Falcons to face Argentina, Canada, South Africa in South America
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina - The USA Falcons development side - made up of 12 Men's Eagles Sevens pool players - traveled to South America Monday for international sevens tournaments the weekends of Jan. 9-10 and 16-17.
The U.S. Army's World-Class Athlete Program's Andrew Locke will coach the team at Seven de Mar del Plata (Argentina) and Seven de Viña del Mar (Chile) against developmental sides from fellow HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core nations such as Argentina, Canada, and South Africa. The Falcons kick off their South American tour at Parque Camet Saturday, Jan. 9, at 12:50 p.m. ET.
Capped Eagle Mike Te'o, who won the 2012 World Rugby U20 Trophy with the USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-Americans, is the only player in the squad that competed in the 2015 editions of the tournaments. Aladdin Schirmer, another former MJAA and USA Rugby AIG Men's Collegiate All-American, is the other capped Eagle with the team.
The Eagles sit third in the 2015-16 Series standings after third- and sixth-place finishes at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and HSBC Cape Town Sevens, their highest-ever ranking on the circuit. Head Coach Mike Friday utilized 14 players over the course of the two opening weekends, and will count on Locke to push a few more into contention for selection as the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games draw closer.
"The focus is absolutely on getting the systems correct," the tour coach said. "All of these guys have played within our systems before at Camp, and we have three guys who will be playing at this level for the first time. We will have four training sessions on the ground together and the focus will be roles and pattern.
"As the new year strikes 2016, we all know what looms eight months from now. I'm expecting the desire and attitude to be on point; we'll just need to work on the execution and team cohesion."
Half of the team - Alex Faison-Donahoe, Seth Halliman, Tua Laei, Peter Malcolm, ConRoy Smith, and Joey Sok - represented the Falcons at the inaugural Halloween Rugby 7s invitational tournament alongside a USA Hawks team predominantly featuring capped Eagles. In the tournament's third-place match, the Hawks defeated the Falcons by just a single try.
Jope Motokana has previously been unavailable for multiple Men's Eagles Sevens High Performance Camps, but continued to impress the coaching staff of Friday and Assistant Coach Chris Brown on the club circuit with Seattle Saracens, the 2015 USA Rugby Club 7s National Champions. The scrum half will miss this weekend's tournament in Argentina before joining the team in Chile.
Kingsley McGowan has been plying his trade with Trinity College in Dublin after winning two D1A Rugby National Championships and earning selections to the MCAAs and MJAAs during his time at Saint Mary's College. Faison-Donahoe, Malcolm, and Anthony Welmers will end their holiday breaks in South America before their D1A seasons resume at Kutztown University, Wheeling Jesuit University, and Davenport University, respectively.
The Falcons are in Seven de Mar del Plata's Pool B with Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, with Canada, Paraguay, South Africa, and Uruguay in Pool A. In Argentina, the Falcons will play Argentina, Canada, and South Africa in pool play the following weekend. Following the tournament in Chile, the team will return to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as the Eagles finish their Camp ahead of the HSBC Wellington Sevens and HSBC Sydney Sevens Series stops.
USA Falcons | 2016 South America Tour
Aaron Davis - Columbus Rugby Club / Tiger Rugby
Alex Faison-Donahoe - Kutztown University
Seth Halliman - Central Washington University / Men's Eagles Sevens
Tua Laei - Brigham Young University / Rugby Utah
Peter Malcolm - Wheeling Jesuit University
Kingsley McGowan - Trinity College
Jope Motokana - Seattle Saracens / ATAVUS Academy
Aladdin Schirmer - Central Washington University
ConRoy Smith - Northern Virginia Rugby Club
Joey Sok - Columbus Rugby Club / Men's Eagles Sevens
Mike Te'o - Men's Eagles Sevens
Anthony Welmers - Davenport University
USA Falcons | Coaching Staff
Andrew Locke - Coach
Brian Finn - Physiotherapist
Sean Lindersmith - Manager
USA Falcons | Seven de Mar del Plata
v. Chile - Saturday, Jan. 9 - 12:50 p.m. ET
v. Brazil - Saturday, Jan. 9 - 4:30 p.m. ET
v. Argentina - Saturday, Jan. 9 - 6:35 p.m. ET
USA Falcons | Seven de Viña del Mar
v. Argentina - Saturday, Jan. 16 - 12:20 p.m. ET
v. South Africa - Saturday, Jan. 16 - 2:40 p.m. ET
v. Canada - Saturday, Jan. 16 - 5:50 p.m. ET