Thursday, February 27, 2014

Central Coast 7s - A Look At the Competition So Far

In 8 months the Stars Elite men and women will be boarding flights home after the championship rounds of Central Coast 7s in Australia - potentially to be played inside of a major stadium if rumors hold true! Here's a look at the competition thus far with some pretty amazing national sides and touring teams:



Tribe 7s Men's and Women's
Defending CC7s Women’s Champion.
Invitational Men & Women’s team aiming to develop future Olympians. The 2013 team featured former Aussie Captain Rebecca Tavo & Nicole Beck and current players Charlotte Caslick, Shontelle Stowers & Emma Tonegato. Men’s team current Shanghai Sevens Champions.


Sunnybank Rugby Men's and Women's
2012 Women’s Champions, 2013 Runner Up
2011 Men’s Champions, 2012 Runner Up, 2013 Semi Finalist
Sunnybank run arguably the strongest sevens program in Australia and are the most successful club to contest the CC7s. The 2011 Mens Cup Winning Side featured USA International Shalom Suniula, Canadian International Harry Jones and Australian International Peter Lee.  

Sunnybank hold the record of being the most successful club at the CC7s with their men's side cup champions 2011 after defeating the Aussie Thunderbolts national side, followed by runners up in 2012 and semi finalists 2013. The Sunnybank women were 2012 Cup Champions and 2013 runner up.


Rugirl 7 Women
The Japanese Kanto champions and widely regarded as the strongest women’s 7s team in Japan. The team were very strong performers in 2013 featuring a number of Japanese Internationals.



 



ACT Brumbies Women
The ACT Brumbies are an impressive representative team who won the 2013 Australia National Championship and are expected to have the firepower to challenge for the Kinesio Cup.






Melbourne City Silverbacks Women
A powerful side from Victoria the Silverbacks will be contesting their first CC7s.  

 

Central Coast Academy of Sport Women
The CCAS have developed a magnificent women's sevens program with some great talent coming through. 






Fijiana Women
The Fijian Women's National Team

 



Rangataua Men
New Zealand's Middlesex 7s Champions. 

 



Yamacia Men
Fiji Coral Coast 7s Champions, 2013 CC7s semifinalists.




  


Daveta Men
Boreno7s Champions







 

New Zealand Four Nations Men
 A side that emerged from a 4 National tournament held at the end of the rugby season in NZ. To be eligible to play you must have direct lineage to one of the four home nations -Scotland, England, Wales & Ireland.




Confirmed women's teams to date include:
Rugirl 7 (Japan)
Tribe 7s (Australia)
Sunnybank (Australia)
Stars Rugby 7s (USA)
Fijiana (Fiji)
Central Coast Academy of Sport (Australia)
Melbourne City Silverbacks (Australia)
ACT Brumbies (Australia)



Confirmed men's teams:
Tribe 7s (Australia)
Yamacia (Fiji)
Daveta (Fiji)
Sunnybank (Australia)
New Zealand Four Nations (New Zealand)
Stars Rugby (USA)


Exciting News for World Club 7s!

In the last day or so there have been some awesome developments regarding the men's World Club 7s Championships. In addition to the main event at Twickenham, which debuted last summer, there will be another leg hosted in Limerick the week prior with some major programs involved. Given the recent Eagles siginings overseas and Australia's new commitment to Olympic 7s, there could be some thrilling matchups over the course of these games in August!

The Limerick Post shares details:

World Club Rugby 7′s set for Thomond Park

| February 26, 2014
Munster v Edinburgh - Pool 6 Round 6 - Heineken Cup 2013/14

On the 9th & 10th of August, Limerick will host some of the biggest names in club and provincial rugby from both Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with confirmed teams for the Limerick World Club 7s Festival including Saracens, New South Wales Waratahs, Stade Fran├žais, Moscow, Auckland, New York, Vancouver, South Africa’s Blue Bulls and Western Province, and Munster Rugby.

The inaugural Limerick World Club 7s Festival is taking place at Thomond Park the weekend before this year’s World Club 7s event in Twickenham with many of the same teams taking part in both, meaning that travelling fans will get four days of superb 7s in one week!

