USA Men's 7s team coach Al Caravelli now has some choices to make looking ahead to his international 7s season.
Coming up will be the Pan-Am Games October 29-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. After that will be a nine-event IRB Sevens World Series. Caravelli wants to name a player pool from which he will draw players for these events. That pool, expected to be named in about a week, will give all the players the understanding that they need to be fit and ready to play throughout the season.
After this weekend's National All-Star Championships, Caravelli kept 20 players after school (in a good way) to scrimmage early Sunday morning. It would have been 21, but Maka Unufe picked up a slight injury and Caravelli opted to sit him out.
The players played two periods, one ten minutes, the second, a whopping 13, to see how some could handle the stress on their conditioning, and to give him time to slot in subs.
Pate Tuilevuka Pac Coast
Bubba Jones All Americans
Garrett Lambert All Americans
Curtis Chaffin West
Folau Niua Pac Coast
Apelu So'oalo Southern California
Justin Boyd Southern California
Rocco Mauer in for Boyd
Mike Palefau in for Soalo
Will Holder in for Jones
Nu’u Punimata in for Lambert
Miles Craigwell Pac Coast
Duncan Kelm All Americans
Lucas Thiem Midwest
JP Eloff All Americans
Dom Wareing Northeast
Mile Pulu Pac Coast
Corey Council Southern California
Garrett Bender in for Thiem
Andrew Durutalo in for Kelm
Don Pati in for Wareing, with Eloff moving to flyhalf
Several players showed well, and from this group Caravelli will start to put together a player pool and a list of 20 for the Pan-Am Games camp.
Some of the players on the list are in college, and so won’t necessarily be picked because they need to be in school. Caravelli is also looking to create a developmental squad – something RUGBYMag.com and Rugby Magazine has advocated.
That developmental team could participate one or two tournaments to give those players a leg up on international play. It will be a very young group.
Keep in mind also that several players weren't available for this NASC. Matt Hawkins, Zack Test, Peter Tiberio and Mark Bokhoven are dealing with injuries, not to mention Taylor Mokate and Can Dolan. Shalom Suniula couldn't get released by his team in Brisbane. Nese Malifa, Blaine Scully, Roland Suniula, Paul Emerick, Colin Hawley and Tai Enosa are with the 15s World Cup team (and perhaps James Paterson as well?). So that's 13-14 players who might be expected to be in the pool.
The one player in the Sunday scrimmage who didn’t participate in the NASC is Andrew Durutalo. Durutalo’s parents are Fijian, but he was born in New York City while his parents were attending Columbia University. He has played in Japan, where he went to school, speaks four languages, and is now living in Seattle.
At 6-2, 240 he is big, and speedy, and is now being coached by Waisale Serevi.
So judging from the list of players plus the current 7s Eagles not at the NASC, Caravelli is looking at a pool of roughly 35. Of this group, he will cut it down to 25 or so for the IRB Season, and 20 for the next camp.