BOULDER, Colo. – Potentially lost in the excitement of USA Rugby’s third consecutive June visit to Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium for an international test match is the premiere of the Elite City Sevens tournament.
Elite City Sevens, a 12-team tournament featuring 144 U.S.A.-eligible athletes, will be played Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, at nearby Houston Sports Park. The two-day competition between city-based all-star teams is not only an exciting way to kickoff the Club 7s season, but also a significant tool to evaluate talent and identify players who have the skills necessary to compete on an international stage.
The cities compiling the event, which will be a precursor to Saturday night’s match between the Men’s Eagles and Scotland, are: Austin/Houston, Texas, Boston, Mass., Chicago, Ill., Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colo., Philadelphia, Pa., Salt Lake City, Utah, San Diego, Calif., San Francisco, Calif., Seattle, Wash., and Washington, D.C.
Several capped Eagles will be taking the field at Houston Sports Park, including Colin Hawley of the San Francisco-based side.
“Elite City 7s is a step in the right direction for having a quality competition which showcases the best rugby players in the nation,” said Hawley. “I love it when these all-star teams get together because it raises the level of play for all the players involved, and grows the game in that manner.”
Hawley, who was a fixture on the Men’s Eagles Sevens teams for several years before taking a break from the international game to focus on his professional life off the pitch, now plays for San Francisco’s Olympic Club. His recent experiences playing domestically after years of playing against the world’s best has opened the wing/center’s eyes to the immense amount of talent outside of the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.
“We have so many gifted athletes in America that we will always have capable players,” said Hawley. “Having an all-start tournament like this is a great way to increase the level of competition amongst our more skilled sevens players, and begin to develop players for the game’s biggest stage – the IRB Sevens World Series.”
While catching the eye of Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Matt Hawkins and USA Rugby National Development Director Alex Magleby will undoubtedly be in the back of the minds of the players performing at Elite City Sevens, a remarkable reward awaits the winning team of the tournament in Houston. The last team left standing at Elite City Sevens will join New York City 7s at the Premiership Rugby World Club 7s at famed Twickenham Stadium in England this August.
Maximo de Achaval, who has been on the Eagles’ radar since graduating from the University of Colorado and played for the Eagles Selects at the 2013 American Rugby Championship in Canada, will be playing for the Denver-based all-star team, and believes a potential trip to the Premiership Rugby World Club 7s elevates the importance of the tournament.
“Winning a trip to play in Twickenham Stadium raises the level of excitement immensely,” said the fullback and leading scorer of the Denver Barbarians. “It would be an honor to play there and represent the United States. The history of that stadium is priceless, and to be able to play there would be a great experience.”
The United States surprised many at last year’s World Club 7s when the New York squad returned from across the pond with some hardware – the tournament’s Plate trophy, good for fifth place and an automatic spot in this year’s rendition of one of the world’s most competitive sevens tournaments.
Now, the battle begins to determine which all-star roster will join New York in England.
Admission for Elite City Sevens is free, while tickets are still on sale for USA versus Scotland. StreamSports will be filming the entirety of the two-day tournament, and will be broadcast live on USA Rugby TV.
A full match schedule for Elite City Sevens can be found at USARugby.org.