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“We have been looking for this type of event in Limerick for some time,” said CEO of Limerick Marketing Company Eoghan Prendergast, who warmly welcomed the announcement of the Limerick World Club 7s Festival, and who has been working on bringing this event to the city since last summer. “We are particularly delighted that, in partnership with World Club 7s, we will be highlighting Limerick’s love affair with sport across a wide of range of audiences around the world.”

“Thomond Park Stadium is delighted to play its part in hosting Limerick World Club 7s this August,” says John Cantwell, Stadium Director of Thomond Park Stadium, “and this top class event will provide an exciting additional must-see experience to our calendar of events at Thomond Park and will also deliver significant economic and social benefits to Limerick and the region. This tournament has the potential to become one of the leading international 7s rugby competitions in the world on an annual basis and to further endorse Limerick and the region as a hotbed of rugby and a centre of sporting excellence.”

More than a tournament
As well as the legendary facilities at Thomond Park, visitors to Limerick World Club 7s are invited to enjoy the events happening throughout Limerick, as this is a citywide festival, not just a rugby tournament.
Limerick City and County Manager Conn Murray is very pleased to welcome the inaugural Limerick World Club 7s Festival to the city. “We are looking forward to welcoming visitors and guests from all over the country and further afield this year, and for the next four years, and to showcasing everything about our vibrant and welcoming city.”

Limerick
Limerick has been chosen as host city for World Club 7s as it is the ideal venue to facilitate a long-term, world-class event that will bring club 7s and their passionate colourful support from all over the world.
Limerick has the right airlift via Shannon, a strong supply of quality hotel stock and an international reputation for sporting events.

“We very much appreciate the support of all in Limerick City and County Council, particularly that of Eoghan Prendergast who has been working closely with our team,” said Tim Magee, “and we would also like to thank John Cantwell and the great team at Thomond Park, and all at Munster Rugby.”
 
7s This calibre of club 7s has never been seen on this island before. Some of the greatest names in rugby refined their game on the 7s circuit including Jonah Lomu, who credits his success to his grounding in 7s, saying that he would not have been the player or person that he is without it. 7s tournaments are loved all over the world for their cosmopolitan international flair and sense of entertainment and fun. With colour, cheerleaders and crazy costumes commonplace, dressing up is encouraged!

Ahead of its inclusion as an Olympic sport in the Rio Olympics, the Limerick World Club 7s will attract not just rugby fans of all persuasion, but sports lovers of every stripe and groups of friends and families, all out to enjoy the unique festival atmosphere of 7s in Ireland’s most sport-mad city.

The speed and finesse at this level of 7s makes it perfect for TV and the Limerick World Club 7s tournament will be shown around the world, but you really have to be there to experience an atmosphere unlike anything else in rugby. Each game has 2 halves of 7 minutes, so the entire tournament between the 12 teams from 5 continents playing at the Festival this August will fit perfectly into 2 days of fast-paced, high-scoring, scintillating rugby action.

Daily ticket prices will cover the whole day, with special limited ticket offers of kids tickets from €5 per day or €10 per weekend, and adults from €12.50 per day, €20 per weekend. Tickets for the World Club 7s Series will go on sale on Wednesday the 26th of February and are available on www.Ticketmaster.ie and from all usual outlets including Thomond Park Stadium, or by phoning:
0818 719 300 – Republic of Ireland Customers
0844 847 2455 – Northern Ireland Customers
00 353 1456 9569 – International Customers

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Photo Essay from Atlanta 7s Part 5: Spain vs Japan and Canada v New Zealand

All photos courtesy Eyal Hakim. Some of these are out of order due to the uploading process:































USA Men's 15s Camp and Scrimmage

Yes, the Stars started out as women's program. And yes, we are a touring rugby 7s team. But that does not mean that 15s isn't a big part of our lives as it's still the main form of action in the US. Now that we are introducing a men's Stars program, we should devote some coverage to the men's game as well.

