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CHULA VISTA, CA - After months of rest, they dazzled audiences with a 2nd place finish in the Silicon Valley Sevens Tournament at Avaya Stadium. Then, they took a life-changing trip as a team to build a home for an underprivileged family in Rosarito, Mexico as part of a humanitarian project with Hope Sports. Now, Head Coach Mike Friday takes an inspired and unified group of Men's Seven's Eagles into the first leg of the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens Tournament, beginning Dec. 1.
The time off, impressive performance in Northern California and moving experience in Mexico has given both new and returning Eagles the edge they need to begin pool play (Pool D). Acknowledging the immediate impact he can see on his team, Friday notes traveling with a squad of athletes who have clearly evolved.
"It was an incredibly moving experience for the boys to assist in providing a family in need with a new home and a new beginning. They realize how fortunate they are to play, and do something they love for a living," Friday mentioned.
The renewed Eagles have a challenging set of Day 1 matchups waiting for them in Dubai. With contests against Argentina, Somoa and New Zealand, Coach Friday and his squad will take the pitch with a strategy that allows them to be effective not only during this tournament, but throughout the series; with eyes on the upcoming 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
"The pool we are in is the most physically aggressive and demanding. We are under no illusion how tough a task we have in the series opener and we'll take every game as it comes in order to sell ourselves," said Friday.
Headlining the squad as Captain is Madison Hughes who, having served as Captain during the last Series, leads his fellow Eagles to build on their record 5th place finish from 2016-17, the highest-ever for the Americans.
2017 World Rugby Player of the Year Nominee Perry Baker, who stands as 2nd all time in American History with 133 tries scored suits up also; joining fellow speedy Eagle, Carlin Isles.
Rounding out a group of talented Eagles is Folau Niua, World Rugby's "One to Watch" from the 2017 Series finale in London, traveling to Dubai for his 52nd tournament appearance.
USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS ROSTER | Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens
1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Joe Schroeder
6. Malon Al Jiboori
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (Captain)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Naima Fualaau
USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS STAFF | Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens
Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Chris Brown
Physio - Brian Green
Team Analyst - Paul Goulding
Team Manager - Scott Novack