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Friday, 17 June 2011 18:42    PDF Print Write e-mail
South Shore 7s Starts NRU Season
Sevens - Club Sevens

Kyle Marshall leads Boston into another summer. Dobson ImagesThe first Northeast RFU 7s qualifier gets underway in Braintree, Mass. Saturday with the South Shore 7s.

It’s not a big Qualifier field, as five teams battle for points leading to the NRU championship and a place in the National 7s Club Championships.

NYAC has decided not to play 7s this summer, and Mystic River, which qualified for the national tournament last year, isn’t in Braintree, either. Instead Boston is fielding two teams, and Old Blue, Middlesex and Cape Cod round out the Qualifier field.

Boston Head Coach Kevin Immonje is particularly excited about his team.

“We have some good young players from colleges around the Northeast,” Immonje told RUGBYMag.com. “And we add to that some very experienced players – we have a lot of experience – and we’ve got a deep squad.”

Kyle Marshall, who played for the USA 7s team in Dubai, Duran Vota, who has been in USA camps before, join Derrick Wavomba and Brennan Moore in a core group that has been to two straight national tournaments.

“We gave these guys some time off after the Super League season, but we’re getting back in it nopw, and I feel good about it,” said Immonje.

Newcomers to the club roster include collegians Sam Rabb (Brown), Collin Yip (BC), Julian Rowlands (Rutgers) and Garrett Lincoln (Gettysburg College). Meanwhile some players from other clubs or cities are also coming to Boston, including Mystic’s Adnan Kawama.

The same story goes on at Old Blue, where NYAC 7s aficionado Dave Rader will bolster their forwards, and Penn State standout Kevin Kimble heads a college crop that includes Bobby McMahon (Columbia), Robert Keehn (UNH) and Johannes Cronje (Rutgers).

It’s the usual migration of players looking for 7s opportunities during the summer. Boston, with two teams entered into the South Shore 7s, hopes to provide not only opportunity, but some victories.

 
Friday, 17 June 2011 14:06    PDF Print Write e-mail
Golden Gate Serious about 7s
Sevens - Club Sevens

The San Francisco Golden Gate club is ramping up its 7s efforts this summer, after not competing in 2010.

New 7s Head Coach Jone Naqica, who remains the top all-time USA points-scorer in the IRB Sevens World Series, is assembling a talented squad of players from the SFGG Super League as well as area colleges.

Central to the team will likely be longtime scrumhalf Mose Timoteo and players such as Tevita Okusi and possibly Danny LaPrevotte and Mile Pulu.

But what SFGG needs is competition, and to do that they’ve set up their own 7s tournament for July 2 at Treasure Island.

“We need to have a competitive tournament with serious teams,” said Naqica. “We want to qualify for nationals, that’s the first goal. And we want to have a tournament where everyone plays four games, and goes for a trophy.”

The tournament is the Nesquik Golden Gate Invitational, and will be held at Sheeran Field on Treasure Island July 2. Registration is at www.sfggrugby.com

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 17 June 2011 12:24    PDF Print Write e-mail
Q&A With Paul Emerick
National Teams - USA Men

On the eve of the Eagles Churchill Cup finale with Russia, RUGBYMag.com’s Pat Clifton touched base with Eagle center Paul Emerick. Looking to play in his third World Cup this fall, Emerick is slotted to start at outside center for the USA Saturday.

PC: How’s the team morale coming off the tough Saxons and Tonga losses?

Emerick: Needless to say the first couple performances were pretty rough. We’ve had a little over a week to get things right and we’ve been putting the time in on the field, with some long days and a couple double days, and we’re looking forward to not only play like we know how to play but to try and pick up a win as well.


PC: You’ve been an Eagle for some time now, was that Saxons/Tonga stretch over the course of four days the toughest you’ve been through?

Emerick:
They seem to do that to us every World Cup year. They did it to us in ‘03, they did it to us in ‘07 and they’re going to do it to us in this upcoming one. It’s nothing new to me, and also playing with a couple club teams in Wales, we’ve done the whole three games in eight days, but it’s just tough. It’s a tough turnaround, so you try and manage the guys and try and keep them fresh.