While the Buffalo women hit the pitch at the Winterfest 7s tournament in the snow this weekend, our Florida and Louisiana Stars saw time on the 15s pitch as a part of Fort Lauderdale's Ruggerfest. Both FAU and FIU played with and against Ft Miami women, while coach Eyal stepped in as a flyhalf and outside center with The Willing touring side. Star Jessica saw action in the Mardi Gras tournament in NOLA too. We'll have plenty of Eyal's photos to share and reports from players later this week!

In the meantime, the USA Men's 15s side held a four day domestic player camp at Life University just outside Atlanta, in Marietta, GA. Life is one of the top overall programs in the country offering rugby scholarships to undergraduate men and women as well as fielding men's post-collegiate D1 and an Elite Cup/Super League side. The chiropractic school also offers psychology, business, and nutrition degrees amongst others; and it boasts one of the most beautiful training facilities and playing grounds I have seen in North America. With a coaching staff with former Eagles flanker and Men's 15s coach Dan Payne as the Director of Rugby and the talented Rosalind Chou guiding the new women's team.

I followed the game via Life's Twitter feed. Early on it seemed they were in clear control of the match as they jumped out to a first half lead. The 2nd half was a different story as the Eagles found their stride and dotted down several tries. It is worth noting that Eagles standouts like Todd Clever, Samu Manoa, Cam Dolan, Chris Wyles, Scott LaValla, Toby L'Estrange and Blaine Scully were absent from the scrimmage due to their professional contracts abroad.

Rugby Magainze put together a gallery of the camp here and  This is American Rugby put together a recap of the match:

Eagles Close Out Camp With Scrimmage Win Over Life


The Eagles closed out their domestic camp with a 43-20 win over Life earlier today. Head coach Mike Tolkin used the opportunity to not only give new players a chance to show what they have in a game environment but also to give players that haven't played much rugby since last November the chance to get their legs under them once again. For Life it was an opportunity to play a solid opponent prior to the start of their spring season.

Life were the aggressive team early on and even took a lead into the break. AJ MacGinty scored first for Life before Danny Barrett leveled to make it 7-7 12 minutes in. As expected due to rust and being a makeshift side the Eagles committed a number of penalties. MacGinty was quick to convert those chances making it 13-7 at halftime.

In the second half the Eagles turned it on and scored a number of tries. The first of those tries came just 10 minutes into the half  followed by a Tim Maupin try a few minutes later to make it 24-13. The Eagles would then run in two more tries to put the score at 36-13 with ten minutes left. Both teams then traded tries to end the match to make the final 43-20.

The Eagles will next assemble in March ahead of their World Cup qualifying series against Uruguay. That assembly will also be in Atlanta, which will host the return leg of that series. It is expected that they will once again scrimmage but this time the South Panthers. The next camp will primarily be domestic players once again at the start with the same goal of getting them matches. Overseas based players will join them after their club's matches. Although only 26-30 players will be called on for the World Cup qualifiers and many of those players are already set, Tolkin is keeping his eye on this summer when the Eagles will have three matches as well as next fall's Americas Rugby Championship.
Another brief write-up from Rugby Magazine:

USA and Life Players Enjoy Big Game
National Teams - USA Men

The USA domestic players faced off with Life University this past weekend to cap off the USA domestic camp.

Forty-seven players took part in the scrimmage, and here's a photo of all of them. It's interesting to note, that the Life team was no team of patsies. At least ten of the Life players have been in the USA system either in age-grade, All Americans, USA Selects, or full Eagles. Others are very close to gaining that status.

Here's the post-game photo.

