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Now it’s time to front up in the HSBC Sevens World Series, and that’s a different animal from the Pan-Am Games. The World Series matches will be, overall, tougher. Previously the World Series has been played in four pairs of two tournaments – Dubai and George, South Africa, then a break; Wellington and Las Vegas, then a break, etc.
But now the World Series has nine tournaments, so the first segment is three tournaments, one after another from November 25 to December 10. It will stress the Eagles because three tournaments in the space of 16 days is tough on anyone. But it could also be good – so often when RUGBYMag.com interviews players after a pair of tournaments, those players talk about how they wish they had one more tournament to play to show how much they’ve improved.
Don’t be surprised, however, if the USA team makes some changes after the first or second tournament in this three-tournament run. Head Coach Al Caravelli might want to make changes based on opponents, or he might wish to test more than just 12 over these three crucial weeks.
Don’t be surprised, either, if the Eagles cut back on the contact before tournaments. The players in camp right now are running through two-a-days and battling hard for places. Once they are in-country, however, leading into three tournaments, Caravelli might be concerned about risking injury early in the process.
More than any other aspect of play, the USA will want to garner more possession. They went through their first day at the Pan-Am Games getting only 32% of the ball – and they still scores eight tries (!).
When they got the possession numbers up to 50% on the second day, they scored 11. That works out to a try every 48 seconds they have the ball. Overall they had the ball about 35 minutes and scored 19 tries. Their opposition had the ball about 49 minutes and scored 17 tries. If the Eagles can get possession to 50%, and follow that trend, they can score 4 tries, and hold opposition to 2 or 3.
Caravelli will have defense and ball-hawking in mind when he makes his picks for the team on Thursday. He will also have a big decision to make regarding whether he keeps all his young, speedy guys, or whether he goes with experienced players – such as Mike Palefau and Nick Edwards.
Upcoming IRB Sevens World Series Events:
November 25-26, Gold Coast, Australia
USA pool: South Africa, Australia, Japan
December 2-3, Dubai, UAE
Pools to be drawn November 26
December 9-10, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Pools to be drawn December 3