USA Sevens Men


Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Friday, 21 October 2011 12:00    PDF Print Write e-mail
Eagles Pan-Am Roster Announced
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

The Eagles roster for the Pan-Am Games has been announced, and youth is the theme. Notable players left off the list are Paul Emerick, Miles Craigwell and Justin Boyd. Emerick is due to injury, as the long-time Eagle tore his MCL in training. More detail to follow...

1. Mark Bokhoven
2. Blaine Scully
3. Nu'u Punimata
4. Shalom Suniula
5. Zack Test
6. Mile Pulu
7. Rocco Mauer
8. Maka Unufe
9. Folau Niua
10. Peter Tiberio
11. Colin Hawley
12. Roland Suniula

 
Written by Alex Goff    Tuesday, 18 October 2011 19:04    PDF Print Write e-mail
Pan-Am Importance Clear for All
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

During scrimmage time this weekend, Peter Tiberio puts the ball in the scrum. Versatility and health will be critical indicators of which players will get that Pan-Am nod. Jamie Kelm photo.The USA 7s team is going through a series of three-a-days this week to get used to the demands of the Pan-Am games October 29-30.

Not lost on the players is the importance of this tournament. It is the first venture for American rugby into the chilly waters of the Olympics. And this could be a crucial first step. Coming away with a medal is basically expected, but won’t be a walkover.

Coming away with a gold medal is distinctly possible, but means the Eagles will have to get by Canada and Argentina.

Head Coach Al Caravelli is very aware that no game can be overlooked. Brazil has been working and training hard, and is a very physical squad. Chile has been training in South Africa and looks strong. Uruguay, Mexico and Guyana all have IRB World Series experience.

“What we have discussed is all the things we’ve been discussing as a team,” Caravelli told RUGBYMag.com. “Control the ball, be organized on defense and make our tackles, and be strong in the set pieces. We need to play to our game plan, not get emotional, and treat every single game as if it’s the Gold Medal Game.”

Caravelli has an involved team-building process, and said all the players in camp have embraced his way of doing things wholeheartedly. Without Matt Hawkins (injured) and veteran leadership such as Pate Tuilevuka (not eligible for Olympic competition), the USA has to look to others to lead the forwards. Caravelli will ask more of Mark Bokhoven, Nu’u Punimata and Zack Test, as a result.

“I have had to do minimal work on team-building,” said Caravelli. “The veterans have really stepped up, and the guys have really fallen in step.”

So who will be on the Pan-Am team? Caravelli will name the squad October 21, at which point the six players not picked will be sent home, and the remaining 12 will continue to train through to October 24, at which point they will fly to Mexico and take up residence in the Athletes Village.

Here are the players:
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians). Back from injury and looking very fit, Bokhoven has said he will run the ball with more confidence now, and if he combines that with greater dependability on defense, he could dominate games.

Justin Boyd (Belmont Shore). Basically a wing specialist, his understanding of what Caravelli wants in his type of player helps him enormously.

Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach). Is at a crossroads. He has pace and power and could transition to a forward who is a danger out wide.

Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach). A wild card. A candidate for the Fijian national team, this USA-born forward is physically imposing but trained in the wide-open Fijian style.

Paul Emerick (Life University). The best back at the Rugby World Cup for the USA. He will bring everything he can playing either at center or prop … if he can stay healthy after a grueling past few months.

Colin Hawley (Olympic Club). Not used much in New Zealand, Hawley seems more at ease playing 7s for the Eagles. He has played flyhalf, center and wing, as well as prop and hooker. That versatility will make him an even better candidate.

Duncan Kelm (Belmont Shore). Can play in the forwards and backs. Has a lot of work to do to break into this group.

Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions). Has been close to the national team right now. Injuries might open the door for him, as does his pace.

Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate). Has been playing superbly this summer and fall. He is left-footed, so he can throw in a wrinkle as a restart kicker. Can play scrumhalf and flyhalf, and is super quick.

Don Pati (University of Utah). In 7s, Pati is less a pure scrumhalf as he is just an overall attacking threat. He can sidestep, pass, defend. He is powerfully built. His versatility again is good for his chances.

Nu'u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach). Could potentially be the lynchpin in the forwards. Not tall like Bokhoven, Hawley or Test, he is strong, deceptively quick, and very physical.

Milemoti Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate). Was at one point the best 7s player on the USA team. Tumult regarding his availability meant he didn’t build on that momentum. What would be wonderful would be to install him at center and leave him alone.

Blaine Scully (Unattached). One of a group who played in the Rugby World Cup, and as a result you wonder about the conversion from 15s to 7s, not to mention the potential for injury. Has outstanding open field skills and can also play as a 7s forward.

