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Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 18 November 2011 15:37    PDF Print Write e-mail
Kelm to Punch Above His Weight as Eagle
RUGBYmag Premier - Profiles and Interviews

Kelm as an All American in 2010. Ian Muir photo

He’s not a big guy. Former San Diego State All American Duncan Kelm weighs in the neighborhood of 210 pounds, but that’s pretty small for a front row specialist, even in 7s. However, it’s as a forward Kelm will likely earn his first cap for the United States.

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 18 November 2011 14:42    PDF Print Write e-mail
Florida Cup Finals This Weekend
Colleges - Men's DI College

The Florida Cup semifinals and finals take place Saturday and Sunday in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Cup is a friendly competition pitting the DI-AA schools from Florida against each other, culminating in a title game. It has no bearing on the postseason for any of the schools, as they all begin conference play in the spring semester, but bragging rights and the opportunity to improve are always on the line.

“It’s the same approach we’ve always used before – to develop a team and develop our rookies, so that we can be ready to play in the spring time,” said Florida coach Ken Simmons of his approach to the Florida Cup.

“And what we’ve found is a lot of the other Florida teams are the same way. If we get them something to play for in the fall, everybody plays a lot harder in the fall, and I think you may find, in that SIRC conference, you may have some Florida teams in the hunt this year.”

Two of those Florida teams who will be battling in the South Independent Rugby Conference next year play in the other semifinal – Florida International and Central Florida. The Bulls’ only loss this fall came at the hands of Florida, and the Panthers’ only loss was to Florida State.

 
Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 18 November 2011 10:56    PDF Print Write e-mail
7s Team Changes Forced, and by Choice
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

Back on the squad, Miles Craigwell. Ian Muir photo.USA 7s Head Coach Al Caravelli might have wanted to turn around with most, if not all, of the Pan-Am squad for the beginning of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

But it was not to be. With Roland Suniula, Blaine Scully and Mile Pulu injured, and Maka Unufe and Rocco Mauer both running into issues that made them unavailable, Caravelli was forced into some changes.

He also made some voluntary ones, choosing to drop, for now, Nu’u Punimata and Justin Boyd.

So six of the 12 that won bronze at the Pan-Am Games are not going to Gold Coast, Dubai, and Port Elizabeth.

In their place, Caravelli has brought in Miles Craigwell, Mike Palefau, Matt Hawkins, Nick Edwards, Tai Enosa and Duncan Kelm.

Only Craigwell and Kelm aren't coming back from injury.

The coach said some of these players would surely have made the team if everyone was healthy. But it’s still good to have backup when the injuries hit. Consider the center position, where Roland Suniula, Pulu, and Paul Emerick left a big hole. It’s good that Palefau, available for the first time in years, can step in.

On the wing, Edwards is back after a year away from the team. He is experienced and savvy, and beats out Mauer because of that.

Meanwhile Enosa brings great versatility as a back. He can play scrumhalf, flyhalf and center, and is as good as any player at sidestepping through traffic.

Craigwell was flat-out dropped for Pan-Ams, The wing is trying to convert to hooker, and hasn’t made the switch entirely. But his play at the Carlton 7s Series in Sri Lanka showed he can play as a forward, and his physicality will be welcome on the team.

Hawkins looked to be struggling with his form coming back, but Caravelli said last year’s captain had an outstanding camp. His savvy at the breakdown will be useful.

Then there’s Duncan Kelm. Perhaps overlooked despite being at many USA camps, the former San Diego State All American stood out because of his defense and his decision-making.

Caravelli didn’t agree with the premise that this is not as fast a group as the team that went to Guadalajara. Despite the USA being without Unufe and Mauer, said Caravelli, the USA team is, overall, faster.

The team is, overall bigger and more physical. Asked whether that was on purpose as the USA faces the tougher defenses of the World Series, Caravelli shook his head.

“I said before I could see that Pan Ams team going on to the series,” he explained. “I pick the best players, and if all those players from Pan Ams were available, this team might have been similar to that one. You select guys on form, and this is the team on form.”

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 18 November 2011 11:37    PDF Print Write e-mail
Men's College POW: Justin Patterson
Colleges - College News

Justin Patterson is our RUGBYMag.com college player of the week. The junior scrumhalf led UW-Whitewater to its third-straight Midwest title Sunday, scoring two tries in the Warhawks’ 31-18 win over Northern Illinois in the territorial final.

The Midwest title marks the Warhawks’ third with Patterson starting at No. 9, which he did during Whitewater’s undefeated national championship run last season. Whitewater coach Pat O’Connor nominated Patterson for his, “distribution, running ability, scoring, tackling and overall presence on the field.”

Aside from being a terrific player, Patterson is also a proven leader, says O’Connor. “He’s good at motivating the guys, setting an example for them by leading out front. He’s a guy they all respect.”

Patterson and Whitewater remain the top-ranked team in DII, and most likely will until their Sweet 16 match against the West's second seed in the spring.

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 18 November 2011 09:36    PDF Print Write e-mail
Empire 7s to Decide Final National Bid
Sevens - Collegiate Sevens

Stony Brook beating Texas in Las Vegas. Numina photo

The final qualifying tournament for the inaugural USA Rugby college 7s national championship is being hosted Saturday by Stony Brook in Long Island, NY. All Empire Conference teams are expected to be in attendance, except for Syracuse and Buffalo, and Navy, American International College, Temple and Albany are the non-Empire teams slated to compete.

The field will be broken into four pools of three with the top eight at the end of pool play advancing to quarterfinals.Saturday's champion will earn an automatic bid to the national championships Dec. 16-17 in College Station, Texas.

The host Seawolves are hungry to show off their 7s skills, as Stony Brook is a program that fancies 7s and its abilities in 7s. The Seawolves competed in the Collegiate Rugby Championship qualifier in Las Vegas in February, knocking off Texas and reaching the quarterfinal round. The experience has whetted their appetite.

“Anytime you can play at that level it brings your game up and then you find out where you’re at, and we know that we can play at that level, there’s no doubt about it,” said Stony Brook coach Jerry Mirro. “That’s going to be a huge plus, especially when you have teams like Navy who has the experience of playing in the CRC already.”

Navy is one of Empire 7s’ two teams, the other being Temple, who have played in the CRC. Neither have done particularly well in the competitions, which is part of the reason the Midshipmen have signed up for Saturday’s event.

“I think it’s something that’s necessary for us to do. Let’s face it, our CRC thing hasn’t been as great as it needs to be or should be, as with probably a lot of teams,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan.

“That’s the venue where you want to go to shine. You want to go to Philly on the national spotlight and play some rugby that makes it look like you know what you’re doing, so I think that’s one of the things we have to do. And that’s the beauty of having a fall non-competitive season, is that we can focus some time on playing a little bit of 7s and have some fun.”

Along with experience playing high-level 7s, Navy will be helped out by the presence of freshman Jack McAuliffe. The former Gonzaga high school star also competed in Las Vegas in February, where he strapped on a high school All American jersey and helped lead the age-grade Eagles to a tournament championship over Canadian talent.

If Navy wins Saturday, coach Mike Flanagan is unsure if the Midshipmen will be able to attend the national championships.

“That’s a university issue. I’m not convinced that’s something the Academy’s going to want to do,” he said. “I’m not sold on the timing of that. That’s something I’ve always wanted – a fall 7s culminating in a championship and spring 15s – but I think the timing of that could be prohibitive for us, frankly, but we’ll see.”

If Stony Brook wins, the Seawolves will gladly accept their bid, Mirro said.

 


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