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Tiger Rugby will be taking its first international tour since being announced as an Olympic Development Academy, as they head to China for Shanghai 7s Oct. 26-27. The Tigers will get to China early, play in a local tournament the weekend prior to the big event and work with some schools during the week.
Tiger has tabbed 10 players so far who will join them on tour, and two more will be added soon. Three of the players made their Tiger debut with the Tiger Cubs at Serevi RugbyTown 7s in Glendale, Colo. in August – Kyle Hitt, Perry Baker and Kelly Kolberg.
All played well enough to earn a trip to China. Baker, who dipped his toe in the NFL as a wide receiver having once been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, turned heads in Glendale with his athleticism.
“I’ve actually had some hands on Perry through the Academy, so I expected some things out of him, but he was superb. He’s a guy who quite frankly should be in Chula Vista, in my opinion. He’s got everything that Carlin has and more, because he’s bigger, he’s stronger,” said Tiger director and head coach James Walker.
“I can tell you Perry’s got real speed, and he’s also got a nose for the try line. He’s also got a lot to learn, but he’s got tremendous upside.”
The Tigers are a little light on size in the forwards, but they’re taking a well experienced team, with capped 7s Eagles like Zac Pangelinan, Nese Malifa and Mikey Te’o. Te’o and Mike Ziegler are currently contracted with the 7s Eagles.
“It’ll be a good test. We don’t have as much depth in certain areas as I’d like, but we’ll deal with it,” said Walker.
“Kelly [Kolberg] and Dom [Mauer], they’re small forwards, but they’re guys that can go out there and just grunt. I’ve got a couple of utility type of players. I might be using Taylor Howden in the forwards to get some more creativity on that side of the park, and obviously JP [Eloff] can play nine, 10 or 12, if necessary, so we feel good.”
The lineup for Shanghai has not yet been announced, but Walker is expecting to see high level 7s clubs like Bristol University and several Asian National Teams to compete.
Mike Ziegler – 1823/USA Rugby
Dominic Mauer – 1823
Kelly Kolberg – Dallas Reds
JP Eloff – Davenport University
Zac Pangelinan – OMBAC
Taylor Howden – Denver Barbarians
Kyle Hitt – Denver Barbarians
Nese Malifa – Glendale Raptors
Mikey Te’o – Belmont Shore/USA Rugby
Perry Baker – Daytona