USA Rugby has announced 16 men's players who have signed contracts to participate in the Residency Program at the Olympic Training Center.
Those listed below are under "full" contracts, while Nate Augspurger, Mike Te'o and Brett Thompson will participate in the residency program while receiving financial and housing support.
Durutalo, Andrew, 25. The Eagles have been missing this big ball winner. Since earning his first cap at South Africa in 2011, Durutalo has been a regular selection for the 7s team, appearing in every tournament the rest of the 2011/2012 season. After his debut with the 15s Eagles, knee surgery and months of rest, Durutalo should be close to making it back on the field. He is extremely strong in contact, both offensively and defensively, and has a knack for poaching at the breakdown.
Edwards, Nick. Edwards has been in and out of the 7s Eagles setup for years. He led the team in tries during the 2009/2010 IRB 7s World Series, but injuries saw him see less time after that. Now a confirmed US citizen (he qualifies for the Eagles under parentage), the wing has started every game in the last two tournaments. What he lacks in defense and speed he compensates with experience and resilient ball carrying.
Enosa, Tai, 23. Still very young, this shifty halfback is now in his third World Series with the Eagles. He’s fallen victim to injury from time to time, and he was held out of the last two tournaments as a result. He can play both scrumhalf and flyhalf and will be competing with fellow veterans Folau Niua and Shalom Suniula for time.
Halalilo, Jack, 28. He scored two tries in his World Series debut against Zimbabwe in the last tournament, helping the Eagles to a close win that saw USA make the Cup Quarterfinal for the first time in two years. Despite his age, Halalilo is still very green when it comes to international rugby. He earned his first cap at the 2012 NACRA 7s in Canada.
Hawkins, Matt, 29. The elder statesman and former captain returned to the team after a hiatus at the end of last season. Hawkins is now back to starting consistently at prop. He’s tough to tackle and savvy with the offload in attack, but, not very quick, as become the target of some opposing offenses. He is listed also as a coach for the Serevi Southern California Olympic Development Program, so he will spend some time coaching his potential replacement.
Hawley, Colin, 25. A teammate of Blaine Scully’s at Cal, Hawley is developing as a 7s forward. He’s got good aerial skills and is continually upping his physicality on defense. He’s a tenacious ball carrier and is often found running quality support lines. He returned to this season more muscular and more confident in his game, and now Hawley will be in competition with Scully, Durutalo and Hawkins for minutes at prop.
Hume, Luke, 24. The Aussie-raised and trained former League star has blossomed into the arguably the Eagles' best strike runner. He is extremely agile and elusive and a tougher tackle than his size would indicate. As the only contracted player without an American passport, Hume is not currently Olympic eligible for the United States. And while the other guys have their incomes paid for by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Rugby, Hume's is footed entirely by USA Rugby.
Isles, Carlin, 23. From Ohio, Isles grew up playing football and running track. He was in the Olympic program as a sprinter, saw 7s clips online and, realizing that he was unlikely to make the USA track team for the 2012 Olympics, decided to try rugby. He has been playing rugby since last summer, and has become an internet sensation thanks to a Youtube highlight video. He leads the USA in tries in the Sevens World Series.
Niua, Folau, 27. The East Palo Alto native is a shifty flyhalf who can kick effectively with either foot, including drop kicks. But Niua has battled knee and ankle injuries. He got back to health to play in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, but was hampered by injury late in the second tournament.
Scully, Blaine, 24. The former UCLA and Cal player, Scully was set to grab hold of a place on the team as a forward with the pace to play wing or center, when he ruptured his Achilles tendon during training in early 2012. It’s been almost a year, but Scully is back on the training ground and should be an excellent addition to the team, as his combination of height, power, speed, and skills make him dangerous and versatile.
Suniula, Shalom, 24. Suniula has captained the USA team from the scrumhalf/flyhalf position, and his 34 World Series tournaments is the most by any Eagle. However he was benched during the last tournament for poor form. He is expected to be fired up to regain his place as the starter at one of the halfback positions. He has a nice sidestep and good acceleration.
Test, Zack, 23. The former USA U20 star is the USA’s all-time leading 7s World Series try-scorer, with 59. Test has, like Suniula, found himself sitting when he has expected to be playing, and he has responded by improving his work rate. Good in the air and in the open field, Test has had to work harder to protect the ball in contact and make his rucking count.
Unufe, Maka, 21. Unufe is from Utah and came to prominence in the spring of 2011 when he scored two scintillating tries for United in the National HS Club final against Highland. That summer he starred for the Utah Warriors 7s team, and by the fall was the leading try-scorer in the Pan-Am Games. As he grew, injuries followed as Unufe adjusted to an ever-changing 7s game that has become more physical and to teams that started to key on him. He has adjusted his game and is more versatile now, able to play as a forward or a back. He recently signed with an agent to explore options in football, but remains on the USA 7s team payroll.
Players in residence and on stipends
Nate Augsperger. A scrumhalf who started playing in high school in Minnesota for the Southside U19 program and later for the Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota, Augsperger became a real 7s prospect this summer after a strong club season for Youngbloodz and also for the Midwest All-Stars. He has already suited up for the USA 7s team and looks to challenge in a crowded halfback pool.
Mike Te'o started 2012 as a U19 player for Belmont Shore in Long Beach, Calif., and ended up starting for the Belmont Shore men's 15s and 7s team, and the USA U20s, all teams that won their respective championships. He ended the year as RUGBY Magazine's Breakout Player of the Year. A stocky hooker who has the pace to play center or wing, he could play virtually anywhere on the 7s field.
Brett Thompson played rugby in Tempe, Ariz., and then went on the play rugby and football at the University of Arizona. He spent some time in Ireland, and returned to the USA to challenge for a 7s contract. Tall and athletic, he provides height and physicality to the Eagle 7s pool.