USA Men’s Sevens Preview: Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

USA still holds a No. 1 position with a seven point lead in the World Series standings

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UPDATE 4/3 Match-day roster updated below. 

HONG KONG – After winning five consecutive medals and taking fourth-place in Vancouver, the No. 1 Men’s Eagles Sevens will compete in the seventh-round of their Olympic qualifying season at Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens April 5-7. Matches will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN Networks

This Series Last Stop (Canada Sevens 2019)

With four Silver medals and a highly-coveted Gold from their home stop in Vegas, the Eagles Sevens’ streak of medal-winning finishes came to a close at HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

The squad — still ranked No. 1 in the world — opened the tournament in blistering form, with a 40-14 victory over Wales before challenges arose in their next match with Chile. The Chileans took an unprecedented 12 point lead at halftime, forcing the USA to bounce back with both a second-half shutout and scoring spree to win, 33-19. And though they escaped one upset, South Africa proved too formidable in the final match of pool play; dominating the game with a monopoly on possession that led to a 7-19 loss for America.

Still qualified for the Cup Quarterfinals, the Eagles Sevens rocked B.C. Place Stadium when they rallied from a 19 point deficit to defeat England and make the Cup Semifinals. There, a hot streak for France sent the side hissing to a 5-33 win and the Americans were dropped to the Bronze Final against Fiji.

The Fijians snatched the hardware 14-24 with a classic display of merciless offloads which put an end to the United States’ mesmerizing run of podium finishes. While they didn’t medal, the USA men still increased their position in the standings with a 7-point lead on No. 2 New Zealand.


Who to Watch

Head Coach Mike Friday has named a traveling group of 15 players who will all be available for selection to the final match-day 12. Starting rosters will be announced closer to tournament start.

Perry Baker will both remain out of Hong Kong Sevens, still recovering from injuries sustained this season. Baker has been out since HSBC New Zealand Sevens while Barrett was injured towards the end of HSBC USA Sevens earlier this month. Both hope to return for the final two legs of the season at HSBC London or Paris Sevens.

Carlin IslesCaptain Madison Hughes remain atop the stats table with Isles the top try scorer (32 tries) and Hughes the top overall points scorer (198 points) this season. Stephen Tomasin has continued to stand out as well, earning his third Dream Team nomination of the season in Vancouver and currently sitting fifth in most tries scored (21 tries).

Cody Melphy are both selected to travel after winning the Men’s Elite Sevens title with the Falcons at the Las Vegas Invitational. If selected to the final 12, this will be the first senior team appearance for Melphy this season. Blair jumped off the bench as an injury reserve in both Sydney and Hamilton to help the Eagles Sevens win silver.


The Competition

First up in Pool D will be 11th ranked Spain who last faced the Eagles Sevens in Sydney and suffered a 38-10 loss in the Cup Quarterfinals. Wales — currently 13th in the standings — will be up next and anxious to rectify their opening loss to the Americans last tournament. The USA will close out pool play with a matchup against fifth-ranked England who have become somewhat of a notable rival as the 2019 season has progressed. England and the United States have met four times this season with the Americans coming away with all four hard-fought victories. Knockout rounds for Pool D begin as early as 9:30 PM ET on Saturday, April 6. All matches are broadcast LIVE on various ESPN Networks


Hear it from Head Coach Mike Friday

On where we are are at this point in the season“We are where we want to be at this point in the season, which is in control of our own destiny in trying to achieve automatic Olympic qualification and breaking new ground finishing in the Top 4. We set high standards for ourselves on and off the pitch and are always working hard for one another. It’s a key trait in our DNA we need to maintain and excel at. We must stay hungry and show humility every time we take the pitch and enjoy each and every opportunity we are given to represent the USA.”

On the competition in pool play“We are in a very tricky pool once again with a dangerous Wales team who have strike runners throughout their squad, should they be able to control possession for sustained periods.

“Spain are probably the most improved team on the circuit and are both resilient in their play and relentless as they showed in Vancouver against New Zealand. They are a very dangerous team not to be taken likely.

“England are hugely competitive and all our games this season have grown hugely competitive and always come down to the smallest of margins. They have so much experience guile — as well as pace — which makes them immensely tough to play against and a team we have huge respect for with their ‘never say die’ attitude.”


To Sum it Up

The Men’s Eagles Sevens still hold their No. 1 placing with four stops remaining in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. After five consecutive medal-winning finishes and a difficult tournament in Canada, the United States has had time to rest, recover and recharge for the final stretch. Sitting seven points ahead of second-place New Zealand (106 pts), 12 points ahead of third-place Fiji (101 pts) and 24 points in front of fourth-place South Africa, it is more critical than ever to remain consistent in the final stages of an Olympic qualifying season. The top four teams at the end of the final stop will automatically book their ticket for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.


Men’s Eagles Sevens Traveling Roster

*Match-day 12 to be named closer to competition. 

Player Position HSBC Tournaments
Pat Blair Hooker 13
Ben Broselle Wing/Prop 1
Maceo Brown Center 6
Madison Hughes (C) Halfback 43
Martin Iosefo Center 39
Carlin Isles Wing 47
Matai Leuta Prop 32
Cody Melphy Halfback 3
Folau Niua Halfback 65
Ben Pinkelman Prop/Hooker 29
Joe Schroeder Prop 6
Brett Thompson Prop 29
Stephen Tomasin Hooker 27
Marcus Tupuola Wing 2
Kevon Williams Halfback/Wing 17

Match-day roster (confirmed Apr 3)

1. Carlin Isles, 2. Ben Pinkelman, 3. Joe Schroeder, 4. Matai Leuta, 5. Brett Thompson, 6. Kevon Williams, 7. Folau Niua, 8. Maceo Brown, 9. Stephen Tomasin, 10. Madison Hughes, 11. Marcus Tupuola, 12. Martin Iosefo, 13. Ben Broselle. 

Men’s Eagles Sevens Staff

Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | Phil Greening
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Jon Hood
Athletic Trainer | Brian Green
Team Manager | Scott Novack

Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Schedule

Pool D | Broadcast LIVE on ESPN Networks

vs Spain | Friday, Apr 5 – 6:53 AM ET
vs Wales | Saturday, Apr 6 – 12:25 AM ET
vs England | Saturday, Apr 6 – 4:08 AM ET

Knockout rounds for Pool D begin as early as Saturday, Apr 6 at 9:30 PM ET.

Top 5 Placings

(following HSBC Canada Sevens 2019)

Category Position
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Standing 1st (113 points)
Most Points Scored by a Team 3rd (836 points)
Most Tries Scored by a Team 3rd (135 points)
Most Restarts by a Team 5th (138 restarts)
Most Points Scored by a Player 1st, Madison Hughes (198 points) 4th, Carlin Isles (160 points)
Most Tries Scored by a Player 1st, Carlin Isles (32 tries) 5th, Stephen Tomasin (21 tries)
Most Restarts by a Player 2nd, Folau Niua (110 restarts)

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