CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Matt Hawkins has welcomed five new players to the Olympic Training Center, while two players have joined the Women’s Eagles Sevens.
Capped Men’s Eagles Will Holder, Tim Maupin and Adam Siddall, as well as past sevens players Thretton Palamo and Nese Malifa, will bring the total number of Eagles training with Hawkins to 25 following the departures of Tai Enosa, Jack Halalilo, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua and Pila Taufa.
Holder will add to the growing list of World Class Athlete Program players in camp with Eric Deuchele, Ben Leatigaga, Andrew Locke, Nu’u Punimata and Marcus Satavu already training in Chula Vista.
The next leg of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series will take place in Tokyo March 22-23, the same weekend of the first leg of the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Qualifier against Uruguay for the Men’s Eagles.
“At this point, Mike [Tolkin] and I are working together to make sure he gets what he needs and we get what we need,” Hawkins said. “Right now it’s on his selections, and when his selections come out that’ll sort of depict who I’ll have available.
“Obviously a few of the guys are new to the setup, so they’ve got to work their way into the sevens game and the team, but at this point, I think you’ll see quite a few of them turning up on the 15s roster and then getting an opportunity to work their way into the sevens team towards the end of our season for [Glasgow Sevens] and London [Sevens].”
Palamo recently finished his American football career at the University of Utah, where he walked on to the Utes’ team in 2011 and earned a scholarship. Before college, he was a member of the Men’s Eagles in France during the IRB Rugby World Cup France 2007 and earned his debut against South Africa.
Palamo may have to readjust to playing rugby, but Hawkins knows any athlete coming into the OTC will be a bit behind the athletes already there.
“I think pretty much anyone that trains is not really in sevens shape as far as the guys here training day in, day out,” Hawkins said. “The amount of time we spend on our legs each day – there aren’t a lot of people who do that just generally.
“Thretton obviously has put on a little more weight to be bigger and stronger for football, so that’s one of the things we’ll have to manage with his to get him back to where he needs to be.”
Hear Hawkins discuss what the new additions will bring to the team:
Madison Hughes will remain in training with the team through Tokyo Sevens and Hong Kong Sevens, but will then return to Dartmouth to continue his studies. Isles will still be considered for selection for the remaining legs of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series while he is with Glasgow Warriors.
Hawkins will also welcome four new coaches to his coaching staff: Skills/Assistant Coach Richie Walker; Defense Coach Andre Snyman; and Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings as kicking coaches.
The Women’s Eagles Sevens will welcome crossover athletes Leyla Kelter and Elana Meyers to the fold Saturday, March 1.
Kelter, a member of the University of Wisconsin Badgers’ ice hockey and soccer teams, has already had a lengthy international career representing her country. In 2008, she was named to the United States Women’s Ice Hockey Under-18 national team for the 2008 world championships, where the U.S. won gold. Kelter has also toured the world with the U.S. Women’s Soccer Under-17 national team and was a standout at the 2009 Under-18 and Under-20 Women’s national team camp.
“I found out about her from Lorrie Clifford, who knew her from high school,” Women's Eagles Sevens Head Coach Ric Suggitt said. “She said she might be interested but she had a bit of school work to finish off this year. So we got in contact and invited her out to camp. She did quite well.”
Kelter, who goes by Alev, was at the OTC in January when Rugby Canada’s women’s sevens team was in town. She made her first appearance for the Eagles during one of the scrimmages.
“When Canada came in and scrimmaged with us we threw Alev in right away,” Suggitt said. “I think the second time she touched the ball she cut through the Canadian back line and scored a try. She’s not shy about her tackling, she has good athletic ability, she’s got a great attitude.”
Meyers returns to the OTC after spending most of February in Sochi, Russia, for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She earned a silver medal in the Women’s Bobsleigh event with partner Lauryn Williams.
Suggitt saw Meyers at the OTC prior to her departure to Russia and gauged her interest in trying rugby sevens for the next edition of the Olympics.
“With Elana we see the same thing; we’ve seen her train and she’s got a good attitude,” Suggitt said. “She’s demonstrated that around the Olympic Training Center every time I saw her. Obviously we know she’s determined and a good athlete. Whatever she puts her mind to she can do, so I think if everything goes the way it’s gone for her in the past we’ll see her around for a long time.”
Meyers is on a one-month contract in Chula Vista, while Kelter will be with the team long-term. Hear Suggitt talk about how he brought Meyers into camp:
The Women’s Eagles Sevens won the Bowl at Sao Paulo Sevens last weekend after having won the Plate at Atlanta 7s Valentine’s Day weekend. Gangzhou Women’s Sevens, the fourth leg of the 2013-14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, will kick off April 5.
Men's Eagles Sevens | Residency Roster
Men's Eagles Sevens | 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series
Tokyo Sevens - March 22-23
Hong Kong Sevens - March 28-30
Glasgow Sevens - May 3-4
London Sevens - May 10-11
Women's Eagles Sevens | Residency Roster
Leyla "Alev" Kelter
Women's Eagles Sevens | 2013-14 IRB Women's Sevens World Series
Gangzhou Women's Sevens - April 5-6
Amsterdam Sevens - May 16-17