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The USA 7s program will send a Falcons team to the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championships in the Cayman Islands next week, and that team is all but settled.

USA Head Coach Matt Hawkins has selected a team of players pushing for a USA position in the Sevens World Series, or who just need more playing time. Hawkins will not coach the team, leaving that to Central Washington 7s coach Tony Pacheco.

“The goal is to win,” said Pacheco. “It’s always to win. But at the same time you have other goals and jobs to do, and we’re looking to develop some of these players and help them build on what they’ve been working on.”

The one question-mark on the squad is Shalom Suniula, who is dealing with an injury and will be confirmed once he passes a fitness test. It’s been a tough fall for Suniula, as he was dropped from the USA side that went to the Gold Coast, and now, when he would be expected to captain the Falcons squad to NACRA, he is struggling to be 100 percent.

The entire squad is this:
Nate Augsperger
Tai Enosa
Shalom Suniula
Carlin Isles
Ryan Matyas
Jack Halalilo
Pono Haitsuka
Ben Nichols
Eric Duechle
Nu’u Punimata
Chris Turori
Mike Ziegler

It’s a team that is heavy up front, as Matt Hawkins is looking for a forward to replace him – Hawkins wants’ the “player” part of player-coach removed. Jack Halalilo and Ben Nichols can double up as backs.

Suniula will be locked in a three-way halfback battle with Enosa and Augsperger.

In the backs, Matyas, Isles, and Haitsuka are the main guys.

Some of the players involved have been playing on the IRB circuit, but have struggled to get sufficient playing time. Enosa and Halalilo saw their minutes diminish in Gold Coast, and will be working to get them back. Isles and Matyas didn’t get much time at all, and when they did, they didn’t always see the ball.

“I would like to see those players start as many games as possible,” said Hawkins. “This isn’t the World Series, but it’s international competition where we can get a baseline of where they are.”

This team will play in NACRA and then move on to the Coral Coast 7s in Fiji, where Hawkins will watch the team in person. That will be the selection tournament for Dubai. Obviously, several starting players from Gold Coast are expected to have the inside track on places in Dubai. But there will be opportunities for players in NACRA and Fiji to play their want onto the USA Eagles team.

Men’s NACRA 7s Pools and Day One Schedule
(All times local, which is Eastern Standard Time – note that currently matches Central Daylight Time, but the clocks in the USA change (fall back) on November 3, so the times will match Eastern Time in the US at the time of competition)

Men's Pool A
1. Maple Leafs
2. Barbados
3. Bahamas
4. Turks and Caicos (TCI)

Men's Pool B
1. USA Falcons
2. T&T
3. Cayman
4. Curacao

Men's Pool C
1. Mexico
2. Jamaica
3. Bermuda
4. BVI

GM # Time Pool Matches
5 10:20 MA Maple Leafs v Bahamas
6 10:40 MA Barbados vs TCI
7 11:00 MB USA Falcons v Cayman
8 11:20 MB T&T v Curacao
9 11:40 MC Mexico v Bermuda
10 12:00 MC Jamaica v BVI
15 13:50 MA Maple Leafs v TCI
16 14:10 MA Barbados v Bahamas
17 14:30 MB USA Falcons v Curacao
18 14:50 MB T&T v Cayman
19 15:10 MC Mexico v BVI
20 15:30 MC Jamaica v Bermuda
25 17:20 MA Bahamas v TCI
26 17:40 MA Maple Leafs v Barbados
27 18:00 MB Cayman v Curacao
28 18:20 MB USA Falcons v T&T
29 18:40 MC Bermuda v BVI
30 19:00 MC Mexico v Jamaica