevens with 8 tries. The IRB rewarded the Eagles' success by promoting the US to "core" team status for the 2008-09 season, meaning that the US automatically plays in all 8 tournaments without having to go through qualifying rounds.[3]

The 2008-09 season was the breakout season for the US, finishing 11th on the season. The high point of the team's season was the home tournament, the 2009 USA Sevens. Nese Malifa's 30 points in that tournament helped the US notch wins against Australia and Kenya to reach the semi-finals, their best result ever on home soil.

The 2009-10 season saw continued improvement, with the team finishing the season in 10th place. Led by Matt Hawkins and Nese Malifa, the team finished 9th to win the Bowl in the 2010 USA Sevens. The US then advanced to their first ever Cup final at the 2009 Adelaide Sevens, scoring upset wins against England, Wales and Argentina.

The team took a small step back during the 2010-11 season with a 12th place finish. A number of key players were unavailable for most or all of the season, including the previous season's leading try scorer Nick Edwards and leading point scorer Nese Malifa. Additionally, a number of competing teams had moved to professional status, leaving the mostly amateur US team struggling to keep pace.

The 2011-12 season saw significant changes for the U.S. The team turned professional in January 2012, with contracts for up to 15 players.[2] The change to professional status did not bring immediate improvement. Head coach Al Caravelli resigned, and Alex Magleby was selected as the new head coach. The US finished the 2011-12 season in 11th, a slight improvement over the previous season, even though the team did not reach the quarterfinals of any of the 9 tournaments. Bright spots for the season included the emerging leadership of Shalom Suniula (captain), Zack Test (team leading 21 tries) and Colin Hawley.[4]

The 2012–13 Series saw a slightly different format, with 15 core teams instead of 12, but with the possibility of relegation for the teams that finished in the bottom three. The U.S. got off to a slow start, ranked last among the 15 core teams after the first two legs. The U.S. saw improvement, however, reaching the quarterfinals in five of the last seven tournaments, and finishing in the top 6 during the last three tournaments. The U.S. finished fifth to win the Plate Final at the 2013 Japan Sevens, the first time the U.S. had won a plate since 2001,[5] and followed that feat by again finishing fifth to win the Plate Final at the 2013 Scotland Sevens,[6] with Nick Edwards the leading try-scorer in the tournament with 8 tries. The U.S. finished the season in 11th place, and had two players among the season's top try-scorers: Nick Edwards (20) and Zack Test (18). Coach Alex Magleby stepped down after the season.[7]

USA Rugby sevens team in 2014

The U.S. team fared poorly during the 2013–14 Series under new coach Matt Hawkins, finishing the season in 13th place. Once again, Zack Test led the team with 23 tries and 119 points on the season; other leading scorers included Carlin Isles with 17 tries, including six at the 2014 Wellington Sevens, and newcomer Madison Hughes with 34 goals scored.[8] Hawkins was blamed for the exodus of several veteran players, such as Colin Hawley and Shalom Suniula, and was asked to step down at the end of the season.[9]

The U.S. had its best season ever in the 2014–15 Series under head coach Mike Friday, who was hired, along with assistant Chris Brown, in the summer.[10] The U.S. finished sixth in the series, and capped off the season by going 6–0 to win the 2015 London Sevens, the first time the U.S. has won a World Series tournament.[11]

The U.S. began the 2015–16 Series by "shocking the world" when it defeated New Zealand for the first time at 2015 Dubai Sevens.[12] The team beat the 12-time World Series champion in pool play and again in the tournament's third-place match[13] before a third victory in as many matches in the 2015 South Africa Sevens Plate Semifinal.[14]

Season by season[edit]

Series Season Final Rank Total Points Events Cups Plates Bowls Shields Leading Try Scorer Leading Points Scorer
1999–2000 18th 0pts 5 0 0 0 0
2000–01 10th 16pts 3 0 1 0 0
2001–02 11th 12pts 7 0 0 1 0
2002–03 19th 1pt 3 0 0 1 0
2003–04 15th 0pts 4 0 0 0 2
2004–05 14th 0pts 2 0 0 0 0
2005–06 15th 0pts 3 0 0 0 0
2006–07 15th 2pts 3 0 0 0 1
2007–08 13th 6pts 6 0 0 0 1 Chris Wyles (26) Chris Wyles (130)
2008–09 11th 24pts 8 0 0 0 3 Kevin Swiryn (20) Kevin Swiryn (100)
2009-10 10th 32pts 8 0 0 1[15] 1 Nick Edwards (17) Nese Malifa (120)
2010-11 12th 10pts 8 0 0 1 2 Zack Test (24) Zack Test (120)
2011-12 11th 41pts 9 0 0 0 0 Zack Test (21) Zack Test (107)
2012–13 11th 71pts 9 0 2 0 0 Nick Edwards (20) Shalom Suniula (101)
2013–14 13th 41pts 9 0 0 0 4 Zack Test (23) Zack Test (119)
2014–15 6th 108pts 9 1 1 2 0 Carlin Isles (32) Madison Hughes (296)
2015–16 7th 49pts 4 0 0 0 0 Perry Baker (16) Madison Hughes (138)
Total - - 100 1 4 6 14 - -

