Men’s Eagles Sevens: Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Preview

Head Coach Mike Friday selects extended 14-player traveling roster with starting 12 named closer to competition

CHULA VISTA, CA. - Following their sixth-place finish at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, the Men's Eagles Sevens will begin their Olympic qualifying year at the first stop of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 at Dubai Sevens, Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Last Time on the Pitch

The Men's Eagles Sevens last took the pitch in the 5/6 Place Final of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in July -- the first-ever U.S. hosted Rugby World Cup which took place at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

There, the squad battled through the straight knockout format to earn a victory over Wales before a crushing loss to England in extra time forced them out of contention for the World Champion title.

After a robust finish over Scotland, the United States men fell to Argentina; and though it wasn't the finish they'd fought for, the USA still achieved their highest ever placing in a Rugby World Cup Sevens. Prior to 2018, the Men's Sevens had never before concluded the competition higher than 13th, marking a climb of 7 places.

With the World Cup now behind them, Head Coach Mike Friday and the American men have set their sights on the most important battle ahead: qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Given they left the last iteration of Dubai Sevens (2017) with a winless result -- and with the bar set that much higher in the spirit of Tokyo 2020 -- the United States men can be expected to play with the highest caliber of intensity.

Who to Watch

Head Coach Mike Friday has selected an extended traveling group of 14 athletes with a final starting 12 selected closer to the start of competition.

Of the 14, Maceo Brown and Marcus Tupuola will have the opportunity to make their national team debut after a strong performance with the developmental Men's Falcons at the AF International Sevens and RugbyTown Sevens put them ahead for selection.

Tupuola and Brown will have another chance to prove themselves alongside 12 Eagles Sevens who consistently appear on the Series circuit.

Nominated for his second-consecutive World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year honors, USA fans will be thrilled to see Perry Baker back in the mix for Dubai and joined by fellow speedster Carlin Isles. Combined, both Isles and Baker scored 86 tries for the United States last season (not counting Rugby World Cup Sevens), accounting to 41% of all tries scored by the USA men.

If named to the final 12, sevens fans' favorite playmaker Folau Niua will make his 60th World Rugby Sevens Series appearance, benchmarking a career filled with capital moments that earned Niua his honorable reputation.

A duo of debutants, another of speedsters, a playmaker and eight other studs will all be lead by Captain Madison Hughes in what will be the first appearance for the senior Men's Sevens program in four months.

The Competition

Facing Spain, Wales and World Champion New Zealand will be no easy feat with each side battle-hardened from four months of preparation.

Spain will be first up for the Men's Sevens with a battle set at 12 AM ET on Day One. The Spanish side missed Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and concluded their World Series run in 11th place last season, giving them much to prove in their first battle of Dubai.

Wales will be next at 3 AM ET and can be expected to enter the match with redemption top of mind after falling to the United States at the World Cup, finishing 11th in San Francisco and capping off a World Series 2018 season in 14th place.

Then will come the battle against back-to-back World Cup Champion New Zealand who finished their World Series season in third-place. The All Blacks Sevens and USA will both conclude the pool rounds against one another at 9:22 AM ET.

Hear it from Head Coach Mike Friday

On going into a new season...
"New season new challenge. It has been an interesting preseason for us given the changes to preparation and personnel that we have implemented to help us continuously evolve. We have also experienced a few unnecessary distractions which as a group we have had to contend with."

On the main goal ...
"Olympic qualification is the target for us in what will be an even more competitive season and I have no doubt the standard will improve once again. To try and continue to move forward we need to strive to achieve a consistency to our game in all matches and seek to eradicate any drops in performance during the same tournaments that hurt us last season. We are confident that if we can remain healthy and resilient to the challenge, we have what it takes to compete for every cup."

On the potential two new debutants Marcus Tupuola and Maceo Brown...
"Both Marcus and Maceo have done remarkably well and worked very hard all summer to get this opportunity. Firstly this is a testament to JD Stephenson's talent identification work which put both in the Collegiate All-American pathway and in front of us at RugbyTown Sevens these last two years."

To Sum it Up

This HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 will bring an energy like never before. With rugby sevens on the doorstep of its second-ever inclusion in the Olympic Games, all teams will compete with a shattering momentum to finish in the Top 4 and seal their qualification.

Top among them will be the Men's Eagles Sevens who ride fast into Dubai Sevens 2018 to challenge Spain, Wales and New Zealand in Pool C.

Men's Eagles Sevens Extended Roster

All players are part of the Men's Sevens residency program.

Perry Baker
Danny Barrett
Maceo Brown*
Madison Hughes (Captain)
Martin Iosefo
Carlin Isles
Matai Leuta
Cody Melphy
Folau Niua
Ben Pinkelman
Brett Thompson
Steve Tomasin
Marcus Tupuola*
Kevon Williams

*Could make their first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series appearance.

Men's Eagles Sevens Staff

Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | Anthony "Rocky" Roques
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Matt Long
Athletic Trainer | Brian Green
Team Manager | Scott Novack

Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Schedule

Pool C | Broadcast LIVE on ESPN Networks (exact network TBD)

vs Spain | Fri, Nov. 30 - 12 AM ET
vs Wales | Fri, Nov. 30 - 3 AM ET
vs New Zealand | Fri, Nov. 30 - 9:22 AM ET

Top 5 placings for USA

(following HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018)

HSBC World Series Standing 20186th (117 points)
Most Points Scored by a PlayerCarlin Isles, 4th (247 points)
Most Tries Scored by a PlayerCarlin Isles, 1st (49 tries)
Perry Baker, 5th (37 tries)
Most Points Scored by a Team4th (1309)
Most Tries Scored by a Team4th (205)