USA men could be rugby world champions this weekend – no, really

first_imgfeatures Major League Rugby expands, carefully – is the Premiership watching? Facebook Perry Baker speaks to HSBC. Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp US sports Rugby sevens Sportblog Twitter Share on Twitter Support The Guardian New challenges are looming. Friday himself told the Guardian the Olympics will likely be the final challenge for many in his squad. Veterans including Baker, at 32 a double world player of the year, have worked brutally hard for six seasons in a punishing sport for scant financial reward. What’s more, the American landscape is changing, with new opportunities emerging.“This pool of talent will be hit hard,” Lewis wrote, “by the success of the 15-a-side Major League Rugby competition, which in its rapid expansion to 12 teams is practically hoovering up players.“This will force the Eagles to cultivate younger and younger talent, with the booming collegiate game becoming critical. Fortunately the college game can afford the coaches and hopefully will pick up the slack, to ensure 2019 becomes the norm rather than the exception.”As the Eagles go for glory in Paris, many who hope to follow them will be on show at the Talen Energy Stadium near Philadelphia, at the 10th annual Collegiate Rugby Championships. Last year’s CRC MVP, former wrestler Ben Broselle, went from UCLA into Friday’s squad. Students of sevens watching the world title decider in Paris would do well to keep an eye on events in Chester, PA as well. Share on Pinterest Highlighting “the volume of sevens played in this country, in a typical season at least three times more than traditional countries”, Lewis heralded “a robust club competition” and said ‘solid pathway programs such as the Northeast Academy” – which he helped create – “and Tiger Rugby [have] ensured a steady flow of raw material to Friday’s fun factory”. … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Read more Let that sink in. The notion that America would dominate world rugby union if it only tried has become a tired cliché. But a world champion team from America? Ahead of the Olympic champions? That would be utterly new.Fiji have won four tournaments on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season to the USA’s one but the Americans have reached the semi-finals at every event. In Vegas, which the USA won, and in Dubai, which New Zealand won, Fiji did not do that. It can happen.Tournament winners get 22 points, runners-up 19 and so on down a scale to the 15th and 16th teams who get a single point each. In London last week, Fiji won the cup and the US were third. That left the Fijians with 164 series points, the Americans 162. New Zealand are next with 143 points, which means they could surpass the Eagles and tie Fiji but in all likelihood will not. Between the top two the permutations are many, including a few ways to tie, but for the Americans the simple target remains: three more points than Fiji.It will be satisfying to World Rugby that at the end of a 10-tournament season, Paris could produce a winner-takes-all final. If that happens, and if Perry Baker gets the better of Jerry Tuwai, the USA will take the world title by 184 points to 183.On Thursday, the day he was appointed head coach of a Jamaica men’s team aiming to beat Canada and join the US at the 2020 Olympics, Steve Lewis sent the Guardian his thoughts on the matter.A loquacious Scot based in New York and known to all as the Lizard, Lewis works with men’s and women’s sevens teams across America and was recently named US senior club coach of the year. Saying this year is “truly American sevens’ annus mirabilis”, he offered a timely reminder that the women’s Eagles are also “ranked No2 in the world”. Topics Pinterest Share via Email Rugby union Read more Share on LinkedIn If the USA men’s sevens team earns three more points than Fiji in Paris this weekend, they will be crowned world champions. Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Read more The women’s series finale is in Biarritz on 15 and 16 June. Alev Kelter, Naya Tapper and co are unlikely to overhaul New Zealand for the title but they need only step on to the field to earn a point and qualify for Tokyo. The men got there last week.“This success has not been overnight,” Lewis wrote. “The men, coached by the ebullient Mike Friday, have improved steadily before this, their breakout year, where they have demonstrated an astonishing consistency in nine straight tournaments.“Their team, led by Madison Hughes, is now one of the most experienced on the circuit and sees a group of players hitting their individual and collective peaks. Ben Pinkelman, Danny Barrett and Stephen Tomasin up front, Martin Iosefo and Folau Niua in midfield and the twin terrors, the pacy superstars Baker and Carlin Isles, in the wide channels.”This “golden generation”, as Lewis called it, is coached by Friday and two other England sevens veterans, Phil Greening and Tony Roques.Before this year, the Eagles’ highest finish on the world series was fifth in 2017, a year after they finished ninth at the Rio Olympics. They fell back to sixth in 2018 but Lewis said their subsequent surge was very far from a fluke. ‘We were attracted by the aggression’: how rugby rescues lives in America USA rugby union team Share on Facebook Since you’re here… Reuse this contentlast_img

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