2015–16 World Series[edit]

Leg Date Finish Record
(W-L-D)
Leading Try Scorer Leading Points Scorer Dream Team
selection
Dubai December 2015 3rd 4 – 2 Baker, PerryPerry Baker (5) Baker, PerryPerry Baker (30) Baker, PerryPerry Baker
South Africa December 2015 6th 3 – 3 Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes (5) Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes (59)
New Zealand January 2016 T-7th 2 – 3 Isles, CarlinCarlin Isles (4) Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes (21)
Australia February 2016 T-7th 2 – 3 Baker, PerryPerry Baker (5) Hughes, MadisonMadison Hughes (30)
United States March 2016
Canada March 2016
Hong Kong April 2016
Singapore April 2016
France May 2016
England May 2016

2015–16 leading scorers[edit]

Points

  1. Madison Hughes (138)
  2. Perry Baker (80)
  3. Carlin Isles (70)
  4. Zack Test (35)
  5. Will Holder (27)

Tackles

  1. Zack Test (53)
  2. Madison Hughes (49)
  3. Folau Niua (45)

Updated: February 7, 2016

Rugby World Cup Sevens[edit]

Tournament[16] Host W/L Record Finish
1993 Scotland Scotland 1-4 Knock Out GS
1997 Hong Kong Hong Kong 4-3 Bowl Champion
2001 Argentina Argentina 2-4 Plate Quarter-Final
2005 Hong Kong Hong Kong 2-4 Plate Quarter-Final
2009 United Arab Emirates Dubai 1-3 Plate Quarter-Final
2013 Russia Moscow 1-3 Plate Quarter-Final

Summer Olympics[edit]

1900–1924[edit]

The 15-a-side version of rugby union was contested at four Summer Olympics.

Olympics Host USA Record USA Finish Leading Try Scorer
1900 France Paris, France DNP
1908 England London, England DNP
1920[17] Belgium Antwerp, Belgium 1-0 Gold Joseph Hunter (1)
1924[18] France Paris, France 2-0 Gold Linn Farrish (2)

The United States participated in two of the four rugby tournaments at the Summer Olympics from 1900 to 1924. The United States won two gold medals, making it the most successful country in the history of Olympic rugby. Furthermore, as rugby has not been played at the Olympics since 1924, the United States is the defending Olympic rugby champion, with its back-to-back golds in 1920 and 1924.

2016–[edit]

US Rugby at the Summer Olympics
Olympics Host USA
Record
USA
Finish
Leading
Try Scorer
Leading
Points Scorer
2016 Brazil Rio, Brazil
US Olympic Qualifying
Olympics Qualifying
Date
Qualifying
Venue
USA
Record
Position
2016 June 2015 Raleigh, U.S. 5–0 1st

Rugby will return to the Summer Olympics at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the United States will attempt to defend its title. The U.S. defeated Canada 21–5 in the final of the 2015 NACRA Men's Sevens Championships to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.[19]

World Games[edit]

Games Host U.S. Record U.S. Finish
2001 Japan Akita, Japan[20] DNP
2005 Germany Duisburg, Germany[21] 1–5 7th
2009 Taiwan Kaohsiung, Taiwan[22] 2–4 5th
2013 Colombia Cali, Colombia DNP

Pan American Games[edit]

Year Host Record
(W-L-D)
Finish Leading Try Scorer Leading Points Scorer
2011 Mexico Guadalajara, Mexico 3–2–1 Bronze Maka Unufe (5) Folau Niua (41)
2015 Canada Toronto, Canada 5–1 Bronze Carlin Isles (6) Madison Hughes (31)
2019 Peru Lima, Peru

Head coaches[edit]

Other International Competitions[edit]

Year Event Result
1986 Hong Kong Sevens[23] Plate Champions
1988 Hong Kong Sevens[23] Plate Champions
1994 Hong Kong Sevens[24] Plate Final
2000 Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier – Chile Qualified for RWC 7s
2004 NAWIRA Championship Champions
2006 Bangkok International Rugby Sevens[25] Cup Champions
2006 Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens[26] Cup Quarterfinals
2007 Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens[27] Plate Champions
2008 NAWIRA RWC 7s Qualifier Cup Champions
2010* Digicel Suva Rugby Festival International Sevens[28] Cup Semifinals[29]
2015 NACRA Sevens/Olympic Regional Qualifier Cup Champions

* – Played as the USA Cougars[30]

Honors[edit]

These statistics are sourced from USA Rugby's Database:[31]

Potential for development[edit]

The country's then national team coach, Al Caravelli, explained the U.S. team's potential in a 2008 interview:

