Men’s Eagles Sevens: 2018 Paris Sevens Preview

Fifth-ranked Eagles begin season finale within 13 points of cracking Top Four

LAFAYETTE, CO. - The fifth-ranked Men's Eagles Sevens will begin the final stop of the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series this Saturday, June 9 at Paris Sevens. Currently 13 points behind fourth-place Australia after finishing sixth at Paris sevens, the squad has one last chance to deliver a compelling performance ahead of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco this July 20-22. Paris Sevens will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN+.

THIS SERIES LAST STOP

A strong performance on Day One allowed the United States to finish at the top of Pool C and punch their ticket to the Cup Quarterfinals. The team on fire -- as fans at London Sevens could have easily described -- drew with Kenya (19-19) to start pool play before soaring to victories over home team England (31-14) and France (38-14).

But it was on Day Two that the Eagles experienced challenges which determined their sixth place finish. A devastating 12-22 loss to Ireland in the Cup Quarterfinals pushed the U.S. to the 5th Place Semifinal where they overcame rival-Canada 27-19 but ultimately fell to New Zealand (5-26).

Leaving London with 12 points toward their overall Series standing, the Men's Sevens will head into Paris Sevens with every intention of making a strong statement as the season closes. 

WHO TO WATCH

Following an ankle injury sustained in London, Matai Leuta has traveled home and Alex Schwarz joins the team in his stead. Schwarz debuted last year at the 2017 Paris Sevens tournament and will join the squad on the Sevens series circuit for the first time this season. Whether Schwarz will serve as the 13th man or part of the starting 12 will be determined closer to tournament start. 

Martin Iosefo, named a DHL Impact Player from his performance in London, scored his 50th career try last week and continues to climb up the points chart with the 108 he currently owns this season. Along with Iosefo, Kevon Williams continues to breakout himself. Williams scored three tries last week and currently stands at 65 points on the season.

AS a support to racking up points, the critical role of putting players in a position to breakaway and score shines brightly with Captain Madison Hughes. Hughes made his anticipated return during London Sevens and polished his individual performance with accurate kicking and pinpoint precision when feeding the ball across the attacking line.

Speedster Carlin Isles -- another try scoring machine -- will also return to the bunch following completion of Head Injury Assessment protocol set in motion during the Eagles' final match against New Zealand last week.

THE COMPETITION

The U.S. will kickoff Day One of Paris Sevens against eighth-place Argentina whom the Eagles have faced eight times so far this season. Of those eight meetings, each team has walked away with four wins giving Saturday's encounter a unique element of competition. Home team France who sit in 12th place in the Series will be up next, followed by sixth-ranked England who are only two points behind USA in the overall rankings.

HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH, MIKE FRIDAY

On focus going into Paris...
"We know where we sit in the World Series Standings and our focus is to compete and look to chase down Australia in 4th place. Whilst whether we can achieve that is not within our control, chasing the Cup and securing 5th is, albeit a huge task."

On challenges this season...
"We've had a season of injuries like no other which has stretched and stressed the squad. In this adversity, we have seen a number of players step in and step up, growing our depth, as well as encouraging players within the team to have the flexibility and confidence to play multiple roles. This will stand us in good stead and credit to the boys for the challenges they have embraced over this last season."

On many injuries this season...
"It's been the theme of our season that we've been in some tough groups and this is no exception. We are more than capable of progressing, although a hugely physical Argentina who nearly toppled Fiji in game one last week, hugely competitive and competent England team, along with France at home means we cannot afford any of the bubbles of concentration and application we suffered from last week."

WHERE WE STAND

HSBC World Series Standing5th place (105pts)
Most Points by a TeamUSA, 3rd (1194)
Most Tries by a TeamUSA, 5th (188)
Most Conversions by a TeamUSA, 3rd (127)
Most Points by a PlayerCarlin Isles, 4th (217)
Most Tries by a PlayerCarlin Isles, 1st (43)
Perry Baker, 3rd (37)
Most Tackles Made by a PlayerBen Pinkelman, 4th (113)

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS ROSTER | 2018 PARIS SEVENS

Danny Barrett | 87pts
Madison Hughes (C) | 78pts 
Martin Iosefo | 108pts
Carlin Isles | 217pts
Malon Al-Jiboori | 10pts 
Chris Mattina | 0pts
Folau Niua | 141pts
Ben Pinkelman | 55pts
Alex Schwarz | 0pts 
Faitala Talapusi | 0pts
Brett Thompson | 15pts
Stephen Tomasin | 123pts
Kevon Williams | 65pts

*Numbers reflect total points scored (tries + conversions) thus far in the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series 

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS STAFF | 2018 PARIS 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 SEVENS SCHEDULE | 2018 PARIS SEVENS

v. Argentina | Sat, June 9 - 5:12 AM ET
v. France | Sat, June 9 - 8:08 AM ET
v. England | Sat, June 9 - 1:58 PM ET

Live on ESPN+

TO SUM IT UP

The Men's Eagles Sevens currently sit in fifth-place in the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series, 13 points behind fourth-place Australia. The 2018 Paris Sevens tournament serves as the final Stop of the season before the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks off in San Francisco this July 20-22. Head Coach Mike Friday and his team will face another huge challenge against Argentina, France and England as they aim to close the season with another Cup. The final 12 man starting lineup will be determined later this week. 

Paris Sevens begins Saturday, June 9th at 5:12 AM ET, LIVE on ESPN+.