PC: What has been your mantra this past week, what have you been focusing on since Tonga?

Emerick: We’ve just got to get guys in the right places and organized a little bit better and stick with our systems, because when we’re executing our game plan we look pretty good. When we’re off our game plan and guys are kind of off doing their own thing, they’re not in the defensive line or whatever, then it looks pretty bad, so the mantra’s been all about defensively staying in our line, making our first-up tackles and playing the pattern that Eddie’s got laid out for us.

PC: After the way you guys lost to the Saxons and Tonga, is anybody freaking out?

Emerick:
Everyone’s kind of feeling pressure, because this is pretty much one of the last looks you’re going to get before the World Cup squad is decided, and we’re missing some players from overseas, so it’s important not only that you play well, but that you also play within Eddie’s systems. No one’s freaking out, and we’re just trying to do our best to get things done.

PC: As a veteran who’s been to a pair of World Cups, are some of the younger guys who are trying to get to their first coming to you for advice?

Emerick: It’s been happening to me more and more, guys who are just graduating college or a year or two out of college, and just kind of asking about how I got overseas and the kind of trials an tribulations I went through, and I’m here to give advice, but I think each person’s situation is a little bit unique and different, but I try and help out as much as I can, definitely.

PC: For those of you that came straight from sevens, your last 11 games in a USA uniform has been a loss. Is that weighing down on you, or are you able to separate the 7s losses from 15s losses?

Emerick: The London/Scotland sevens, man. If you looked at it on paper you would think we’d have one of the best squads assembled we’ve had in a long time, and we just didn’t jell, and it’s pretty unfortunate to finish the 7s season with an 0-5 appearance in Scotland, but we had some close games. Apart form that Scotland games we played all e the rest of the games were within a score and two of them we got beat in the last 30 seconds in the game, but tough losses to swallow.

I thought the Tonga game we really underperformed, 10-13 at half and then we gave up some soft tries and we coughed the ball up twice when we were knocking on the goal line. We were definitely in that game and take our lessons learned from it, and we’re all looking forward to giving Russia a run and getting a W.

PC:
How does the fact that you’re playing Russia for the second time in roughly a year, and the third time will come in just a few months in the World Cup, affect your preparation for Saturday?

Emerick:
Me personally, it’s not changing my approach. I’m going to run hard and make my tackles and execute my part in the game plan, and as far as the team game plan and Eddie and that goes, we just need to get a basic game plan executed, and once we get that going we can start putting in wrinkles and feeling comfortable to deviate from it and be a bit more just playing rugby rather than just playing a very strict plan. We’ve got to get the basic patterns down before we can really start playing some expansive rugby and stuff, so that’s what we’re doing right now.

 
Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 17 June 2011 13:42    PDF Print Write e-mail
Can USA Professionalize 7s Team?
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

Numina PhotoUSA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville has told RUGBYMag.com that the National Governing Body is close to being able to professionalize the national 7s team.

Melville said he expects to see the women’s team expand its activities and probably participate in a four-event world circuit next season. Meanwhile the men’s team is expected to have to devote more time to 7s, what with the Pan-Am Games leading directly into the first three tournaments o the 2011-2012 IRB 7s season, Australia, Dubai and South Africa, and a rumored expanded HSBC Sevens World Series.

What is known for sure for the rest of 2011 is a busy calendar. Any player who is on both the USA 15s and 7s team will be in assembly from May through December with breaks only in July and November.
“There are understanding employers, but I can’t think of an employer that would stand for a employee being away that much,” Melville told RUGBYMag.com.

These players will have to be paid, and USA Rugby can do it by diverting IRB High Performance moneys to the 7s program (not for wages, but for other expenses), getting low-cost or freebie facilities through the United States Olympic Committee, sponsorship money, grants, and specific assistance from the USOC.