Back Row, left to right: Miles Craigwell, Brodie Orth, Demecus Beach, Garrett Lambert, Cathal Doyle, Chris Sullivan, Tim Maupin, non-player, Chris Chapman, Lou Stanfill, non-player, Matt Trouville, TC Elliott, Kyle Strohman, Dean Gericke, Tom Katzfey, Joe Cowley, Graham Harriman, Jason Davila, Dave Gannon, Zach Walker, Jake Anderson, Cornelius Dirksen, Jack Tracy, Kris Headlee, Zach Simkins, non-player, Adam Siddall, Danny Barrett, AJ McGinty  Front Row, left to right: Olive Kilifi, Aaron Young, Mike Petri, Chad London, Zach Fenoglio, Shaun Davies, Derek Asbun, Kelly Kolberg, Tom Coolican, Calvin Nell, Glenn Maricelli, Kyle Sumsion, John Cullen seated in front of Paris Hollis, Harley Davidson, Benji Goff, Blaine McIlroy, Nick Wallace, Aaron McMaster, Shalom Suniula. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Back Row, left to right: Miles Craigwell, Brodie Orth, Demecus Beach, Garrett Lambert, Cathal Doyle, Chris Sullivan, Tim Maupin, non-player, Chris Chapman, Lou Stanfill, non-player, Matt Trouville, TC Elliott, Kyle Strohman, Dean Gericke, Tom Katzfey, Joe Cowley, Graham Harriman, Jason Davila, Dave Gannon, Zach Walker, Jake Anderson, Cornelius Dirksen, Jack Tracy, Kris Headlee, Zach Simkins, non-player, Adam Siddall, Danny Barrett, AJ McGinty Front Row, left to right: Olive Kilifi, Aaron Young, Mike Petri, Chad London, Zach Fenoglio, Shaun Davies, Derek Asbun, Kelly Kolberg, Tom Coolican, Calvin Nell, Glenn Maricelli, Kyle Sumsion, John Cullen seated in front of Paris Hollis, Harley Davidson, Benji Goff, Blaine McIlroy, Nick Wallace, Aaron McMaster, Shalom Suniula. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
 
Another Rugby Magazine piece:

Scrimmage Caps off USA Domestic Camp (With Photos)
National Teams - USA Men

The USA Domestic Camp finished off with a scrimmage Sunday between the USA players and Life University.

The unofficial score was somewhere in the neighborhood of 46-20 in favor of the domestic Eagles, but it was much closer in the first 40 minutes.

Not surprisingly, the Life team was more together and more polished as a unit. As the USA campers go into the swing of things, they began to open up the game.

And in case you are thinking that the players took it easy on each other because this was just a practice game, don't The Life players had plenty to prove on their side, and the USA hopefuls were the same. This was a pretty physical clash.

Several players for Life were also under the scrutiny of USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin, including Shaun Davies, who was in the USA camp but started for his club side in the scrimmage, as well as flyhalf AJ McGinty, who becomes USA eligible in 2015.

Lou Stanfill wins a lineout ball. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Lou Stanfill wins a lineout ball. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Halfback combos. Shaun Davies passes out to AJ McGinty while Mike Petri pesters him and Adam Siddall watches. Flanker Benji Goff at right.  Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Halfback combos. Shaun Davies passes out to AJ McGinty while Mike Petri pesters him 
and Adam Siddall watches. Flanker Benji Goff at right. Dennis D. Hawk photo.

Kelly Kolberg on the charge. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Kelly Kolberg on the charge. Dennis D. Hawk photo.

Ollie Kilifi powers ahead. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Ollie Kilifi powers ahead. Dennis D. Hawk photo.

Tim Maupin touches down for the USA players. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Tim Maupin touches down for the USA players. Dennis D. Hawk photo.

Assuming this is a ruck, we count as many as four infractions. How abour you?. Dennis D. Hawk photo.
Assuming this is a ruck, we count as many as four infractions. 
How about you?. Dennis D. Hawk photo.

And finally, Curtis of This is American Rugby's contributed a piece to RugbyRugby.com with his post-camp picks to make the Rugby World Cup Qualifier team for their home and away series against Uruguay in March:

30 Tickets: Eagles RWCQ Edition

With less than month to go before the Eagles World Cup qualifying series against Uruguay we thought it was a good time to share our latest 30 tickets. While the series normally targets the 30 players that will likely make the Eagles next roster this one is going to take a bit of a turn due to the Eagles only taking a squad of 26 next month.