An article in The Guardian in 2014 noted that the inclusion of sevens in the Olympics had greatly expanded funding available to the sport, and that the large pool of American football and basketball players who may be unable to earn professional contracts in the NFL and NBA meant there were many sportsmen who had skills and strengths they could transfer to rugby union.[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "USA Rugby to contract Sevens players," November 30, 2011, http://www.irbsevens.com/destination/edition=4/news/newsid=2060731.html#usa+rugby+contract+sevens+players
  2. ^ a b USA Rugby, "Eleven Men's Athletes Ink Full-Time Deals with USA Rugby", January 19, 2012.
  3. ^ USA joins Sevens big guns, http://orange.planet-rugby.com/Story/0,18712,3896_4183664,00.html
  4. ^ IRB, USA Sevens look to build momentum in Glasgow, April 26, 2012, http://www.irbsevens.com/destination/edition=10/news/newsid=2061882.html
  5. ^ a b "Eagles blank Scotland to win Tokyo Plate Final", USA Rugby, March 31, 2013
  6. ^ Eagles defeat Argentina for second consecutive Plate", USA Rugby, May 5, 2013
  7. ^ "Magleby stepping down as Eagles Sevens Head Coach after World Cup", USA Rugby, May 29, 2014
  8. ^ HSBC SEVENS WORLD SERIES XV – BEST PERFORMERS – WS XV (2013–14)
  9. ^ "Hawkins steps down as Men's Eagles Sevens head coach", USA Rugby, June 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "Friday appointed Men's Eagles Sevens Head Coach", USA Rugby, July 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Men's Eagles Sevens end 2014-15 Series with Cup win in London", USA Rugby, May 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "USA rugby sevens team shocks the world, defeats New Zealand", Washington Post, Jake Russell, December 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "U.S. ends Dubai trip with second defeat of New Zealand, third place title", USA Rugby, December 5, 2015.
  14. ^ "U.S. continues roll over New Zealand in Cape Town Plate Semifinal", USA Rugby, December 13, 2015.
  15. ^ "Born in the USA: Sevens captain pops the question". YouTube. 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  16. ^ "RWC Sevens 2009 – Rugby World Cup Sevens History". Rwcsevens.com. 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  17. ^ Sports Reference, Olympic Sports, Rugby at the 1920 Antwerpen Summer Games: Men's Rugby, http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1920/RUG/mens-rugby.html
  18. ^ Rugby at the 1924 Olympics, http://wesclark.com/rrr/1924_olympics_2.html
  19. ^ "Eagles send Canada packing, book trip to Rio de Janeiro", USA Rugby, June 14, 2015.
  20. ^ "Home". Worldgames-iwga.org. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  21. ^ "USA Rugby". USA Rugby. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  22. ^ "World Games Day 2: Fiji cruise to Gold Medal | Ultimate Rugby Sevens – The Online Home for Everything Rugby 7s". Ur7s.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  23. ^ a b Hong Kong Sevens, http://www.hksevens.com/Schedule-PastResults-1980.htm
  24. ^ http://www.hksevens.com/Schedule-PastResults-1990.htm[dead link]
  25. ^ a b "Complete Winners Archive | Bangkok International Rugby Sevens". Bangkoksevens.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  26. ^ [1] Archived July 16, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ [2] Archived November 10, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ [3][dead link]
  29. ^ [4][dead link]
  30. ^ [5][dead link]
  31. ^ USA Rugby, Men's Eagles Database, http://www.usarugby.org/goto/mens_sevens
  32. ^ "Men beat Uruguay, win bronze at Pan American Games", USA Rugby, July 12, 2015
  33. ^ "Eagles send Canada packing, book trip to Rio de Janeiro", USA Rugby, June 14, 2015
  34. ^ "Men's Eagles Sevens end 2014-15 Series with Cup win in London", USA Rugby, May 17, 2015
  35. ^ "Eagles move to sixth in Series standings with Bowl win in Tokyo", USA Rugby, April 5, 2015
  36. ^ "No. 1-ranked Fiji beaten by Eagles in Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Plate Final", USA Rugby, December 14, 2014
  37. ^ "Test earns Dream Team nomination, helps Eagles win Bowl at Gold Coast Sevens", USA Rugby, October 12, 2014
  38. ^ "Eagles defeat Japan, win Shield at Marriott London Sevens", USA Rugby, May 11, 2014
  39. ^ "Spain defeat earns second consecutive Shield for Eagles", USA Rugby, February 8, 2014
  40. ^ "USA Sevens: Day Three", USA Rugby, January 26, 2014
  41. ^ "Eagles take Gold Coast Sevens Shield with 22-0 defeat of Portugal, USA Rugby, October 13, 2013
  42. ^ "Eagles defeat Argentina for second consecutive Plate", USA Rugby, May 5, 2013
  43. ^ Rugby Mag, "Eagles Win Bronze at Pan Ams," October 31, 2011, http://www.rugbymag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2507:eagles-win-bronze-at-pan-ams&catid=39:usa-men&Itemid=194
  44. ^ [6][dead link]
  45. ^ [7][dead link]
  46. ^ [8][dead link]
  47. ^ [9][dead link]
  48. ^ [10][dead link]
  49. ^ "Ngwenya flies in for the Eagles" (Press release). International Rugby Board. February 7, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008. 
  50. ^ Kitson, Robert (March 25, 2014). "Rugby union takes foothold in US with rise of crossover competitors". theguardian.com. Retrieved March 26, 2014.