Final Series stop will be ‘true test’ for Eagles

LONDON, England - USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Alex Magleby has made one change to his squad ahead of the 9th and final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, which takes place at Twickenham on May 11-12.

Sione Pila Taufa will replace the injured Jack Halalilo.

“Jack has been working very hard, but he bumped his knee during training this week. He is going to be OK, but as a precaution we have Pila who will replace him. We’re been waiting to get Pila some time, and this is an opportunity for him to get his first cap. We’re looking forward to him developing as well,” explained Magleby.

The Eagles - after a slow start to the season - have won back-to-back Plate championships, placing 5th at the Tokyo and Glasgow tournaments. Last weekend’s finish in Scotland was extremely important as the Eagles avoided the relegation playoffs, securing the 12th spot on the IRB Sevens World Series. In so doing, the United States pushed Scotland into 13th in the Marriott London Sevens tournament and thus into the 8-team relegation playoff competition which also includes Georgia, Hong Kong, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Tonga and Zimbabwe. The top three teams from the relegation playoffs will join the 12 core teams for the 2013-14 HSBC Sevens World Series.

This new format is in line with the comprehensive IRB Sevens Plan that was developed in partnership with the IRB's Member Unions and approved by the IRB Council last November. It reflects the IRB's mission to deliver a pathway that ensures all Member Unions have a transparent and merit-based opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016.

Consistency will now be more important than ever as so many countries aggressively invest in their Sevens programs.

“If you look overall at the season our goal was to build-up as we went through the various tournaments. In the first four events we were ranked around 12th. The next four we were around 6th, and the last two we were in the top three behind New Zealand and South Africa in terms of points,” explained Magleby. “We obviously want to keep carrying that momentum forward. We felt that there was a lot of things last weekend in Glasgow that we had control of, but didn’t execute well, so we’re looking to improve on those items.”

Matt Hawkins will lead the team again, taking part in his 37th tournament. The forwards include Andrew Durutalo, Colin Hawley, Blaine Scully, Taufa, Zach Test and Brett Thompson. Test has shown tremendous form in recent events and was named to the Sevens World Series Dream Team for both the Tokyo and Glasgow tournaments. Watch his interview ahead of the Marriott London Sevens here.

The backs consist of Nick Edwards, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua and the most capped Sevens Eagle, Shalom Suniula.

“It’s been amazing to see the team grow and play with maturity, especially the last two tournaments. And, on top of that the squad played some very good rugby. We have a great program, players and coaches included, but we need to show that--the only way to do that is by winning. Now this weekend there is no pressure on us, and the true test will see how we respond,” said captain Hawkins.

The USA are in Pool A with last weekend’s champions, South Africa, as well as Australia and France. New Zealand have already secured their 11th World Series title, while the rest of the teams look to climb up the final points ladder. The Eagles currently have 59 points behind Canada (64), Australia (70), Argentina (74) and England (75).

The famous Twickenham Stadium is expecting 110,000 people over the weekend, with Saturday seeing 72,000, breaking the attendance record for a single day. The Women’s Invitational London Sevens brings the total to 28 international rugby teams that will be on display during the weekend.

Follow live updates on Twitter from the official USA Rugby account (@USARugby) and read game recaps Join the conversation using #London7s.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | London Sevens
Andrew Durutalo (*12)
Nick Edwards (*19)   
Matt Hawkins (*36)
Colin Hawley (*26)  
Luke Hume (*7)  
Carlin Isles (*8)
Folau Niua (*15)
Blaine Scully (*6)   
Shalom Suniula (*39)
Sione Pila Taufa (*0)
Zach Test (*35)    
Brett Thompson (*6)
*World Series Tournaments 

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Staff
Alex Magleby (Head Coach)
Andy Katoa (Manager)
Brian Green (Physio)
Hamish Kerr (Doctor)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | London Schedule
vs. France – 4:30 A.M. ET Saturday, May 11
vs. Australia – 9:02 A.M. ET Saturday, May 11
vs. South Africa – 11:02 A.M. ET Saturday, May 11

Men’s Eagles Sevens | London Pools
Pool A: South Africa, USA, Australia, France
Pool B: New Zealand, Wales, Canada, Kenya
Pool C: England, Argentina, Fiji, Samoa