Prop: Eric Fry, Shawn Pittman, Nick Wallace, Titi Lamositele
Over the last year the prop situation has essentially sorted itself out with Fry, Pittman, Wallace, and Lamositele being the main group. Each of their strengths and weaknesses but as a whole are the best available to the team. The biggest concern among the group is the health of Shawn Pittman but assurances have been made that he will be able to recover from his concussion symptoms in time. If Pittman can’t go then it’s likely that Oliver Kilifi will step in. Blake Burdette and Patrick Latu are considerations but Kilifi is the favorite at the moment.

Hooker: Phil Thiel, Zach Fenoglio
Thiel will be the starter against Uruguay barring something unforeseen. Fenoglio offers a lot of good qualities as a back-up but with a squad of only 26 there have to be cuts somewhere and Fenoglio may be it, especially if a player like Derek Asbun, who has played hooker in the past, makes the team as a back-row player. That said, he still makes our list.

Lock: Samu Manoa, Tai Tuisamoa, Lou Stanfill
A year ago lock was a position of deep concern for the Eagles and now it is one of their strengths. The emergence of Cam Dolan has allowed Manoa to play down in the second row. He was outstanding when paired with Tai Tuisamoa this last fall. Smith’s return complicates things. He is just getting back in the swing of rugby but brings a lot of skill and athleticism. The same goes for Stanfill who is now healthy.

We think that only three locks will be on the side and it will be Manoa, Tuisamoa, and Stanfill. Smith would normally be there but this gives him time to readjust to rugby while with Saracens. Plus, he’ll have more time to adjust back to Eagles play during the summer. This means that Brian Doyle, Nick Civetta, and Graham Harriman will all be on the outside looking in after some strong player over the past year for the Eagles or their club.

Back-row: Todd Clever, Scott LaValla, Cam Dolan, Peter Dahl, Derek Asbun
This is another position which is fairly stacked. By our count there are five players all very capable of playing significant minutes for the team that won’t be on the roster. The starting three is evident with Clever, LaValla, and Dolan expected to get the nod after playing so well last fall. Who will play back-up is a better question. Peter Dahl was phenomenal against the Maori All Blacks but Danny Barrett and Derek Asbun have played well at times too. Then there are players like Matt Trouville, John Quill, and Inaki Basauri. It’s a tough call but we think that Asbun brings a lot of positive traits to the team in terms of leadership, work-rate, and his ability to play emergency hooker if needed. Dahl also gets the nod from us based on his recent form. The next closest would be Quill but he’s left off in a numbers game.

Scrumhalf: Mike Petri, Robbie Shaw
This is a position that head coach Mike Tolkin feels like there is room for improvement and that no one has nailed down the starting spot. Petri and Shaw have split time before but Shaw is the only one playing regularly at the moment. Shaun Davies has been the number three for awhile and could get his chance. We think that Petri and Shaw will have one more go together.

Fly-half: Adam Siddall, Toby L’Estrange
After L’Estrange went down with an injury against the Maori All-Blacks Siddall seized the position and looked strong. His kicking game in particular has been what the Eagles have needed for a long time. He will be one of the first names Tolkin puts on the team sheet. L’Estrange is back healthy and playing with London Welsh. He can play fly-half, center, and fullback, versatility that is valuable.

Center: Folau Niua, Seamus Kelly, Andrew Suniula
Andrew Suniula has been the constant on the team. When he’s been paired with either Niua or Kelly he has looked solid. Both Niua and Kelly have proven themselves over the past year and will make the team.

Wing: Blaine Scully, Luke Hume, Tim Maupin, Brett Thompson
Scully is an automatic selection. He has proved over this last year with the Eagles and with Leicester that he is an extremely valuable player. Maupin was one of the surprise players from last fall and has seemed to cement a place in the starting line-up at the expense of Luke Hume, who will still make the team but more as a reserve. Brett Thompson is our surprise selection. He has all the tools to be a successful international wing and has been known to be a target of Tolkin. This will be the perfect time to bring him in despite conflicts with the 7s team. Those on the outside looking in include James Paterson, who is dealing with injury, Miles Craigwell, and Taku Ngwenya, who is dealing with Biarritz’s poor position in the Top 14.

Fullback: Chris Wyles
Wyles is a no-brainer at this position. Back-ups will likely come from elsewhere on the field.