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Eagle Men, Women Back To Shine In NZ 7s

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Eagle Men, Women Back To Shine In NZ 7s

Ben Pinkelman is back. David Barpal photo.

The World Sevens Series is back with the Hamilton 7s and another change in the format.

Instead of sending the top two teams from each pool to the quarterfinals, only the pool winners will go on to the Cup Semis.

Changing the formats—earlier the new plan had teams that lost in the quarterfinals get no more games—is so men and women can fit in the same venue at the same time.

USA Men's 7s star Ben Pinkelman in the interview below said the players "hate the new format. It totally changes the dynamic of a sevens tournament and the way you go about pool play."

Ben Pinkelman Back For USA Sevens Team from Goff Rugby Report on Vimeo. (if you don't see the video, refresh the page)

Still, the Eagles have Pinkelman back, and he is one of the best in the world at winning rucks and securing possession.

“We have hugely reflected as a group since returning to training at the start of 2020," said USA Men's Head Coach Mike Friday. "We were unhappy with some of our moments in the first two legs which were in our control and we continue to work hard as a group to be better at taking those moments. On pitch we have had a huge focus on our basics where we felt our pass and catch let us down together with the fundamentals of our lineout and kick off execution. Physically we still have a lot more to give and impose in terms of speed and power as well as repeated effort."

Go to https://lasevensrugby.com/ to buy tickets now.

Along with Pinkelman, the Eagles have most of the familiar faces for Hamilton, including the other player from the 15s World Cup, Martin Iosefo. Here is the squad with US college rugby team where appropriate:

1. Carlin Isles, 2. Ben Pinkelman (Colorado State), 3. Danny Barrett (Cal), 4. Matai Leuta (Monterrey Peninsula College), 5. Naima Fua'laau (Life West), 6. Kevon Williams (New Mexico Highlands), 7. Ben Broselle (UCLA), 8. Maka Unufe, 9. Stephen Tomasin (San Diego State), 10. Madison Hughes (Dartmouth), 11. Perry Baker, 12. Martin Iosefo (Montana), 13. Marcus Tupuola (Notre Dame College) 

“It’s great for the squad to have Martin and Ben rested and now sevens ready for these two legs and their ability and experience will be a huge positive to the squad. This is going to be another extremely difficult group to progress from due to the enforced changes to format which means we have to win our pool,” said Friday.


Women Look To Rise

The USA Women are 3rd in the World Series and hope to return to the podium after a somewhat unlucky 5th in Cape Town. Cheta Emba is, interestingly, an injury reserve after looking so strong in the first three tournaments.

"We are very excited to be heading to New Zealand. To be able to get back out there and make a quality statement in a few components of play we haven't been pleased with, is important. And, of course, to continue the progression we've made in other areas," said Head Coach Chris Brown. "Throughout this season, trying to select the final traveling roster has continued to get harder; and while it is a positive for how we challenge and enhance what we do daily, it does make a number of conversations so much tougher. Still, this is a key component we need within our environment to truly hit the standards of play we aim for."

USA Roster:

1. Stephanie Rovetti, 2. Ilona Maher, 3. Abby Gustaitis, 4. Nicole Heavirland, 5. Alev Kelter, 6. Lauren Doyle, 7. Naya Tapper, 8. Jordan Matyas, 9. Eti Haungatau, 10. Kayla Canett, 11. Kris Thomas, 12. Kristi Kirshe, 13. Cheta Emba (IR), 14. Nana Fa'avesi (IR)