The USA 7s team will not run scrimmages this week as they prepare for the New Zealand 7s in Wellington this weekend.
Head Coach Al Caravelli decided to ramp down his pre-tournament scrimmaging during December and will do the same this week, trying to save wear and tear on the players’ bodies.
“We beat them up pretty good in camp,” Caravelli told RUGBYMag.com. And indeed they did.
Defensive specialist Dave Ellis spent time with the team in camp and defense has been the watchword all through the USA’s preparation.
“The biggest thing we’ve been working on is to try to improve our defense,” said Caravelli. “You look at the latest IRB stats and we are one of the best teams in scoring tries from our own half. We can put together strings. But we need to improve our defensive organization and improve ourselves in the contact area.”
So it’s that simple. The USA team had been tackling and getting stuck into the contact in Chula Vista. Now the Eagles are cutting back on the contact and working on communication and organization.
They feel they can score tries, and in fact with the addition of Roland Suniula and Maka Unufe, they’ve added some heat to their attack.
The true test of what they have done will be more on the defensive side of the ball.
And it won’t be easy. The USA play South Africa in the first match of the entire tournament, Friday 1pm local time (that’s Thursday 4pm PT, 7pm ET). They have never beaten South Africa.
Then they follow that up with England at 4:18pm local time (7:18pm Thursday PT, 10:18pm Thursday ET), and then the Cook Islands just before 10pm Pacific Time.
These teams are not unfamiliar with the Eagles. In the first four tournaments of the 2011-2012 season, the USA will have played South Africa three times. The first two games were losses of 17-12 and 36-7. They have also been drawn with England, losing 26-7 in South Africa.