BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby announced today Head Coach Alexander Magleby’s Men’s Eagles Sevens squad that will compete at the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens from March 22-24. The three-day tournament, the largest of the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series, includes all 15 core teams joined by hosts Hong Kong, as well as a separate core team pre-qualifier bracket with 12 other nations.
Matt Hawkins returns as Eagles captain and will lead the USA Sevens Plate Semifinalists against Pool B opponents France, Kenya and New Zealand. With 96 points, the All Blacks top the Series standings, while the Eagles are in 13th with 28 points.
“The guys have been hard at work building on where we left off in Las Vegas,” Magleby said. “We are getting closer to our goals. It will be an exciting challenge to put together improved performances against quality opponents who have also been improving and, of course, we want to add crucial Series points. We can’t wait to compete again.”
Brett Thompson, former USA Rugby AIG Boys All-American and current residency player, will return after performing well for the US Falcons at the Las Vegas Invitational. Thompson last played for the US in Port Elizabeth, having made his Series debut at this season’s Gold Coast Sevens.
“Brett is a quality athlete and he has really started to play some confident rugby over the last month,” Magleby said.
Mike Palefau joins this series’ stop with years of national team experience. Palefau is taking a break from his club season with Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach to return to Eagles Sevens duty. Palefau represented the Eagles at the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens, playing alongside Magleby, and led the team in tries and points during the 2011-12 Sevens World Series.
“Mike played well for the Serevi Olympic Development Academy at the LVI," Magleby said, "and we welcome back his speed, athleticism and work-rate in the tackle area.”
Maka Unufe’s rehabilitation from an injury sustained in Wellington is progressing well, but it is still too early for his return. Blaine Scully is also dealing with a minor injury and will be kept out of Hong Kong as a precaution. Nate Augspurger is unavailable for selection due to injury, as well.
The Eagles will meet Kenya for the first time on this year’s circuit in their opening match, and last faced France at the Dubai Sevens in November, who they will play second. The Eagles have already met New Zealand in pool play twice at Gold Coast Sevens and Hertz Sevens.
The core team pre-qualifier tournament at Hong Kong Sevens will determine four teams who will compete for a core team spot at London Sevens in May. Asian Series Sevens Champions Hong Kong will join those four and the bottom three core teams in a competition separate from the Series in London to decide who will join as a core team in the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series.
Stay in the know as the Hong Kong Sevens tournament draws nearer by following the official USA Rugby Twitter account (@USARugby), the USA Rugby Facebook Page and the USA Rugby website. See the full tournament schedule here.
Meet Magleby and Women’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Ric Suggitt in the next #USARugbyHangout series on March 13. Join the USA Rugby Google+ Hangout here.
USA Men’s Eagle Sevens | Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
Matt Hawkins (Captain)
Eagles Schedule | Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
vs. Kenya – 5:50 A.M. ET Friday, March 22
vs. France – 10:50 P.M. ET Friday, March 22
vs. New Zealand – 7:38 A.M. ET Saturday, March 23