The 2016 Olympic cycle does not start until after the 2012 Games. But USA Rugby will be meeting with the USOC in August to discuss the need for a foundation for the 7s rugby team now – just as Great Britain, Canada, Russia and other Olympic Committees have done.

“I firmly believe that the next step for us in 7s is to professionalize the team,” Melville said. “In the last four years the program has improved greatly but in many ways they have over-performed. We’re a 5th to 12th-ranked team right now, and we’re probably the only core team that’s not professional. In order to keep pace with this and in order for us to qualify for the Olympics in 2016, I think we need to be a top-six team, and to do that we have to have them in a full-time training environment, and that means making them professional.”

Melville will present his list of needs to the USOC in August, but he hinted at being in talks with sponsors also to help fund the squad. Making the 7s team fill-time will cost around $2 million, Melville said. That is about 25-30 percent of USA Rugby’s current budget (a previous editing error had this number at 40%).

The commitment to professionalize the men’s 7s team, and increase support of the women’s 7s team, also means a shift in emphasis for USA Rugby. Like many rugby nations, the USA sees a quicker path to international success through 7s. The women’s 7s team was third in the world in 2009, while the men’s team has beaten every major rugby nation in 7s except New Zealand and South Africa. The women’s 15s team of course has had some remarkable international success, but the men’s 15s team has only ever beaten one team in the current IRB Top 10, #10 Fiji in 1999.

“After this year the emphasis will change more to 7s,” said Melville. ”There’s a growing momentum in that direction. There are more global opportunities for 7s than 15s. The IRB 7s circuit is year-round; we have to remain competitive in that. There’s been a sea change in how unions approach the game. About 90%, probably more, are now looking at 7s being more cost-efficient than 15s, and offering a better opportunity to compete with the top teams in the world. Things have to be different after the [15s] World Cup.”

That will also mean a change in pay scale for national team coaches will change. Right now RUGBYMag.com estimates are that over 80% of national team coaching salaries are being directed to the men’s 15s team. Most Olympic National Governing Bodies pay their men’s and women’s coaches almost equally, but USA Rugby pays WNT coaches less than $20,000 a year. It certainly seems likely that USA Rugby will adjust its pay structure to bring all four senior team coaches to a more even pay scale, and also allocate assistant coaches more evenly as well.

Melville said he will be involved in helping assess players for the program, and added that just paying players doesn’t make them better. The key, he and coaches have said, is to have them in a consistent, effective training environment, where they don’t have to worry about feeding their family or paying their mortgage.

RUGBYMag.com has reported on similar plans before. Is this a pipe dream?

Melville said no.

“How close are we?” he questioned. “We’re pretty close.”


 
Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 17 June 2011 11:17    PDF Print Write e-mail
First Territorial Combine Sunday in Chicago
Sevens - Club Sevens

The first of several sevens combines set up by Men’s National Team coach Al Caravelli is being hosted by the Chicago Lions Sunday. Over 100 players have pre-registered for the workout, which will include the 20-meter Yo-Yo, a 10-meter sprint, 40-meter sprint and a rugby acumen assessment. Caravelli said based on the level of skill at the camp, there may also be a period or two of live action.  

The combine, organized by Lions 7s coach Aaron Manheimer, is designed to give Caravelli a look at more athletes and potential Eagles. The workout is open to anyone, both rugby players and non-rugby players, ages 15 or older.

“This isn’t just non-rugby guys. This is anybody. Anybody 15-years-old on up,” said Caravelli. “We get a kid who’s a stud at 15, 16, he might not make the National Team, but we can start to track him now. And we might be missing some stud rugby players. That’s why it’s an open registration.”

Seven more camps are in the works:

The MARFU all-star coaches are hosting one in Wilmington, Del. June 26 in conjunction with their all-star tryouts.

The South is hosting theirs in Sunday July 3 in conjunction with Cape Fear 7s in Wilmington, NC. Caravelli will not be present for this one, but assistant Andy Katoa will be.

Three more, in Austin, Texas, Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest are planned, but no dates have been set. Northern California and Utah are still possible combine sites.

 


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