Roland Suniula (Boston). Like Pulu, could do well to simply slot in as center for the 7s team and that’s it.

Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore). Looks set to be either scrumhalf or flyhalf; either way he’ll be on the field.

Zack Test (At Large). Can play prop, hooker or wing, and on the restart, if he’s on with his timing with the kickers, is as good as anyone in the world at nabbing restart kicks out of the air, and can often just waltz in for a try. That skill is highly valuable.

Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona). Very quick, smart, and versatile. He will be in a battle with Shalom Suniula, Don Pati and Niua Folau for the scrumhalf position.

Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors). A still raw but astounding talent. Deceptively fast, audacious, and good ball skills. Very young, and to put him in the high-pressure venue of the Pan-Am Games might be a risk. But, then again, you never know. If you put him on the squad as an impact sub, he could destroy teams late.

But think on this that Caravelli said Monday:
“We will take no experiments,” he said. “We have really great depth at this camp, and I will be selecting 12 players who can start at any time. I know out of this group I can get 12 players I am very, very comfortable with.”

 

 

 

 

 
Written by Alex Goff    Monday, 17 October 2011 17:16    PDF Print Write e-mail
Pan-Am Camp Opens for USA 7s Team
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

Eighteen players are in camp in Chula Vistal, Calif. to prepare for the Pan-American Games.

The players scrimmaged a group of local players Sunday as they started their ten-day camp in anticipation of their October 29-30 Pan-Am Games tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico.


PRE PAN-AMERICAN GAMES CAMP ROSTER | CHULA VISTA, CALIF. | OCT. 14-24

Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians)
Justin Boyd (Belmont Shore)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Paul Emerick (Life University)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
Duncan Kelm (Belmont Shore)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Don Pati (University of Utah)
Nu'u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Milemoti Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Blaine Scully (Unattached)
Roland Suniula (Boston)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore)
Zack Test (At Large)
Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors)


Unavailable due to injury:

Matthew Hawkins (Belmont Shore)
Greg Ambrogi (Schyulkill River)



Photos from Sunday's sessions. Jamie Kelm photos.


 
Written by Alex Goff    Wednesday, 05 October 2011 00:37    PDF Print Write e-mail
Bokhoven Works His Way Back
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

It’s been a long time since February, when Mark Bokhoven injured his knee during the USA 7s in Las Vegas, but every day he had a reminder of how much work he had to do, and on what timeline, to get back.

Bokhoven wants to run with the ball more. Ian Muir photo
Chasing a ball v. Italy. Ian Muir photo

The loss of the big, rangy 7s forward, along with that of Nu’u Punimata, put the Eagles in a difficult position in that tournament, and thereafter as his versatility and knowledge of Al Caravelli’s system were sorely missed.

But as important as the IRB World Series was, and is, the Pan-Am Games is perhaps more important. Bokohven made it back just in time for the recent Pan-Am preparation camp – he was not even named to the pool because Caravelli wasn’t sure he’d be ready – and just in time is good enough for everyone.

A player dedicated to his fitness, Bokhoven has been injured too much in the last few years to be a consistent star for the Eagles 7s team. But now he has to be. Matt Hawkins is still working his way back from injury, and suddenly Bokhoven and Zack Test are the two most experienced forwards trying to make the team.

“I had surgery on February 24, and spent the time until about June rehabbing and getting healthy,” said the Denver Barbarian. “I needed to keep my legs strong for when I could run. And starting in june I was able to run and I just ran more and more and more, getting back into shape.”

The biggest concern was his ability to change direction, and once he could do that, his confidence soared.

“I started with controlled cutting and then by August I could do it fully,” he explained. “You know you think about it when you are going to do it for the first time. I was nervous, but then you go out to play and you just do it and when I was playing, it didn’t cross my mind.”

Bokhoven joined his club in practice in the summer, playing touch and still easing his way back. It wasn’t until he went to Caravelli’s camp in September that he went back into full contact.

Caravelli was very pleased, saying Bokhoven had obviously been working hard to get ready and looked fit and strong. Just in time, too, as his leadership as well as his athleticism will be needed at the Pan-Am Games.

“Being in more of a leadership role is fine for me,” he said. “I have captained at Denver and with the West before. We have other guys with experience, and I think Zack Test is a good leader; Shalom Suniula is a quiet guy off the field but really vocal and a good leader on it. So we’ve got guys. What I’d like to do is take more responsibility with the ball. I would like to attack more, use my speed and fend some guys off before hitting support. That’s something I know I’m capable of doing but I haven’t done it as much for the USA.”

