Credit: USA Rugby
Silver for USA Rugby Men's Sevens team
The Team USA Men's Eagles Sevens have claimed their highest-ever finish in Dubai with a silver medal at Dubai Sevens 2018. In a fiercely contested battle against recent World Cup Champion New Zealand, the United States were overcome by a resilient opposing side that notched a 21-5 victory in the Cup Final.
While the loss is disappointing, the Eagles Sevens have still achieved a meaningful result by opening their Olympic qualifying year ranked second in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019. The result puts them in a powerful position to conclude the overall season in the Top 4 for the first time in history, which would also earn them automatic qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Overall, the Men's Eagles Sevens displayed bright performances throughout the two days of competition. After placing 16th at the conclusion of last year's opening tournament, the United States followed a 2-1 finish in pool play with victories over 2016 Olympic Champion Fiji -- as well as Australia
-- to secure a matchup with the World Cup Champion and a podium finish.
The U.S. side will now travel to Cape Town for the second stop of the season at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens 2018 taking place Dec. 8-9 local time. Drawn in Pool B, the Men's Sevens will face Argentina, Spain and Japan before taking another run at a gold medal finish.
FROM THE HEAD COACH, MIKE FRIDAY : “As a group we are really disappointed we didn’t get the win. We feel we need to grasp these moments and as we talked about after the final ‘you never win a silver only lose a gold’. We are positive for the next challenge and will dust ourselves off, recover and reset to get ready for what will be another very tough assignment in Cape Town”.
“The season is underway and after what has been a tough pre season -- littered with some unnecessary distractions -- we have adjusted to changes in our approach together, with subtle evolutions to some of our play both sides of the ball. We have gelled well as a new coaching dynamic with the introduction of new Assistant Coach Rocky Roques and I think the boys have responded well in what we have challenged them. The early signs are good if we can continue to grow as a group and program.”
USA STANDOUT PERFORMANCES : Perry Baker - World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year 2018
After earning his second consecutive World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year honors, 2016 Olympian Perry Baker torched the field at Dubai Sevens 2018, scoring six tries within six matches contested. Baker’s high scoring earned him a place amongst the top try scorers of the entire event -- tied for the No. 1 position.
Stephen Tomasin - Surpassed his 50 career try mark
After battling injury for much of last season -- including the USA’s gold medal finish at their home tournament in Las Vegas -- Stephen Tomasin surpassed his 50 try mark in Dubai. The athlete scored twice in the tournament including the only United States score in the Cup Final against World Cup Champion New Zealand.
Danny Barrett - Scored on the final play to lift USA to their first ever Dubai Sevens Cup Final
2016 Rio Olympian Danny Barrett scored a heroic try on the final play in the United States’ Semifinal matchup with Australia. With no time left, Barrett took a pass from teammate Folau Niua and quickly dashed past defenders to dive over the tryline and lift the USA men to their first ever Cup Final at Dubai Sevens.
OLYMPIC QUALIFYING IMPLICATIONS
The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens have never finished in the Top 4 at the conclusion of a season. Last year, they finished five rankings points short of reaching that benchmark after a winless result at Dubai Sevens 2017 set them behind. Now with a second-place standing -- more than ten places higher then where they started in 2017 -- the Team USA men have a steadfast lead to reach their goal of making history.