LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Men’s Eagles Sevens are looking to jump a few spots in the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series standings with a good showing at USA Sevens this weekend. Grouped with Argentina, France and Spain in Pool D, the Eagles’ path to a possible Cup Quarterfinals berth could have been tougher.
In the first two years of USA Sevens in Los Angeles, Calif., Argentina met New Zealand in the Cup Final. The Pumas came away with a 21-12 victory in 2004 but fell to the All Blacks big, 34-5, the following year. A Plate Final win against France in 2006 capped a successful stint for the Pumas at The Home Depot Center (now The StubHub Center).
USA Sevens’ move to Petco Park in San Diego, Calif., did not affect the Pumas’ success too much, as Argentina played in another Plate Final in 2008 and won the Cup in 2009 against a strong England side. Since the move to Las Vegas and Sam Boyd Stadium, the Pumas have lost a Plate Final (2012) and a Bowl Final (2013) and have defeated the Eagles once in pool play (2012).
The Eagles have not had the chance to take the field against Argentina during the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series, but the Pumas have used a Plate Final victory at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens and a fourth-place finish at Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens to propel themselves into sixth place in the Series standings. Along the way, they have beaten teams like England, Wales and Scotland and have held New Zealand and South Africa to close matches.
Argentina’s last match-up against the Eagles came in the Plate Quarterfinal of the 2013 IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Russia. Zach Test scored the only try for the Eagles in the 28-5 loss, while the Pumas advanced to the Plate Semifinal only to lose 21-14 to Samoa.
Argentina might be a beneficiary of USA Sevens being held in the United States due to the relatively close time difference: just five hours ahead of Las Vegas. Similarly, Uruguay – the only other South American participant – and Canada should also benefit from the Pacific Time Zone location.
France reached the Cup Semifinal of USA Sevens in 2007 but has not achieved the same heights on American soil since. The 2006 Plate Final loss to Argentina is the closest the Europeans have come to finishing high in the table.
The Eagles have had a lengthy history with Les Blues on the Series circuit, including a 28-17 win in the 2010 USA Sevens Bowl Quarterfinal. In 2012, the Eagles again defeated France, 21-5, in the Bowl Quarterfinal, though Les Blues went on to win the Shield against Scotland and the Eagles finished with a loss in the Bowl Semifinal to Australia.
France was drawn into one of 2013’s tougher pools with New Zealand, Wales and Argentina and finished pool play with an 0-3 record. Wins against Kenya, 21-17, and England, 40-7, in the Bowl Quarterfinal and Semifinal, respectively, set up a rematch against the Pumas in the Bowl Final. Tied 12-all at halftime, France’s Terry Bouhraoua scored a try in the ninth minute and Les Blues held onto the 17-12 lead to gain redemption and the Bowl.
France won a nail-biter against the Eagles in the Shield Semifinal at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens last November. Nu’u Punimata and Pono Haitsuka scored first-half tries before France scored three unanswered tries in the second half of the match to come away with the 19-14 win. Les Blues eventually defeated Spain in the Shield Final to move into 10th in the Series standings after three tournaments.
USA Sevens has only hosted Spain during its 2013 tournament, in which Los Leones lost to the Eagles 22-7 in pool play. Spain’s only win in the pool came against Australia, 24-14. Spain defeated Portugal 12-0 in the Bowl Quarterfinal but was knocked out of Las Vegas with a 21-12 loss to Argentina in the Semifinal.
At the 2013 Gold Coast Sevens, Spain lost a close pool match against France before losing to the Eagles in the Shield Semifinal. Los Leones entered Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens with a chip on their shoulders and would have returned home with hardware if it were not for a defeat to France, 28-17, in the Shield Final.
Another loss to the Eagles in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Bowl Quarterfinal and a Shield Semifinal disappointment against Scotland left Spain with four points following the conclusion of the first three tournaments. Spain is the only core team below the Eagles in the Series standings heading into Las Vegas, sitting 15th.
Men's Eagles Sevens | USA Sevens
v Argentina - Friday, Jan. 24 - 9:12 P.M. ET
v France - Friday, Jan. 24 - 12:30 A.M. ET
v Spain - Saturday, Jan. 25 - 5:34 P.M. ET