Caravelli feels the same way, having showed Bokhoven film of the 7s prop outflanking defenders for tries – just not often enough.

If he can return to the Eagles with the right kind of fitness and form, and combine all that with confidence, Bokhoven could have a breakout year. And if he does, the Pan-Am Games is the place to start.

“If I get to go to the Pan-Ams I think it will be the highlight of my career,” he said. “I know I will probably be too old for the Olympics in 2016 – we keep joking about who can get on the team support staff to be there. So to be part of the first Olympic-type, multisport event, and I hope win a medal, maybe gold, is a dream come true. When I did my knee I put on my fridge a note showing how many days until the Pan-Am Games. It was motivation for me. Every day I woke up, got ready for my workouts, and looked at that. I know only wanted to be fit; I wanted to be a better rugby player, and I wanted to be part of Team USA, that Olympic team. To be part of that would be unbelievable.”

 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:19    PDF Print Write e-mail
USA 7s Team Pool Named
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

Boulder, Colo. – USA Men’s Sevens coach, Al Caravelli, has named three player pools for the 2011-2012 international rugby sevens season: a pool for the 2011 Pan-Am Games; a pool for the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series; and a developmental squad.


Al Caravelli looks for some warmups and development options. Numina PhotoSELECTION
In Caravelli’s fifth year as head coach of Team USA, he has developed a system and network of scouts to identify talent coming through the ranks.  Those scouting reports paired with Caravelli’s first-hand evaluations all play into selection.

From May to August, Caravelli has scoured sevens tournaments and qualification events for the men’s club and all-star national championships that took place in August to monitor player form and work to identify which players will be invited to a camp.

Changes to USA Rugby eligibility regulations allowed Caravelli to look at more players in this year’s sevens competitions, specifically the rule change that allows college players to join competitive men’s club sevens teams without affecting collegiate eligibility.

PLAYER POOLS
The Pan-Am and HSBC Sevens World Series pools are very similar, with only a few additional players included in the latter.

“The combination of the three pools is where we will draw players from to compete in this year’s Sevens World Series,” Caravelli said.

The developmental pool consists of players who are on the cusp of breaking into the international ranks.  Continued exposure to the Olympic training environment will allow these players, who are going to be based in San Diego, a chance to adapt to that environment and continue to work on skills at team assemblies.

With the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., approximately 25 minutes from San Diego, these athletes would have access to world-class training facilities and would be able to participate in Team USA camps.

“If we could get as many players as possible to move to San Diego that would be a big shot in the arm for the national program. It would enable us to train every day after everyone’s workday. Even if we only train for an hour a day it would be great. We all know it’s a big life-changing decision but one of several we will need to make if we are to succeed,” Caravelli said.

A group of collegiate players have played their way onto Caravelli’s radar and will join camps and possibly HSBC Sevens World Series tours as their academic schedules allow.  Caravelli recognizes the value in giving players experience at the highest level during their collegiate careers.

“This has worked well for us in the past with student-athletes. Players like Blaine Scully, Colin Hawley, Steve St. Pierre, Ryan Roundy, Taylor Mokate, and Peter Tiberio have been able to join the national team while enrolled in college. 

Two other players who haven’t made the national team as of yet, Don Pati and Rocco Mauer, have also attended camps during the academic year and they continue to grow as athletes.”

Last year both Tiberio and Mokate were able to travel to Hong Kong and Adelaide as that leg of the Series coincided with their respective spring breaks.

Caravelli tends to select a handful of collegiate-level players ready to compete at the international level to the London and Scotland World Series tournaments in May as the academic year is over for most college kids.

2011-2012 SCHEDULE
The 2011 Pan-American Games are the first challenge on the men’s sevens schedule.  The two-day tournament will be the USA’s first taste of Olympic-style rugby with the Pan-Am Games structure mirroring that of the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. 

The main feature of that format is that it awards 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, that is, it doesn’t have a plate, bowl, or cup as the World Series does.  Day one sees teams play their pool opponents for seeding on day two.  Day two is the playoffs, with teams competing outside their pool and vying for gold, silver, and bronze.

The recent All-Star Sevens National Championships held in late August were played in that structure, giving players and Caravelli the chance to experience the Pan-Am Games format.

“I really want to thank the Club Strategic Committee and the Territorial Unions (TUs) along with their coaches for playing the All-Star Sevens tournament identical to the Pan-Am Games. 

I know it wasn’t an easy format, but it followed the (Pan-Am Games) structure to the tee and I again thank everyone involved,” Caravelli said, recognizing the efforts that territorial and local area unions have made to improving the quality of sevens rugby across the board.

