by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
I am looking forward to watching the Eagles Sevens team in action next week in Wellington as they commence their 2012 program. During the last 3 weeks the team have commenced their residency program and this last week had the fortune to work with an old friend of mine, Dave Ellis.
Dave worked with me at Gloucester for three years and has been the French defense coach for more than 10 years. One of the first areas we seek to improve is defense. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next 2 weeks in Wellington and Vegas.
USA Men’s Eagles Head Coach, Al Caravelli, announced today the 12-player squad selected to travel to the New Zealand and USA legs of the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Only three changes have been made to the team that travelled to Australia, Dubai, and South Africa in late 2011 for the first three stops of the Series, providing a core group of experienced and capable players.
Maka Unufe, a highly recruited former wide receiver from Provo, Utah, joins the squad after missing out on the first three legs. Unufe played in three USA Rugby National Championships in 2011 at the Under-19, Men’s Club, and All-Star levels and his performance earned him a spot on the 2011 Pan American Games squad. He helped the USA win a Bronze in the Games.
Roland Suniula returns to the squad after recovering from an injury in the Pan Ams. Suniula was the first-choice flyhalf for the Eagles in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, showing his versatility at the fifteen and seven-a-side versions of the game.
The third addition to the squad is Andrew Durutalo. Durutalo got his first taste of international sevens last December after joining the squad in South Africa to provide cover for the team that played three tournaments in as many weekends. Durutalo fit right in on the sevens field and scored his first international try against Canada.
The young up-and-coming players Miles Craigwell and Andrew Durutalo join veteran forwards Mark Bokhoven, Mike Palefau, and Matt Hawkins.
The backs are packed with pace and experience and led by captain Shalom Suniula. Peter Tiberio, Maka Unufe, and Folau Niua represent the new blood in the backline.
Utility players Zack Test (vice-captain) and Colin Hawley are handy all over the field and are among the most consistent performers at the international level.
USA Rugby announced in November 2011 that 15 full-time training contracts would be offered to sevens athletes, lending momentum to the USA Rugby sevens program. Of the 12 traveling players, seven are full-time residents. The remaining five players are from the taxi squad.
In Wellington, the Eagles will face Pool B opponents South Africa, England, and the Cook Islands, a firm challenge but a great test for the squad.
USA Men’s Eagle Sevens |2012 New Zealand and USA Sevens
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors; Salt Lake City, Utah)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach; Boston, Mass.)
*Shalom Suniula (USA Rugby; San Diego, Calif.)
**Zack Test (USA Rugby; Palo Alto, Calif.)
Matt Hawkins (Belmont Shore; San Diego, Calif.)
Maka Unufe (USA Rugby; Provo, Utah)
Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wa.)
Folau Niua (USA Rugby; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (USA Rugby; Naperville, Ill.)
Colin Hawley (USA Rugby; Trowbridge, Calif.)
Roland Suniula (USA Rugby; Boston, Mass.)
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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