Men's Eagles Sevens: 2018 London Sevens Preview

Captain Madison Hughes and Folau Niua return to a stop with a history of successes

LAFAYETTE, CO. - The fifth-ranked Men's Eagles Sevens will begin the ninth stop of the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series at London Sevens on Saturday, June 2nd. In a place where they've earned historic success, winning their first-ever championship in 2015, taking Bronze in 2016 and falling just shy of a medal finish (4th) at the 2017 London stop, USA will be encouraged to reach the podium on their journey to end the season in the Top 4. Watch the tournament LIVE on ESPN+.

THIS SERIES LAST STOP

The United States opened their 2018 Singapore Sevens campaign with a promising 33-12 victory over France, showcasing patient play and a convincingly sharp attack. Though the start was strong, challenges presented themselves in a close 14-19 loss to England that saw Perry Baker sustain a tournament-ending injury. Facing Kenya in their final match of pool play, needing a win to earn a berth in the Cup Quarterfinals, the team suffered a 14-33 defeat which pushed them to the Challenge Trophy track.

When they returned for Day Two, the Men's Sevens were unstoppable. Boasting wins over Argentina (36-12), Scotland (33-12) and rival-Canada (26-12) the U.S. secured their second Challenge Trophy of the season, propelling themselves to their overall 5th place standing.

Though it wasn't the result they desired, knowing a podium finish was well within their midsts, the United States rectified their Day One mistakes and ensured their fighting chance at a historic Top 4 finish ahead of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 this July.

WHO TO WATCH

Following an injury sustained at Sydney Sevens that forced him to miss the past five Series stops, Captain Madison Hughes will make his official return to the pitch in London. Sporting 53 total points in three tournament stops, Hughes' return will be an immeasurable asset to the Eagles.

Joining Hughes on the return from injury is Folau Niau who was missed in Singapore and now returns a critical piece to the squad's dynamic heading into London. An undoubted playmaker for the team, Niua owns 136 total points on the season.

Sporting a signature red bandanna, speedster Carlin Isles raced past the tryline to secure two consecutive hat tricks and finish Singapore Sevens as the tournament's number one try scorer (8 tries). It goes without saying that fans at Twickenham Stadium will need to keep their eyes peeled to see what kind of lighting fast magic Isles will have in store next time he takes the pitch.

THE COMPETITION

Drawn in Pool C with the same opponents they faced in Singapore, the United States will kick off the 2018 London Sevens tournament against sixth ranked Kenya at 6:42 AM ET (Sat, June 2). Currently tied in overall series points (93) with only a points differential between them, the matchup will surely convey a uniquely competitive energy.

Eighth ranked home team England who took the Bronze in Singapore will be up next, giving the Eagles an opportunity to redeem their heartbreaking loss to the English last time both met. 12th ranked France will close out pool play as the team looking to shock the world focuses on another brilliant finish.

HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH, MIKE FRIDAY

On the return of Captain Madison Hughes and Folau Niua...
"It's great to see Madison and Folau back from injury as both have been working hard to get ready for this tournament and excited to get back out there with the boys."

On the status of Perry Baker and Maka Unufe ...
"Maka and Perry were not considered for selection and will continue to concentrate on preparing to compete for a spot at Rugby World Cup Sevens time."

On competition in Pool Play...
"England are at home and will be exceptionally hard to beat in their element. Kenya have been a form team these last few months and are confident and hugely physical. France will be back to full strength and are a big physical team, as well."

HEAR IT FROM THE CAPTAIN, MADISON HUGHES

"I'm really excited to be back with you guys on tour. Injuries are frustrating but a part of our game. I can't wait to be back out there and to try and help continue the outstanding run our team has been on." 

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS ROSTER | 2018 LONDON SEVENS

1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Brett Thompson
6. Malon Al-Jiboori
7. Folau Niua
8. Chris Mattina
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Kevon Williams
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Faitala Talapusi

MEN'S EAGLES STAFF | 2018 LONDON SEVENS

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

MEN'S EAGLES SCHEDULE | 2018 LONDON SEVENS

v. Kenya | Sat, June 2 - 6:42 AM ET
v. England | Sat, June 2 - 10:10 AM ET
v. France | Sat, June 2 - 12:54 PM ET 

Live on ESPN+

WHERE WE STAND

HSBC World Series Standing5th place (93pts) 
Most Points by a TeamUSA, 5th (446)
Most Conversions by a TeamUSA, 4th (48)
Most Points by a PlayerPerry Baker, 5th (187)
Most Tries by a PlayerPerry Baker, 1st (37)
Carlin Isles, 2nd (35)
Most Conversions by a PlayerFolau Niua, 5th (53)
Most Tackles Made by a PlayerBen Pinkelman, 4th (104)

TO SUM IT UP

The Men's Eagles Sevens have a history of success at the London Sevens stop of the HSBC World Sevens Series. They took Gold in 2015, finished with Bronze in 2016 and fell just shy of another podium finish in 2017. Still with a chance to finish the season in the Top 4, the United States charts on to Twickenham Stadium with every intention of exceeding the world's expectations.

The 2018 London Sevens Tournament begins Sat, June 2 with the Eagles' first match against Kenya at 6:42 AM ET, LIVE on ESPN+. Updates will be available by following @USARugby on Twitter.