Following the Pan-Am Games, the team will have a quick turnaround and return to camp on Nov. 11 to prepare for the HSBC Sevens World Series.

In 2011-2012, the World Series will have nine tournaments, with the Tokyo Sevens adding another stop to the previous eight-tournament Series schedule. The first stop of the Series is now in the Gold Coast (Australia) in November with Dubai and Port Elizabeth (South Africa) making up the first leg of the tournament.
________________________________________

SEPTEMBER
Sept. 21-25: Pan-Am Player Pool Skills and Fitness camp (Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista, Calif.)

OCTOBER
Oct.  8-9: Central Coast Sevens Tournament (Brisbane, Australia)**
Oct.  14- 25: Final Pan-Am Camp (OTC, Chula Vista, Calif.)
Oct 21: Final Pan-Am Squad Announced
Oct 28: 12 Man Pan-Am Squad Departs for Guadalajara, Mexico
Oct: 28-29: 2011 Pan-Am Games (Guadalajara, Mexico)
Oct. 31: Pan-Am Squad recovery day (OTC, Chula Vista, Calif.)

NOVEMBER
Nov. 11: Training Camp for Gold Coast, Dubai, and Port Elizabeth stops of HSBC Sevens World Series (OTC, Chula Vista, Calif.)
Nov 25-26: Gold Coast Sevens (Gold Coast, Australia)*

DECEMBER
Dec. 2-3: Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)*
Dec. 9-10: South Africa Sevens (Port Elizabeth, South Africa)*

FEBRUARY 2012
Feb. 3-4: Wellington Sevens (Wellington, New Zealand)*
Feb. 10-12: USA Sevens (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)*

MARCH
March 23-25: Hong Kong Sevens (Hong Kong, China)*
March 31- April 1: Tokyo Sevens (Tokyo, Japan)*

MAY
May 5-6: Edinburgh Sevens (Edinburgh, Scotland)*
May 12-13: London Sevens (London, England)*

* Denotes an HSBC Sevens World Series tournament
**Tenative
________________________________________

2011 Pan-Am Games Player Pool
Justin Boyd (Belmont Shore)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Paul Emerick (Life University)
Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
Duncan Kelm (Belmont Shore)
Nese Malifa (Glendale)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors)
James Paterson (Highlanders, New Zealand)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Mile Pulu (East Palo Alto)
Blaine Scully (At Large)
Roland Suniula (Boston)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore)
Zack Test (Unattached)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors)
Don Pati (Univ. of Utah)

Considered for Pan-Am but Currently Unavailable Due to Injury:
Matt Hawkins (Belmont Shore)
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians)
Peter Tiberio (Chicago Lions)
Taylor Mokate (University of Oklahoma)
Alex Ross (Belmont Shore)
Greg Ambrogi (Schuylkill River) 

Cameron Dolan (Life University)

Ben Leatigaga (Army)

HSBC Sevens World Series Pool
Greg Ambrogi  (Schuylkill River)

Marco Barnard (At Large)
Garrett Bender (Eastside Banshees)

Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians)
Justin Boyd (Belmont Shore)

Curtis Chaffin (Dallas Harlequins)

Corey Council (Gentlemen of Aspen)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach)

Cameron Dolan (Life University)
Andrew Durutalo (Hakuoh University Rugby Club)
JP Eloff (Davenport University)
Paul Emerick (Life University)
Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
Matt Hawkins (Belmont Shore)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club) 

Bubba Jones (St. Mary’s College of California)
Duncan Kelm (Belmont Shore)
Garrett Lambert (Life University)

Ben Leatigaga (Army)
Nese Malifa (Glendale)

Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions)

Taylor Mokate (Univ. of Oklahoma)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors)
Don Pati (University of Utah)
James Patterson (Highlanders)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Mile Pulu (East Palo Alto)

Alex Ross (Belmont Shore)
Blaine Scully (At Large)
Roland Suniula (Boston)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore) 

Apelu So’oalo (Marist Hawaii)
Zack Test (Unattached)

Peter Tiberio (Univ. of Arizona) 

Alipate Tuilevuka (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors)

College Players Available as Schooling allows:
J.P. Eloff (Davenport University)
Don Pati (Univ. of Utah)
Bubba Jones (St. Mary’s College of California)
Curtis Chaffin (Dallas Harlequins)
Garrett Lambert (Life University)
Cameron Dolan (Life University)

Developmental Squad
Garrett Bender (Eastside Banshees)
Luke Thiem (Chicago Lions)
Apelu So’oalo (Marist Hawaii)
Taylor Lanigan (Old Mission Bay Athletic Club)
Corey Council (Gentlemen of Aspen)

 


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