United States national rugby union team (sevens)
|Most caps||Zack Test (52)|
|Top scorer||Zack Test (601)|
|Most tries||Zack Test (119)|
|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 Sevens World Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Games, 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 7s.
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.
- 1 Players
- 2 Sevens World Series
- 3 Rugby World Cup Sevens
- 4 Summer Olympics
- 5 World Games
- 6 Pan American Games
- 7 Head coaches
- 8 Other International Competitions
- 9 Honors
- 10 Potential for development
- 11 See also
- 12 References
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.
|10||Madison Hughes (c)||22||11||303||21|
Updated: May 8, 2015
Former contracted players
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
The U.S. career leaders in major statistical categories in the Sevens World Series are:
Updated: April 5, 2015
- Active scoring leaders are in bold.
- These figures include only the IRB Sevens World Series, and do not include other events such as the Pan American Games or Rugby World Cup Sevens.
- These statistics from the IRB's Squad Lists are released before each tournament, and consequently do not include statistics from the player's last tournament.
Notable past players
- Todd Clever (2004–2011) – now captain of the national 15s team
- Paul Emerick (2007–2012) – ranked #7 in tries scored for the U.S. when he retired
- Colin Hawley (2010–2013) – member national 15s team
- Jone Naqica (2002–2009) – former USA record holder in sevens for most points in IRB tournaments (400). Former record holder for most caps (29) and for most caps (26) in the IRB Sevens World Series.
- Jovesa Naivalu (1999–2006) – former USA record holder for tries (47) in IRB 7s World Series
- Takudzwa Ngwenya – now a star with the national 15s team and Biarritz in France
- Tommy Smith – won the Leslie Williams Award for skill and spirit at the 1986 Hong Kong Sevens.
- Kevin Swiryn (2008–2012) – leading try scorer and points scorer for the U.S. during the 2008-09 IRB Sevens World Series.
- Mose Timoteo (1999–2006)
- Chris Wyles (2007–2009) – leading try scorer (26) for the U.S. during the 2007-08 IRB Sevens World Series; now also a regular on the national 15s team, as well as Saracens in England
Sevens World Series
The Sevens World 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 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.
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. 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.
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, and followed that feat by again finishing fifth to win the Plate final at the 2013 Scotland Sevens, 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.
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. Hawkins was blamed for the exodus of several veteran players, such as Colin Hawley and Shalom Suniula, and Hawkins was asked to step down at the end of the season.
The U.S. had their best season ever in the 2014–15 Series under head coach Mike Friday. 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.
Season by season
|IRB Season||Final Rank||Total Points||Events||Cups||Plates||Bowls||Shields||Leading Try Scorer||Leading Points Scorer|
|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||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)|
2014–15 World Series
|Leg||Date||Finish||Record (W-L-D)||Leading Try Scorer||Leading Points Scorer||Dream Team selection|
|Australia||October 2014||9th||4 – 2||Zack Test (7)||Zack Test (35)||Zack Test|
|Dubai||December 2014||11th-T||2 – 3||Carlin Isles (5)||Carlin Isles (25)|
|South Africa||December 2014||5th||4 – 2||Carlin Isles (6)||Madison Hughes (41)|
|New Zealand||February 2015||7th-T||2 – 3||Perry Baker (4)||Madison Hughes (32)||Maka Unufe|
|United States||February 2015||4th||3 – 2 – 1||(Multiple) (3)||Madison Hughes (27)||Test, Barrett, Hughes|
|Hong Kong||March 2015||6th||3 – 2 – 1||Zack Test (6)||Madison Hughes (45)||Zack Test|
|Japan||April 2015||9th||4 – 2||Carlin Isles (7)||Carlin Isles (35)||Carlin Isles|
|Scotland||May 2015||4th||3 – 3||Maka Unufe (4)||Madison Hughes (26)||Maka Unufe|
|England||May 2015||1st||6 – 0||Madison Hughes (7)||Madison Hughes (65)||Barrett, Hughes|
2014–15 leading scorers
Updated: May 17, 2015
Rugby World Cup Sevens
|1993||Scotland||1-4||Knock Out GS|
|1997||Hong Kong||4-3||Bowl Champion|
|2005||Hong Kong||2-4||Plate Quarter-Final|
|Olympics||Host||USA Record||USA Finish||Leading Try Scorer|
|1920||Antwerp, Belgium||1-0||Gold||Joseph Hunter (1)|
|1924||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.
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.
Pan American Games
|Finish||Leading Try Scorer||Leading Points Scorer|
|2011||Guadalajara, Mexico||3–2–1||Bronze||Maka Unufe (5)||Folau Niua (41)|
|2015||Toronto, Canada||5–1||Bronze||Carlin Isles (6)||Madison Hughes (31)|
- Mike Friday (2014—present)
- Matt Hawkins (2013–2014)
- Alexander Magleby (2012–2013)
- Al Caravelli (2006–2012)
Other International Competitions
|1986||Hong Kong Sevens||Plate Champions|
|1988||Hong Kong Sevens||Plate Champions|
|1994||Hong Kong Sevens||Plate Final|
|2000||Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier – Chile||Qualified for RWC 7s|
|2006||Bangkok International Rugby Sevens||Cup Champions|
|2006||Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens||Cup Quarterfinals|
|2007||Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens||Plate Champions|
|2008||NAWIRA RWC 7s Qualifier||Cup Champions|
|2010*||Digicel Suva Rugby Festival International Sevens||Cup Semifinals|
|2012||NACRA Sevens/RWC 7s Regional Qualifier||Qualified for RWC 7s|
* – Played as the USA Cougars
These statistics are sourced from USA Rugby's Database:
Potential for development
The country's then national team coach, Al Caravelli, explained the U.S. team's potential in a 2008 interview:
|“||When we train at the Olympic training center they have a big database where an athlete can type in 'I run the 100 meters in 10.2 seconds but I didn't qualify for the Olympics, I weigh this much. What other sports can I play?' I've found over a thousand athletes that can run 10.2 seconds at one hundred meters and weigh over 200 pounds [91 kg]. I don't know if they can catch and pass yet but if they can see the atmosphere at a Wellington, a Dubai or a Hong Kong Sevens, and we can attract those types of athletes then we can continue to promote the sport in the United States.||”|
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.
- USA Rugby
- United States national rugby union team
- United States national under-20 rugby union team
- IRB Sevens World Series
- Rugby World Cup Sevens
- Rugby union at the World Games
- Rugby Sevens at the Pan American Games
- Rugby union in the United States
- "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
- USA Rugby, "Eleven Men's Athletes Ink Full-Time Deals with USA Rugby", January 19, 2012.
- RugbyMag, Eagles 7s Need Players, September 2, 2013, http://www.rugbymag.com/usa-sevens-men/9184-eagles-7s-need-players.html
- Rugby Mag, "Hawkins Set for Record-Setting Day," December 8, 2011, http://www.rugbymag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2901:hawkins-set-for-record-setting-day&catid=45:usa-sevens-men&Itemid=202
- Rugby7.com, Leslie Williams Award, "Leslie Williams Award". Retrieved 2011-12-21.
- USA joins Sevens big guns, http://orange.planet-rugby.com/Story/0,18712,3896_4183664,00.html
- IRB, USA Sevens look to build momentum in Glasgow, April 26, 2012, http://www.irbsevens.com/destination/edition=10/news/newsid=2061882.html
- Rugby Mag, USA Wins Plate in Tokyo, March 31, 2013, http://www.rugbymag.com/usa-sevens-men/7596-usa-wins-plate-in-tokyo.html
- HSBC SEVENS WORLD SERIES XV – BEST PERFORMERS – WS XV (2013–14)
- "New Coach for 7s Eagles – Part I", Goff Rugby Report, June 30, 2014.
- "USA make history at Twickenham with first World Rugby Series tournament win", ESPN, Tom Hamilton, May 17, 2015.
- "Born in the USA: Sevens captain pops the question". YouTube. 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- "RWC Sevens 2009 – Rugby World Cup Sevens History". Rwcsevens.com. 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- 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
- Rugby at the 1924 Olympics, http://wesclark.com/rrr/1924_olympics_2.html
- "USA Teams Book their Places in Olympic Games", Goff Rugby Report, June 14, 2015.
- "Home". Worldgames-iwga.org. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- "USA Rugby". USA Rugby. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- "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.
- Hong Kong Sevens, http://www.hksevens.com/Schedule-PastResults-1980.htm
- http://www.hksevens.com/Schedule-PastResults-1990.htm[dead link]
- "Complete Winners Archive | Bangkok International Rugby Sevens". Bangkoksevens.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
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- Rugby Mag, Canada Edges USA in Men NACRA 7s FInal, August 26, 2012, http://www.rugbymag.com/usa-sevens-men/5625-canada-edges-usa-in-men-nacra-7s-final.html
- [dead link]
- USA Rugby, Men's Eagles Database, http://www.usarugby.org/goto/mens_sevens
- 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
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- "Ngwenya flies in for the Eagles" (Press release). International Rugby Board. February 7, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
- Kitson, Robert (March 25, 2014). "Rugby union takes foothold in US with rise of crossover competitors". theguardian.com. Retrieved March 26, 2014.